How to clean your iPhone to kill the coronavirus

With people around the globe taking extra precautions to prevent infection from the new coronavirus, including increased hand washing, wearing masks (even if they’re not advised if you’re not already sick), and avoiding large crowds, there’s one item that nearly everyone uses, but many forget to clean: smartphones.

While doorknobs, light switches, and the like all get wiped down, you may not think to give your smartphone a thorough cleaning. But you should, as it’s a device that  you hold in your hand all day and put up to your face. 

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, smartphone makers told consumers to avoid using disinfecting wipes or sprays on their devices to keep from damaging the coating on their touchscreen displays. Apple, specifically, told iPhone owners to simply use a cloth dampened with water to clean their phones.

The iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, meanwhile, could be cleaned using a cloth and warm, soapy water, according to Apple.

But with the coronavirus marching across the globe, Apple is changing its guidelines. The company now says you can use a wipe with 70% isopropyl alcohol or a Clorox wipe to clean your iPhones.

Apple says to gently wipe your device, so don’t scrub at it like you’re trying to get baked on lasagna off of a casserole dish, and don’t submerge your device in any disinfecting cleaner. The company also says you shouldn’t use bleach, which could seriously damage your phone. You should also avoid getting disinfecting cleaners in your phone’s ports, which could cause additional damage.

Your smartphone is, more or less, a rectangular petri dish. Various studies have found that the phones carry bacteria from virtually everything you touch. And, considering people use their phones in the bathroom, some phones also have fecal matter on them.

There’s still no complete understanding of how long the coronavirus can survive on surfaces. The World Health Organization says the virus may last hours or even days outside of the body, so cleaning your phone is absolutely worthwhile.

Companies like PhoneSoap produce UV cases that bathe your smartphone in ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. Those do work for certain germs, but it’s not yet clear if it will kill the coronavirus, so use those as you see fit.

But if you aren’t already cleaning your phone with at least a disinfecting wipe, you should start now, and continue to do so long after the coronavirus is in our rearview mirror. After all, do you really want to put a germ-covered rectangle up to your face every day?

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