The coronavirus pandemic has led to a spike in sales of products, including hand sanitizer, toilet paper and pasta.
More than likely, however, there is no need to buy too much of anything, Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals who works with the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, tells Grow. “My advice would be to be vigilant, but calm, and not to panic.”
To protect yourself from coronavirus, health professionals say the most important thing to do is wash your hands regularly. Don’t forget to clean your phone regularly, too. “I clean my phone at least once a day,” says Edwards. She advises others to do the same — and many medical experts agree.
Your phone is ‘like a third hand’
“It’s often said that your phone is like a third hand because you’re constantly touching it,” says cleaning influencer Melissa Maker.
People take their phones out to eat, on the train, and to the bathroom. As a result, cellphones carry more than 17,000 bacterial gene copies each, according to a 2017 study. The report concluded that this “may play a role in the spread of infectious agents.”
Cleaning phones daily, at least, is smart, says Edwards. “Certainly, if you are letting a lot of people use your phone, you would want to clean it to help prevent spread.”
How to clean and disinfect your phone
If you want to clean your phone effectively, Maker says not to use a Lysol wipe or disinfectant wipe, as it may strip the coating of your phone over time. “The chemicals that are used in those disinfectant wipes are not meant to be used on electronics,” she says.
Until recently, Apple advised against the use of traditional cleaning products or compressed air. But earlier this month, Apple updated its instructions to say you can clean your phone with disinfectant wipes, as long as you wipe gently and avoid getting any liquid in charging ports.
Guidelines for Android handsets still advise steering clear of disinfectant wipes.
One alternative: Cleaning wipes that are specifically made for electronic devices. A 210-pack of individually wrapped lens- and screen-cleaning wipes is $16.99 on Amazon right now.
Maker suggests using a microfiber cloth. “Microfiber has the ability to pick up bacteria,” Makers says. “Then you can launder the microfiber cloth.” A six-pack of microfiber cleaning clothes is $9.99 on Amazon right now.
A damp microfiber cloth can remove microorganisms including viruses and bacteria and is more effective than a cotton rag, microbiologist Kristen Gibson told the The Wall Street Journal. It won’t damage your phone the way a Lysol wipe might, either.
You can also pair one with a homemade cleaner that is equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Dip the cloth in the mixture, make sure it’s not excessively wet, and then wipe down all parts of your phone. This will serve as an effective disinfectant.
And, of course, make sure you frequently wash your hands.
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