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How to safely clean your phone

Cleaning the phone

We’ve all been advised to wash our hands regularly and thoroughly to help minimise the spread of coronavirus.

But it’s also important to make sure you’re not just picking up germs as soon as you pick up your phone.

Bacteria and viruses can remain active on surfaces for hours, or even days. That means we should also be disinfecting the things we touch, like our electronic gadgets.

And the good news is you don’t need special wipes: you can effectively clean your phone using household soap and water and a soft cloth, Dr Lena Ciric, a microbiologist from University College London, told the BBC.

In a short film on the BBC News website, Dr Ciric gives instructions for doing exactly that:

Firstly, unplug your phone, turn it off and remove the case.

All the major phone makers warn against using chemicals, hand gels and abrasive wipes on your device as this can damage the screen’s protective coating, Dr Ciric explains.

Similarly, don’t use a paper towel as it’s too abrasive and could damage the screen. Instead, dampen a microfibre cloth with water and simple household soap.

Using the cloth, gently rub the surfaces of the phone. Take care not to get moisture in any of the openings, because even water-resistant phones can lose their protection over time.

Finally, dry your phone with a clean microfibre cloth. Leave it to dry out fully before turning it back on again.

Tests have shown that this simple procedure can effectively remove bacteria and viruses from your phone.

If you have an iPhone, Apple says you can safely clean it with 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes, available from computer shops or online.

Another alternative is a special device that can sterilise your phone using ultraviolet light.

These shouldn’t harm your device, but some phones or cases could be discoloured over time, Dr Ciric said.

And remember that, with all of these methods, as soon as you touch your phone you’re going to get germs back on to it — so make sure you keep washing your hands.

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