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Features | 17 Mar 2020

Coronavirus: How to keep your gadgets clean

What hygiene precautions should we be taking with our smartphones and tablets?

With the scale of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK rapidly evolving, we’re all taking extra precautions to keep ourselves safe and prevent infection. As well as washing our hands regularly, experts suggest we should clean our phones and tablets, too.

The average person touches their phone 2,600 times a day, according to technology researcher Dscoutand uses it around 76 times each day.

So even if we follow the latest guidance from the World Health Organisation  (WHO), the National Health Service, and the UK Government, and wash our hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, we still might be at risk.

This is because the virus can survive for hours or even days outside the body, the WHO says.  Professor Mike Barer from the University of Leicester told Metro UK that any surface that has been contaminated by coughing, sneezing, or even breathing is potentially infectious.

So even if you’ve just washed your hands you could still become infected if you touch your contaminated smartphone then your face.

“That is a potential route of infection,” Prof William Keevil, from the University of Southampton, told The Telegraph.

Cleaning your gadgets obviously makes sense. And here’s how.

Soap and water

Dr Lena Ciric, a microbiologist at University College London told the BBC that simple household soap and water is enough to remove most germs and viruses from smartphones.

Most phone makers say using chemicals, hand gels and abrasive wipes could damage the screen’s protective coating.

Dampening a microfibre cloth with water and soap then gently wiping the hard surfaces of your phone – taking care to avoid the charging port and other openings – is enough to kill most microbial organisms. Buff the phone dry with another clean, dry microfibre cloth.

Alcohol wipes

Last week, Apple updated its guidelines on how to clean its products and suggested that a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe, or a disinfectant wipe like a Clorox sheet, could be used to wipe the hard surfaces of its products.

You can buy these wipes easily online.

Apple made it clear that it is important not to get any liquid in the charging port or other porous areas like speakers.