Coronavirus – Is Your Mobile Phone Putting You at Risk?

Coronavirus has now been declared a pandemic. As such, it’s only natural to feel concerned about the situation, and to focus on staying as safe as possible.

The government recommends regularly washing your hands, and to avoid touching your face. However, what about your smartphone? Your trusty phone is handled continuously throughout the day, so is it risky to use?

Here’s more information.

Understanding coronavirus

This strain of coronavirus is still relatively new, which means that experts are still unsure about how dangerous it is, and just how many precautions the population should take.

Researchers agree that the virus can survive on devices like smartphones for an extended period of time. Some claim this can be up to nine days. That’s a long time to potentially be exposed to the illness.

Professor William Keevil (Southampton University) believes that you pick up your phone, then touch your nose or mouth directly afterwards, you’ll be placing yourself at risk. Another professor adds that phones are ‘petri dishes’, which viruses can easily thrive on.

How to stay safe?

Cleaning your Smartphone

It would be impractical and inconvenient to stop using your phone completely, and there’s no real need to take such drastic measures. A simple cleaning routine will minimise the risks significantly.

General cleaning guidance

  1. Disinfectant wipes have now been declared safe to use on smartphones.
  2. Don’t use rubbing alcohol, as this can strip the phone of the coating that protects it from oil and water. 70% isopropyl alcohol is the right balance – which is what most disinfectant wipes contain.
  3. You can also spray the phone with a disinfectant solution, but make sure the device is unplugged and powered down.
  4. Some suggest that UV light is effective at killing germs. However, it’s important to note that this hasn’t been tested on coronavirus yet, so there’s no solid evidence to suggest that it works.

The BBC has released a video, detailing how to clean your phone using soap, water and a cloth. You can watch it here.

Apple guidance

Apple have specific guidance on their site, explaining how to clean your device. There’s different advice for each device, including not just iPhones, but Mac computers and iPads too.

Some of the recommendations cover all devices. These are:

  • Only using a soft cloth (lint-free). Abrasive fabrics or paper towels could damage the screen.
  • Avoiding excessive wiping.
  • Only cleaning the device when it’s unplugged from the power source.
  • Not using liquids to clean the phone, computer or tablet, to ensure no moisture enters any of the openings.
  • Not using bleach or an aerosol spray.
  • Not spraying disinfectant directly on the device.

Samsung guidance

Samsung’s advice is somewhat less specific. Like Apple, the company recommends using a lint-free, non-abrasive cloth to wipe down the device every day, and to disinfect it with a wet-wipe once a week. Their website also recommends practicing good hygiene; for example, washing your hands after sneezing, coughing or using the toilet, before you handle your device again.

Should you be worried?

You’re in contact with a range of objects and surfaces on a daily basis, and there are only so many precautions you can take. However, keeping your phone clean is a minor inconvenience that’s well worth doing, for that added peace of mind.