Cell Phone Is Teeming with Germs
You may want to share viral videos on your cell phone, but germs and viruses are a totally different matter. Cell phones are unfortunately an easy conduit for cold and flu bugs, as they are constantly in contact with germ-laden surfaces, hands and then faces where the eyes, nose and mouth are the main portals for the virus to enter.
Research shows that the average person touches their face around 16 times per hour. If that person has been in contact with someone suffering from a cold or sickness, then the germs are easily passed on. We know that “coughs and sneezes spread diseases”, but so too do door handles, computer keyboards and phones.
Viruses can survive on surfaces for 2-8 hours, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the nasty staph bacteria MRSA can survive up to 9 days, even on a hard surface. Touchscreen smart phones are constantly in the line of fire, being handled and shared with others, or being put down on desks and surfaces where someone has just sneezed or run their hands over.
Another obvious no-no is using or putting your cell phone down in the restroom. It is pointless washing your hands frequently if you then pick up your germ-laden cell phone and carry on as normal.
Cleaning Your Cell Phone
Washing with hot water and using an anti-bacterial sanitizer are the best way to eliminate viruses, but these are not practical ways to clean a cell phone. The Apple website clearly states not to use household cleaners, window cleaners, solvents, alcohol, ammonia, abrasives or aerosol sprays to clean cell phones as they could permanently damage the screen of a Smartphone. It recommends wiping it down with a soft, damp, lint-free cloth, but that is hardly likely to kill viruses.
S.C. Johnson has just introduced phone and electronic gadget sanitizers which will not damage the phone surface or electronics inside. Getting into the habit of using this every day, and encouraging your children to do so, could be a huge health benefit during the cold and flu season.
Perhaps the best idea comes from Guy Voltz, owner of Cell Phone Medics. He recommends putting a small amount of regular hand sanitizer onto a tissue or microfiber cloth and using it to wipe over the surface of your cell phone, keyboard, tablet, e-reader or electronic gadget. These products should never be applied directly to a device as they may get into the electronics. Anything containing alcohol or isopropyl will kill cold germs and only needs to be used sparingly.
Other good preventative practices include avoiding sharing your cell phone with other people, including your children, who are significant distributors of colds and flu. Use a hands-free set or a speaker phone to avoid unnecessary contact between your face and cell phone wherever possible. If you know someone infectious has handled your cell phone, wash your hands, use a sanitizer gel and avoid touching the cell phone for a while. The risk of contamination decreases significantly after 1-3 hours of contact.