Keep in mind that some disinfectants like diluted household bleach don’t play well with electronics. According to Apple, many cleaning products and abrasive materials will diminish the fingerprint-resistant coating that keeps your phone from becoming a grimy mess whenever you scroll. Here’s what to do instead:
1. Power down first.
Before doing any cleaning, turn off your phone and unplug from any charger, Goff suggests.
2. Opt for microfiber cloths.
These specially designed cloths have more fibers than other types of cloth, and as a result, can pick up more microscopic particles, including bacteria and viruses, Goff says. That doesn’t mean it kills them—just lifts them off surfaces without the use of water. Think of it as a little virus magnet.
Because of that, be sure to then disinfect the cloth before using it again. The best way is using your dishwasher—that “sanitize” cycle works like a charm—then hanging it up to dry, but you can also throw in the washing machine with warm water. And of course, wash your hands thoroughly after handling the germy cloth.
3. Turn to rubbing alcohol.
If your cell phone is particularly grubby, or you don’t have microfiber cloths available, you can disinfect by creating a solution of about 60% water and 40% alcohol. Use a small corner of a cloth to gently clean the phone. Immediately use a dry portion of the cloth right afterward.
Don’t spray the alcohol directly on the cell phone, and be sure to dilute it. You can also use a microfiber cloth for this for extra cleaning clout. Goff adds that regular soap and water works, too, just be sure to squeeze out excess liquid before using.
4. Don’t use abrasive products.
Using a screen protector is helpful if you want to use other types of cleaning products, says Goff, but if you don’t have one, avoid using products with ingredients that will affect your phone’s screen coating. This includes window cleaner, vinegar, and hydrogen peroxide.
You can use microfiber cloths on any surface, so carry some around to tackle your laptop, office phone, keyboard, even the handle of your coffee mug or knobs on your desk drawers. Just be sure to remember that once you’ve used it, that’s where the viruses live now. So, put the dirty cloths into a sealed plastic bag until it can get cleaned. Then wash your hands.
5. Keep it clean.
Also, be mindful about how you’re using your phone, Goff adds, especially in germy areas like public restrooms. Handling your phone or putting it down in an area that regularly gets a fine spray of toilet water, sneezes, and coughs? Yikes.
“Your phone will pick up whatever is on that surface,” says Goff. “So, keep your phone clean, but also change your habits in terms of how you handle it after that.”