How to Disinfect Your Cell Phone with UV-C Light
Let’s start this blog with what not to do. Do not use harsh chemicals – like commercial disinfecting wipes – on your cell phone. Your cell phone screen has an oleophobic coating that will be destroyed by harsh chemicals. "Oleophobic" means that it repels oils, and manufacturers add this coating to prevent body oils from attaching to the glass screen. This minimizes finger marks, smudges, and scratches, for a clearer view. If you degrade the oleophobic coating with high concentrations of alcohol, ammonia, or bleach, you’ll certainly notice more fingerprints, and it may lead to more scratches and permanent damage to the glass.
Pre-Cleaning Your Phone
Cleaning wipes with less than 50% alcohol are deemed safe for your oleophobic coating. We carry low-alcohol cleaning wipes which are intended specifically for performance lenses and screens. With only 30% alcohol, they are not disinfecting wipes, but they do a great job pre-cleaning! (Or when UV-C disinfection isn’t available.)
You don’t need a specialty cleaner, but you do need to clean the phone first. UV-C light cannot penetrate through dirt, oils, and grime. Wipe all surfaces clean with a soft cloth that won’t scratch your screen. A very lightly damp cloth works even better, but don’t use a wet cloth that can leave water in the ports and openings.
UV-C Disinfection Cycles
Place the phone in the UV-C disinfection box and turn it on. Run a full disinfection cycle, then flip the phone over and run it again. Most UV-C disinfection boxes have ridges on the bottom to allow the light to reach below the object, so if you are pressed for time, it’s okay to just run one cycle. When the Mayo Clinic disinfects patient rooms with UV-C light, they run the cycle twice, for the best coverage of the room. We share their enthusiasm and have adopted this as a best practice. When possible, run the disinfection cycle on both sides.
First Time Phone Disinfection
If it’s your first time using UV-C light to disinfect, it’s a great idea to take the phone out of its case, wipe them both down, and run disinfection cycles separately. Once you have thoroughly cleaned and disinfected the phone and case, this step isn’t as important because generally, the interior parts that are touching do not have external exposure. After that, you only need to disinfect them separately when your phone gets especially dirty. In most cases, run them together in the way they are handled.
UV-C Light for Disinfecting Objects
While this blog focuses on cell phones, the same advice applies to just about anything you wish to disinfect using UV-C light. Clean the object, run a disinfection cycle, flip it over, and run a second cycle. You can use a UV-C disinfection box on headphones and earbuds, car keys, remote controls, jewelry and watches, computer mouses, toothbrushes, e-cigarettes, and anything else that fits. For porous materials, like cloth face coverings and surgical masks, we recommend the longest disinfection cycle possible.