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Disinfect your phone: Wipes, not pure alcohol

Submitted by Medical Health Test Team on March 5, 2008

If you touch your phone after touching a public door handle or grocery cart, you may immediately think to clean it with rubbing alcohol. Don't. Straight alcohol can strip the oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings that keep oil and water from damaging your display and other ports. 

Some websites suggest creating a mix of alcohol and water yourself, but it's crucial to get the concentration right. Get it wrong and you could damage your phone. The safest bet is to use disinfectant wipes that contain 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean your phone screen. 

In the past, we were instructed to not use disinfectant wipes on our phone screens, but now Apple says it's OK to use Clorox Wipes and others with similar concentrations. Samsung hasn't commented on whether it's safe to use disinfectant wipes on its phones.

AT&T's recently revised cleaning guidelines suggest that you "spray a nonabrasive or alcohol-based (70% isopropyl) disinfectant directly on a soft lint-free cloth and wipe down your device while it is powered down and unplugged." An earlier version of the company's post suggested using paper towels, which are far too abrasive (see below). After we reached out, AT&T has since changed its post to reflect the soft cloth. 

Another option for day-to-day cleaning is investing in a UV light, such as PhoneSoap. This UV light company claims to kill 99.99% of germs and banishes bacteria. As far as we know, it hasn't been tested in relation to this strain of coronavirus.
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