The coronavirus can live 28 days on your phone, study finds — here's what to buy to clean the screen

Going into winter, it will be extra important to sanitize your hands and your phone.


Covid-19 particles can remain on surfaces longer than than the flu can, according to research by Australia's national science agency, CSIRO. At 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the virus can last for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as cellphone screens. The flu, called Influenza A virus, can last for 17 days.

The coronavirus also tends to linger on surfaces for longer in cooler temperatures, according to the researchers. So going into winter and a potential surge in Covid-19 cases, it will be extra important to regularly sanitize your hands and phone.

"It's often said that your phone is like a third hand because you're constantly touching it," cleaning influencer Melissa Maker told Grow.

Although entertainment options might be more limited as cities adhere to social distancing protocols, people still take their phones to high-traffic places like the grocery store or the post office. As a result, cellphones carry more than 17,000 bacterial gene copies each, according to a 2017 study. 

The report concluded that this "may play a role in the spread of infectious agents." 

Sanitize your phone regularly, Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals who works with the UH Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health, told Grow. "I always clean my phone at least once per day," she said.

How to clean your phone safely

If you want to clean your phone safely and effectively, Maker says not to use a Lysol wipe or disinfectant wipe, as it may strip the coating of your phone over time. "The chemicals that are used in those disinfectant wipes are not meant to be used on electronics," she says. 

Although Apple formerly advised against the use of traditional cleaning products or compressed air, this year the company updated its instructions to say that as long as you wipe gently and avoid getting any liquid in charging ports, it's OK. Guidelines for Android handsets still advise steering clear of disinfectant wipes.

I always clean my phone at least once per day.
Amy Edwards
pediatric infectious disease specialist

Instead, you can use cloths specifically meant to clean electronics. A 210-pack of individually wrapped lens- and screen-cleaning wipes is $15.99 on Amazon right now.

Maker suggests using a microfiber cloth. "Microfiber has the ability to pick up bacteria," Makers says. "Then you can launder the microfiber cloth." A 6-pack of microfiber cleaning clothes is $10.99 on Amazon.

A damp microfiber cloth can remove microorganisms including viruses and bacteria and is more effective than a cotton rag, microbiologist Kristen Gibson told the The Wall Street Journal. It won't damage your phone the way a Lysol wipe might, either.

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