A new study from the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that the virus that causes COVID-19 may remain stable for several hours to days on surfaces and in aerosols.
With that said, many experts say that the chances of catching coronavirus from your phone and other personal devices are low, seeing as other people don’t generally touch these devices – which isn’t to say that you can’t transfer the virus to your phone after being infected somewhere else, or after someone coughed or sneezed in its vicinity.
Still, good personal hygiene forms a crucial part of combating the virus and making sure that your phone and other personal electronic devices are germ-free is not a bad idea. You should keep in mind, though, that mobile phones and other electronics manufacturers recommend that you disinfect your devices in specific ways. Here’s how:
Cleaning your phone
First off, it almost goes without saying that you should wash your hands before undertaking this task. Remember to take off the cover of your phone and clean it separately. When cleaning a mobile device, you should take heed of what cleaning products manufacturers recommend you use, as mobile phone screens have oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings, which protect the display from oil (on your hands and fingers) and water, and can be damaged by using abrasive or harsh cleaning products.
For this reason, manufacturers recommend that devices are wiped down with a soft, lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth, using a non-abrasive, alcohol-based disinfectant solution, containing at least 70% isopropyl. In the US, many manufacturers point to Clorox disinfecting wipes, and while there isn’t an exact alternative product to use in South Africa, antibacterial wipes should do the trick. Take care not to submerge your phone in any liquids, or to allow liquids to enter the ports on the device.
Keeping your laptop and tablet clean
When cleaning a tablet, follow the same guidelines as when cleaning your phone, and also clean the cover, too.
Whether you are still in the office or are working from home, it is recommended that you wipe down your keyboard, mouse and computer or laptop screen, as well as your desk, with disinfecting wipes twice a day – before you start working, and after you finish.
While working in self-isolation probably means that you aren’t at as high a risk of getting the virus from somewhere else, you should still keep your home and office space clean and disinfected. If you are still going into the office, you should follow these guidelines even more stringently.
Keep in mind that maintaining a clean environment isn’t as efficient if you don’t also wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds, during the day, and especially after you’ve touched surfaces or have been around other people. Keep hand sanitiser at the ready if you aren’t able to wash your hands often. Good hygiene and a clean environment go a long way in helping to flatten the curve.