Why you need to wash your phone every time you put it down

Clean your phone NOW: Infectious disease professor’s urgent warning about mobiles and COVID-19 – and why you should be washing it as often as your hands

  • An Infectious Diseases specialist shared why we must wash our mobile phones
  • On average, we touch smartphones 2,617 times daily, meaning bacteria is there
  • Coronavirus can live on phones for up to nine days, depending on conditions
  • You should clean it with hand sanitiser that has 60 or 70 per cent alcohol daily 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

An Infectious Diseases and Immunology specialist has revealed that it’s not just your hands, fruit and vegetables and rings that you need to be careful with when it comes to COVID-19, but also your mobile phone.

Professor Nigel McMillan, from Griffith University, specialises in infectious diseases and the risk of transmission, as well as how the coronavirus compares to other diseases.

He told FEMAIL that while the virus can live on myriad surfaces, you need to be especially careful with your smartphone – which, on average, we touch 2,617 times daily.

Studies have found that coronavirus can survive on the kinds of smooth glass and plastic found in smartphones for up to nine days depending on the conditions.

An Infectious Diseases specialist has revealed why you need to be especially careful with your mobile phone, which we touch 2,617 times daily (Professor Nigel McMillan pictured)

‘COVID-19 can live on any surface and the more moist it is, the longer it will live there,’ Professor McMillan explained.

‘The safest thing to do is consider your phone an extension of your hand, so remember you are transferring whatever is on your hand to the phone.’

With this in mind, every time you put your smartphone down somewhere or do something and then touch your phone, you should be cleaning it.

‘Don’t put it down in random places if you can avoid it,’ Professor McMillan said.

‘Clean it every time someone else touches it, too, as the virus could be living on it far longer than you think.’

How can you best clean your mobile phone? 

* Use only a soft, lint-free cloth.

* Avoid excessive wiping.

* Unplug all power sources, devices, and cables.

* Keep liquids away from your device.

* Don’t allow moisture to get into any openings.

* Avoid aerosol sprays, bleaches, and abrasives.

* Avoid spraying cleaners directly onto your device.

* Apple is recommending the use of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down any hard, nonporous surfaces.

Source: Apple 

To wash your device, Professor McMillan recommends you use either hand sanitiser or lens cleaner for glasses with at least 60 or 70 per cent alcohol (stock image)

How does hand sanitiser work?

The alcohol in hand sanitiser disrupts the outer coating of many, but not all, germs; the CDC recommends using a hand sanitiser that contains at 60 per cent alcohol to ensure effectiveness. 

However, these products are not very effective against bacterial spores or against viruses that don’t have an outer envelope. Sanitiser is effective against almost everything else.

Washing your hands is better than hand sanitiser, but this is the next best thing. 

Source: Life Hacker

To wash your device, Professor McMillan recommends you use either hand sanitiser or lens cleaner for glasses.

‘They must have at least 60 or 70 per cent alcohol,’ he said.

‘Alternatively, they need isopropal alcohol or rubbing alcohol. Spray and wipe products will also do in a pinch as they have detergent.’   

Tech giant Apple have recently changed their position on using alcohol-based wipes and similar disinfecting products on their devices.

While the company still recommends using a slightly damp lint-free cloth to wipe your device clean, it has changed its previous advice to avoid disinfectants.

Apple now says those problematic wipes are safe to use, and recommends using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to gently wipe the hard, non-porous surfaces of your Apple product.

The CDC’s hand washing guide follows WHO’s guidelines – which suggest people wash their hands at least five times a day with soap and water or hand sanitiser (pictured)

All of this will do little unless you are washing your hands well, however.   

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a proper method for washing your hands that will help to stop you and those around you from getting sick.

What is the five-step process to perfect hand washing?

Source: CDC

The agency recommends you wash your hands at frequent intervals to stay healthy, and advises that everyone follow five steps to ensure they are washing their hands the right way.

‘The first step is to wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap,’ the CDC said.

‘Then, lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.’

However the third step is where many people might be falling down.

The CDC recommends you scrub your hands ‘for at least 20 seconds’ – which is the same amount of time it takes to hum Happy Birthday twice.

‘Rinse your hands well under clean running water,’ the guide advises. 

Finally, you should use a clean towel to dry your hands or air dry them.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food 
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound 
  • After using the toilet 
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet 
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing 
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste 
  • After handling pet food or pet treats 
  • After touching garbage

Source: CDC

Coronavirus essential guide: Your top hygiene questions answered 

Does hand-washing really work?

Yes. A new study published by the highly-respected Cochrane Database which summarises and interprets numerous studies says that handwashing cuts the chances of contracting a respiratory illness such as coronavirus by 54 per cent – the best odds of any deterrent.

So wash your hands – scrubbing every bit of skin from your wrist downwards – at every opportunity for at least 20 seconds (or for however long it takes to sing Happy Birthday in your head twice).

Should I use public transport? 

Only if necessary. If you can work from home rather than commuting, and also minimise shopping trips, you will greatly reduce your infection risk.

One recent study in Nottingham found that people who contracted the flu virus in 2011 were nearly six times more likely than others to have travelled by public transport in the five days before developing symptoms.

 lanes, trains and buses are high-risk environments for easily transmitted viruses – and Covid-19 is particularly infectious – to spread on to our hands via surfaces such as handrails, seats and handles.

If I stay at home will I be safe?

No. Family and friends can easily bring in the virus. To reduce this threat, institute a handwashing rule for everyone as soon as they enter the house.

And make sure there is one hand towel for each person. If that’s not practicable, wash towels frequently.


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