Health Canada and the Centre for Disease Control say the best way to prevent contracting the notorious COVID-19 is to wash your hands for 20 seconds — either by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice or using the chorus of any of these songs.
But what about your cellphone?
Because phones get so dirty, they’re as important to keep clean as your hands. But you can’t lather, rinse, repeat your phone with soap and water — so that’s where alternative cleaning methods come into play, such as UV lights that disinfect your device.
A new study conducted by PhoneSoap, a company that sells UV sanitizing devices for your phones, has found that the surface of the average device is 18 times dirtier than a public restroom. In an interview with Mashable,
co-founder Dan Barnes says PhoneSoap calls phones “the third hand you never wash.”
“Unless you treat your phone the same way as your hands, it’s hard to keep all three clean,” Barnes said.
“A petri dish in your pocket,” is what the PhoneSoap website calls your device. “Warm places like pockets and purses are breeding grounds for bacteria.”
If you’re on the hunt for something to keep your “third hand” clean, however, you should remember that not all non-water disinfectants do the job as well as others. So be careful what you shop for.
According to a study by MIT, both UV lights and anti-bacterial wipes are effective ways of sanitizing a phone, but not all UV sanitation devices clean the phones in the same way, and nor do they reduce similar amounts of device bacteria.
Yet because of the hysteria around the worldwide spread of coronavirus, Crunchbase News reported that UV sanitizing companies across the board are seeing a dramatic uptick in sales. PhoneSoap saw an 1,000 percent growth year over year in the past week and Toronto-based start up CleanSlate UV has roughly $2 million in funding and can be found in many major hospitals.
“Specifically, mobile device hygiene was a major and fast-growing concern even before coronavirus came on the scene,” Taylor Mann, CEO of CleanSlate UV, said in an interview with Crunchbase.
Out of all the different categorizations of ultraviolet light — A, B and C — only C has enough power to kill germs. The light has a range of effectiveness and most UVC cleaning devices have different light modes for how strong or weak it can be. The light works the best on smooth surfaces and only penetrates superficially; if a germ is stuck underneath a button or in a phone case, the light can’t get it.
The devices come in a range of styles, but usually come in a case — like a tanning bed for your phone. But remember that the UV light doesn’t protect your phone from germs after it comes out of the case, so your phone is only as safe as its last encounter.