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Yes, coronavirus can stick to your phone — here's how to sanitize it

Best Android Phones in 2020
Best Android Phones in 2020 (Image credit: Daniel Bader / Android Central)

The world is currently battling the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, it's important to be aware of how to combat the virus to minimize its reach as much as possible.

Practicing self-isolation and social-distancing is a fantastic start, but there's more you can do. As much as we might not like to think about it, our phones are disgusting slabs of metal and glass that we're constantly touching. Especially with many of us being stuck at home, chances are you're using your phone now more than ever.

Phones have always been breeding grounds for germs and other bacteria, and unfortunately, it's also prime real estate for the pesky coronavirus.

Proof that COVID-19 sticks to your phone

Coronavirus COVID-19

Source: CDC (Image credit: Source: CDC)

There's still a lot left to learn about COVID-19, but there are a few things scientists and doctors have been able to confirm. While we don't know with 100% certainty how long COVID-19 sticks around on surfaces, a few different studies give us a general idea of what to expect.

According to a study that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, COVID-19 remains on stainless steel and plastic for up to 72 hours. Cardboard holds the virus for about 24 hours, and COVID-19 only sticks on copper for 4 hours.

The National Institutes of Health reiterates these findings, saying:

The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

We're bound to learn even more about COVID-19 as time goes on, but for the time being, it's safe to say that it likes to cling to surfaces and stay there for a while.

What you can do to prevent the spread

Cleaning an Android phone

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

With that in mind, we encourage everyone to sanitize their phone on a regular basis. This is something you should have already been doing, but especially in a COVID-19 world, it's more important than ever before.

If you don't know how to clean/disinfect your phone, here are some tips to keep in mind.

For starters, you'll want to avoid things like Lysol/Clorox wipes, bleach, vinegar, and other harsh cleaning chemicals. These are great for sanitizing your home, but they can wreak havoc on your phone.

One of the easiest ways to effectively (and safely) clean your phone is with warm water. If it's made out of plastic, it's as easy as lightly rinsing it with warm water and soap, drying it off, and then letting it continue to air dry for a bit. If you do this, make sure your phone has some level of water resistance and be sure to avoid the charging port/headphone jack.

Another option is to pick up some phone wipes (opens in new tab). These can be used for your screen and the rest of your phone's body and will ensure it gets nice and clean without exposing it to harsh chemicals or water. This is how I clean my phones, and it's by far the best method for me.

It's up to you how often you clean your phone, but if you can, we'd recommend doing it at least every day or every other day. You're probably safe to not clean it as frequently if you don't leave the house, but if you have to head out to get groceries or gas, we'd advise giving it a good clean as soon as you get back home.

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

8 Comments
  • We use the Phonesoap Pro on our phones and other small items. I scratched my screen using wipes because I didn't clear it if particulates first.
  • If I'm self isolating, how is the C-virus going to stick to my phone? Even if I'm not self isolating, the chance of my phone coming into contact with the C-virus are incredibly slim.
  • Stop letting other people lick your phone!
  • Read the article again your comprehension isn't great
  • I did read the article. Still wondering if you stay isolated and no one is allowed to touch your phone how does it get contaminated if you don't already have Covid-19? I do agree phones are and have been for years a big germ magnet. I am always surprised to see how many people hand their phones around. I don't let others touch my phone and I do regular cleanings.
  • Just curious, I bought a whitestone screen protector for my galaxy and it came with a UV light. Could it technically clean my phone as well from all these viruses and bacteria?
  • Yep! UV lights are another great tool for cleaning your phone.
  • This viruses becoming a lucrative business by state just use isopropyl alcohol spray it on that's what I do