The disturbing amount of time coronavirus can live on your phone screen

The disturbing amount of time coronavirus can live on your phone screen


The public wants a surefire way to avoid contracting the novel coronavirus, but health experts urge that the best practice is to follow good hygiene patterns. Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds, cover your mouth when you cough; these are all recommendations that we have heard our whole lives. But here’s a technique most people (or, at least, the older generations) may have not been told as a child: wipe down your cell phone screen with antibacterial wipes to get rid of germs.This is especially true for the coronavirus outbreak. It’s more important than ever to make sure you wipe down surfaces you come into contact frequently — and we’re willing to bet that your phone is a surface you come into contact with pretty frequently.The virus, which travels quickly, is spread through droplets that can travel as far as three to six feet from coughs and sneezes. It appears to spread mostly via person-to-person contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but can also be contracted by touching a surface where the virus resides.

So the question is: how long can it last on your phone, and how can you clean it off?

How long can the novel coronavirus last on your smartphone’s screen?

The novel coronavirus can live on surfaces for multiple days, according to Rudra Channappanavar, an immunologist who has studied coronaviruses at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

More specifically, the virus can live on your smartphone screen, if it’s made of glass, for up to 96 hours. This means that if the virus lands on your phone, it can live there for four whole days at room temperature.

With this information, you should know that in theory, it would be easy to pick up this virus from your cell phone screen.

How long can the novel coronavirus last on other surfaces?

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is a close relative of SARS and, according to the World Health Organization, likely has a similar lifespan on surfaces.

Here’s a rundown of how long COVID-19 is estimated to live on other surfaces:

  • Plastered wall: 36 hours
  • Formica (the laminate material on countertops): 36 hours
  • Plastic: 72 hours
  • Stainless steel: 72 hours

How can you avoid touching a surface with the novel coronavirus on it?

If you are someone who ventures out in the world daily, there is no definite way to avoid touching a surface that has been touched by the novel coronavirus, which is why it’s important to be cautious throughout the day.

Here are a few tips for commuters:

  • Wash your hands whenever you arrive at your destination.
  • Wipe down your phone as soon as possible.
  • Wipe down your bag as soon as possible.
  • Wear disposable gloves when using public transportation or going shopping.
  • Clean counter and table surface daily.

How can you clean surfaces that may have been touched by COVID-19?

You can be safe by cleaning the surfaces around you, even if you don’t suspect that they have become infected.

Apple recommends cleaning your phone with a slightly damp microfiber cloth and soap, but baby or face wipes are also a viable option. A solution of half water and half rubbing alcohol will also do the trick, but make sure to avoid any openings in your phone with this technique.

Here’s a thorough walkthrough of how to clean your phone to prevent coronavirus spread.

How to keep your phone (and yourself) clean from germs and Coronavirus


So you’ve been protecting yourself during the ongoing spread of COVID-19. You’ve been following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for keeping yourself free of germs. You’re washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and have been avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.That’s great, but have you cleaned your phone lately?At least 18 US states have confirmed cases of the coronavirus, as the crisis approaches 100,000 total cases worldwide. Businesses have started to prepare for work in case an outbreak were to force office closures for weeks. Whether you’re going to still report to the office or work remotely during a potential outbreak, it’s very important to make sure you’re clean and safe while commuting and at work.

How to clean your phone

Did you know that your cellphone is 10 times more germs than a toilet seat?

Pretty gross, but don’t worry: it can be cleaned in a few steps. But before you do anything, you should avoid using any kind of rubbing alcohol or disinfectant wipes because it can damage your phone screen. In addition, phones should be unplugged and turned off before cleaning.

For Apple products like the iPhone 11 and other new models, Apple suggests owners use a soft, slightly damp lens cloth to clean the surface of the phone. Normally, that should do the trick since the lens cloth will capture and clean residue, but if dirt or grime is still present after the first clean, you could use a soft, lint-free cloth and apply warm soapy water to it disinfect and clean your iPhone. However, phone users need to be extra careful and try to avoid getting moisture in openings.

A similar cleaning routine can be used for older iPhone models including the iPhone XS, iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 7. For more information on how to properly clean your iPhone and other Apple products, the company has additional details listed on its website.

Other devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note line advice for a similar cleaning procedure. When cleaning with a dampened cloth, Samsung suggests going up and down the screen to clean it, while using a dry corner of the cloth to remove any excess moisture left on the phone.

If you have a case around your phone, it should be cleaned in addition to your phone at least once a day. Depending on the surface, Lysol wipes or a mixed solution of 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol (as microbiologist Charles Gerba suggests) should do the trick.

At work

Think about everything that you touch at your desk. From your keyboard to your mouse, it’s time to clean those daily.

Similar rules apply when cleaning your laptop. Apple recommends powering down your device and unplugging it from a power adapter. MacRumors said a Lysol Wipe or two to wipe down areas including the keyboard and trackpad, but be cautious to not get any liquids beyond the surface. Apple suggests squeezing the wipes before use. After the initial cleaning, use a wet microfiber or cloth to wipe down the areas that were dampened.

On the commute

The New York Post spoke with Gerba about how to avoid germs on the New York City subway after the Coronavirus officially reached the Big Apple.

Gerba suggested using hand sanitizer immediately after getting off the subway. Here are a few other tips he recommended:

Avoid crowds: Try to travel during off-peak hours and avoid over-crammed subway cars. More people means more potentially unsanitized hands.

Careful with the turnstile: Avoid using your hands. Gerba said use your hips or the back of your hand when pushing through the turnstiles.

Bags: If your bag touches the subway car or station floor, you should wipe it with a disinfectant wipe immediately.

Phones: Try to avoid using your phone on the subway for germ purposes.

Don’t eat: Because no one wants hand-to-mouth contamination.


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