Yes, Coronavirus Can Live On Your Phone

Here’s how to clean your mobile device the right way

Coronavirus continues to spread around the world, and if you’ve been following news of COVID-19, you’ve likely heard the frequent reminders about washing your hands, covering your coughs and other good hygiene habits.

That means no matter how much hand washing and sanitizing you do if you turn around and pick up an unclean phone right away, you are potentially exposing yourself to those same germs you just got rid of. In fact, Singapore Ministry of Health’s director of medical services, Kenneth Mak, told reporters at a press conference that cleaning mobile phones was a more important preventative measure than wearing face masks.

First, clean the screen and surface. Here’s what you need:

  • Microfiber cloth
  • Water
  • Soap

Here’s what to do, as recommended by Apple and Samsung:

  • Unplug all cables and turn off your iPhone.
  • Remove any case or cover on the device.
  • Wipe the screen and surfaces with a soft, slightly damp, lint-free microfiber cloth.
  • If your device is still visibly dirty or germs are of concern, use a soft, lint-free cloth with warm soapy water.


  • Wipe down your phone’s screen with rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant wipe. This can damage your device’s screen and remove the coating that protects your device from oils and grease.
  • Let any water or moisture into openings, like the charging port, speakers, mute switch or elsewhere.

If your device has any case or covering, it’s important to clean that too. Refer to the case’s packaging or informational materials for proper cleaning. Normal household cleaners may be safe to use on only the case. Make sure the case is dry before putting it back on your device. If your phone’s case is dirtier than you care to admit, you might consider just getting a new one.

If you want to truly disinfect your device, however, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents and other cleaners could be damaging. Instead, these ultraviolet light cleansers are specifically designed to keep your phone germ free by bathing it in UV rays. Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation is an established and effective method of disinfection:

There are some basic behaviors you can start adopting to help keep your phone germ free as well. First, as recommended by the CDC, wash those hands regularly, especially before picking up your device.

If you’re on your phone constantly (a 2019 survey found we touch our phones on average 2,617 times per day) and can’t be bothered with constant trips to the sink, frequent hand sanitizer use is an acceptable backup option. The CDC recommends using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.

Don’t use your phone on the toilet. One survey found 88 percent of people have admitted to doing so, but a report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control suggests that coronavirus may have been able to spread so quickly because it’s been “transmitted through the potential fecal-oral route.”