March 26, 2020

How to Keep Your Corporate Mobile Devices Safe and Clean

Keeping your mobile devices and accessories clean is a good idea under normal circumstances. A recent University of Arizona study estimated that smartphones carry 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats, largely because toilet seats are typically cleaned more frequently while personal electronics are largely overlooked. 

But in our current COVID-19 pandemic environment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are advising everyone to wash their hands often and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. These surfaces include smartphones, tablets, keyboards, and other frequently used technology items. That makes continually cleaning and disinfecting your mobile devices not only essential – but mandatory - to protect yourself and others. 

Here are a few best practices to help keep you, and your devices, safe:

Cleaning Devices

Cleaning smartphones, tablets and keyboards can be tricky, considering many of the standard cleaning products you'd typically use for disinfection could potentially damage the device.  And although most modern smartphones are water-resistant, it’s not the best idea to hold them under a running tap. Spraying harsh cleaning products directly on devices will accelerate the rate of wear on the oil repelling coating on the screen. Using bleach and other strong chemical cleaners will strip it away completely.  Rather, the CDC suggests using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes can be used to gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your devices, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don’t submerge your device in any cleaning agents.

The other option is to use a “UV Blaster” smartphone sanitizer device that cleans using UV rays. However, these have not been tested for effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.

Cleaning Cases

Since cases are relatively cheap and replaceable, you can also use 70% rubbing alcohol or a wide-spectrum cleaning spray to disinfect it thoroughly. If you’re going this route, again using 70% alcohol or Clorox wipes. Get into any nooks and crannies and wipe down the case in its entirety. Allow the alcohol to evaporate. It won’t leave smudge marks like water will.

Unlike smartphones, it’s OK to directly spray a cleaning agent onto a case.  Utilize a soft lint-free cloth and spray it with your cleaning spray of choice. Work the cleaning spray into any nooks and crannies, then wipe down the smooth surfaces. Allow the spray to evaporate.

Cleaning Ear Buds & Headphones

Don’t forget about accessories, especially headphones and ear buds. If you opted for the UV Blaster mentioned above, you can simply drop your earbuds in every few days. If not, you can wipe each bud down with a soft cloth dampened with mild dish soap and water.

Headphones are a bit trickier: you’ll want to use same dish soap solution to wipe them down in their entirety. If the headphones include silicon covers, you can remove those and clean them separately with a toothbrush. Anything more serious, and you’ll want to dip a cotton swap in rubbing alcohol and give it a thorough once-over. Then allow the headphones to dry completely before using them again

And of course, if we’ve learned anything from the CDC this week: Once you’ve cleaned the device, case and accessories, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds!

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