We were all warned by the authorities in Australia that it was coming. Far too many people ignored it (and continue to ignore it) and now its here — the COVID-19 pandemic. Even that knowledge wasn’t enough to persuade the dumblocks from gathering in huge numbers at Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, or in the multitude of cafes and restaurants along the foreshore.
That same pattern has repeated around the country. People aren’t taking things seriously.
The havoc that COVID-19 may – nay, probably will – wreak throughout our healthcare system could break it. This is serious, especially for those working on the front line in healthcare — the doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, ambos and more — who we absolutely cannot afford to put at risk.
All experts agree that one of the best ways to prevent the spread (side from social distancing) is to wash your hands thoroughly. But what is the point of washing your hands thoroughly if you then go and pick up your contaminated phone right away.
So, how do we wash our phones?
HOT WATER AND SOAP
We do not recommend dipping them in hot soapy water for 40+ seconds but there are ways to minimise the likelihood of it getting contaminated with COVID-19.
The most obvious answer is to clean your phone, and use hot water and soap. Why?
The COVID-19 virus has a fatty membrane and thus any detergent such as basic soap will break down the membrane, killing the virus and rendering it inactive. So how do you clean it with hot soapy water? First, make sure that the soap you choose is not corrosive to your device by testing it carefully in an inconspicuous location. Put some of the soap in a sink or in a bowl, dip your washcloth of some sort in (and wash your hands in there while you are at it), wring it out a bit so it is not dripping wet and then wipe down your phone.
You don’t want to splash too much over it — especially for devices that are not waterproof — but enough to get that soap onto the phone and kill any COVID-19 virus particles on there. Once that is done find a soft cloth that you know is clean (a tissue *should* be okay) and dry it.
While you have the soapy washcloth out, wash down your desk or where ever you normally keep your phone. Wipe my phone, the wireless charger it sits on followed by the keyboards and mouse and everything else in the area that I may come into contact with.
There are also things like disinfectant wipes but unless they contain a large percentage of alcohol — or a suitably strong antibacterial agent — they are useless against this virus.
I’m not sure I’d recommend putting hand sanitiser on your phone — remember for the sanitiser to kill the virus it must have at least 60% alcohol in it according to the CDC and we cannot guarantee that will not harm your phone.
Samsung also have some places around the world where they have UV sterilisers for phones — but all these places are now closed. You can also buy UV light sterilisers online but they are not a cheap solution and the cheaper ones are of dubious quality in our opinion.
Cleaning is good, not having or needing to clean is better
While cleaning you phone is a worthwhile exercise, what’s better is not needing to clean it at all. Going forward we recommend that you stop sharing devices. One device per person.
Why? You might pass the virus on to someone or they may pass it on to you — the best way for this disease to spread is via physical contact. Sharing a phone is probably worse than a hand shake for potential transmission, it’s basically a virus-spreading vector. Want to show someone a photo — you hold the phone, want them to read that awesome Ausdroid Post — send them the link.
It is not easy to keep things clean, especially with this virus making its way through our community but the basic use of soap and water can keep not just yourself but also your devices clean. Even better, once clean keep them to yourself.