The COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic has become a significant threat to the health of billions. While it looms large over the world, destroying the livelihood of people, researchers have said a lot about preventative measures. However, in this discord, most of us have forgotten about contamination through our most used electronic device, the wretched smartphone.
How Long Can The Coronavirus Live On The Surface Of A Smartphone?
Most people don’t realize how risky it can be to use a contaminated smartphone. While sanitizing our hands destroys most germs, it’s of no use when we touch our smartphones once again. Specially when an average smartphone is reported to have 25127 bacteria every square inch.
The numbers are way higher than your average toilet seat. Are you grossed out yet? Continue reading this article to know how long can the coronavirus survive on the surface of a smartphone.
Significant Fertile Ground For Germs
Smartphones are one of, if not the most, exposed gadget to all germs alike, including bacteria and viruses. Smartphones touch a lot of surfaces, body parts within a day.
So it is not surprising to see experts express their concerns about the novel coronavirus spreading through smartphones. Some of the concerns include – how long the virus can survive on top of a smartphone.
World Health Organisation Headquarters
WHO studied the first coronavirus named SARSr-CoV (Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus) way back in 2003. According to the study, the virus could stay stable up to 96 hours on top of a glass surface. It could thrive for the longest on top of a glass surface than on other materials.
That is four days and especially scary as many smartphones nowadays come with a “glass sandwich” design. That means, most of the surface (both sides) of many modern smartphones are covered by glass. The studies also concluded that the virus could stay alive for up to 72 hours on stainless steel and aluminum.
That means the rims/edges of your smartphones are not safe as well. Now, anyone can say that the results with the current coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can be different. So, let’s look at some of the recent studies involving the coronavirus.
The NIH Studies
National Institutes of Health Headquarters – According to the latest studies this month from NIH (National Institutes of Health, United States), the results are the same. The study said that the coronavirus could live for up to 4 and 24 hours on top of copper and a cardboard box respectively.
But most importantly, the researchers said, the virus can live for about 72 hours on aluminum or stainless steel surfaces. That is, again, the same as earlier studies. Although the NIH studies did not factor in glass surfaces, we can assume it’s the same as the WHO studies.
According to studies conducted by the Dscout research firm, an average person touches their smartphones over 2600 times a day. It may sound like fearmongering, but all tests do point to smartphones being capable enough to spread the coronavirus. That too at a massive rate and more than enough efficient transmission.
Misconceptions about the coronavirus are also running rampant across the globe. Putting a demanding workload on a smartphone or even simply putting it to charge can get a smartphone very warm. So, some may think that the virus can be eradicated from the outer surface of a phone that way. But there simply isn’t any scientific evidence to this belief.
How To Disinfect Your Smartphone
99% pure IPA (Isopropyl alcohol) is the best solution to clean any electronic device. It is non-conductive and doesn’t corrode materials as it evaporates quickly, way before starting any chemical reaction with the surface. Be it for cleaning thermal paste off of a processor or cleaning your smartphones and accessories.
IPA also disinfects your smartphone, so it is the best cleaning agent you can use to clean your smartphones. However, IPA at 99% concentration is pretty much pure IPA and can be hard to find. Any concentration of IPA on or above 90% should be fine.
But in case you can’t find that as well, you can buy rubbing alcohol from a medical store. Rubbing alcohol generally is IPA at anywhere between 50-70% concentration. But we don’t recommend using such low concentrations of IPA as you dilute more water, the more conductive it becomes.
Also, a lower concentration of IPA doesn’t evaporate quickly due to having more water in it. Thus, as it dries, it can leave streak marks of water on glass surfaces from the high water content. And if you are using rubbing alcohol, we recommend you avoid any open part or gap of your phone.
Be it the type-C or micro-USB port, the headphone jack, the microphones, speakers, or even the SIM/SD card tray. If it enters any open part and doesn’t evaporate quickly, it is very much conductive and can damage your device. On the other hand, 99% pure IPA possesses no such challenges as it always evaporates very quickly and is non-conductive. We also recommend you use a clean microfiber cloth to clean your device.
Misconceptions About Isopropyl Alcohol
There are numerous reports of IPA being dangerous for the oleophobic coatings of smartphone displays. The oleophobic layer is an oil repellent coating used on touch input capable displays to avoid fingerprints, smudges, and micro-scratches.
A perfect example of this in effect is, you can clean heavily used spectacles using IPA. But you would be able to see smudges on the glasses after it dries. But if you clean a touch input capable display, it should look polished like new.
So, those reports are false as IPA evaporates quickly (within 2-3 seconds) before chemically reacting to anything, as said before. So fret not, have complete peace of your mind while cleaning and disinfecting your smartphone screen using IPA regularly.
We also recommend you to do the same for all your other accessories every once in a while, like controllers. If you use these regularly, these possess some of the most significant dangers of contamination right after smartphones.
In this article, we have discussed how long the coronavirus on the surface of your smartphone. And we also have provided a comprehensive guide on how you can disinfect your smartphones. We hope this article will help you in some way to stay safe in these dire times.