UV phone sanitizers: a worthwhile investment or a waste of money?

Smartphone and coronavirus

Before we started living in a world in which sanitizing our hands seemingly every five minutes became the norm, you probably never gave much thought to the dirtiness of your smartphone’s surfaces.

Sure, we’ve all heard the toilet statistics (such as the claim that cellphones carry about 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats). But back in the days before the pandemic, how big a deal did you really think that was?

If you’ve taken to cleaning your smartphone as obsessively as many of us have been cleaning our hands since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, or you are at least considering how to optimize your approach in this area, you might be wondering whether you should start using an ultraviolet (UV) phone sanitizer.

UV phone sanitizers are designed to kill pathogens and superbugs. They do so by targeting the phone with UV light to sanitize the surface of the device. In order to get the best results, users should take their phone out of its case first, if they use one; they can always sanitize the case itself afterwards.

It is important to be aware that there is a distinct difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. Sanitization will reduce the number of germs on the surface of the given device, while disinfection eliminates many or all pathogenic microorganisms, except for bacterial spores, according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So, even using a UV phone sanitizer won’t eliminate the risk of developing an infectious disease from contact with your device – but of course, you should be aware of that already. And in any case, the CDC has said that transmission from contaminated surfaces “is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads.” Still, UV-C light has been shown in multiple studies to be an effective method to inactivate the COVID-19 virus.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States maintains a list of approved COVID-19 disinfectants. However, many of these products aren’t gentle on tech devices, so we would urge you to carefully read the directions before using one on your phone.

All in all, if you’re thinking about buying a UV phone sanitizer as a first line of defense against COVID-19, you’re probably going to put your tech at less risk by just using a face mask, getting vaccinated, and continuing to practice responsible social distancing. However, the right choice of UV phone sanitizer might still serve as a decent second line of defense.

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