Fight Against Flu Includes Keeping Your Phone Clean

You’ve made it this far into winter without succumbing to a fever, the chills and the aches. Don’t let your guard down yet, though — we’re still in the heart of flu season.

You got your flu shot, and you heed the warnings about washing your hands and covering your mouth. But have you thought about that germ cesspool you touch a thousand times a day?

Yes, it’s your cellphone (and other tech devices, for that matter).

”Your cellphone can get pretty dirty,” says Agent Nick Karakatsoulis, who manages the Geek Squad at the Best Buy store in Mobile, Alabama. “I wipe mine off a lot.”

Dr. Nila Suntharam, an infectious disease doctor at Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, agrees. “How often you clean your devices depends on the person — it could be once a day or once a week,” she says. “But it’s important to clean them regularly.”

She recommends using alcohol-based wipes to kill the germs. She also says you should avoid taking devices into areas like the bathroom and, not surprisingly, preaches good hand hygiene.

Avoid other people’s devices

Nick says he and his team are constantly using the hand sanitizer they keep nearby and shy away from using someone else’s cellphone.

“Sometimes a customer will want us to talk to a spouse on their phone. We just put it on speaker,” he says.

A few other tips:

  • Avoid using regular household cleaners on your portable devices — the cleaners aren’t designed for touchscreens.
  • Don’t use regular cloth or paper towels. Nick prefers eyeglass cleaning cloths.
  • Avoid spraying cleaner directly onto your device.

One more thing: Don’t forget about those game controllers.

“If you’ve got a gaming console and you’ve got the neighbor kids coming and going, it’s a good idea to keep a disinfectant spray handy,” Nick says. “I replace my controllers about once a year, just because I like to have fresh ones.”

For years, people have been told to stop the spread of germs by keeping their hands clean. Now we can update that advice to include our tech devices.