There’s no question about it. We are obsessed with our smartphones. Recent studies suggest we use our phones an average of 150 times per day. Heavy users can log over 5400 daily ‘touches’.

Because we bring phone and tablets with us everywhere – on our daily commute, in the kitchen, to the bathroom – they’re often a breeding ground for bacteria. In fact the average phone is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat.

As these devices are used more in hospitals and food service, areas where bacterial contamination can be really dangerous, people are searching for effective way to sanitize their devices.

So what are the options?

The Default Solution: Chemical Wipes.

You probably know what these look like. They are pre-moistened cloths that use alcohol, bleach or hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria. Wipes used in hospitals are often much stronger or more concentrated than household products.

These wipes are commonplace in many facilities and are relatively easy to use – but they will often damage your phone over time. The chemical concentrations in these wipes – particularly the ones designed to kill superbugs like MRSA – will erode the oleophobic coating on your touch screen.

Oleophobic… What?

This is a thin oil-repellent layer applied to most modern smartphones and tablets, preventing fingerprint smudges from adhering to the glass. It also provides scratch resistance and keeps your device feeling slick. It’s what allows smartphones and tablets to function so well.

Over time, the chemicals can make the screen appear cloudy and impact functionality. Take a look at this case of phone cleaning gone wrong.

Water on oleophobicsurface vs. coating-free glass

Aside from this, the abrasiveness of the wipes will scratch your screen. And if the wipes aren’t used how the manufacturer recommends (i.e. the surface is not kept wet for the alloted time, or if they are used on multiple surfaces), they are not as effective at killing the microorganisms.

What Do Device Manufacturers Recommend?

Apple specifically instructs users that only a soft, slightly damp cloth should be used on the screen. No chemical cleaning products are included in their cleaning instructions and this often leads to screen warranty issues. Samsung gives similar recommendations.

However, that process won’t actually kill bacteria, viruses or spores on your phone. 

One technology that can deactivate these pathogens without harming your screen is UV light. It won’t physically clean the devices so in the event of heavy soiling they will have to be wiped down with a damp cloth prior to sanitization – but it won’t damage sensitive touch screens. This technology is now in use by hospitals, food processors and long-term care facilities around the world.

Other good practices to avoid getting sick from bacteria on your phone include avoiding sharing your phone with others, using headphones when on the phone instead of pressing it against your face, and practicing regular hand washing.

To learn more about CleanSlate UV’s mobile device sanitizing solutions, and what makes CleanSlate UV the most effective tabletop sanitizer available, please visit our website at

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