Have the cold and flu hit your household this winter too? If it has seemed like it's been a particularly brutal sickness season, you aren't alone. Lovely little viruses like influenza and norovirus have been making the rounds and according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, flu season often peaks in February which means it's no time to slack off on battling germs in your house.
One of the germiest culprits? Our phones. And tablets. And computer keyboards. Some reports have found that our cellphones are 10-18 times more germy than a toilet seat! And I'm guessing you don't put a toilet seat up to your face dozens of times a day.
So, with flu season in full swing, it’s crucial that we try to limit the number of germs we get on our tech devices. The good news is that if you are the only one using your tech devices, it is likely your germs on the phone and unlikely to make you sick. But I'm guessing your house is like mine where the kids are using my phone, tablets are shared and no keyboard is safe from kid fingers. Here are key tips for keeping your tech germ-free.
Step 1: Limit the Germs Getting On Your Phone
Wash your hands. During flu season you need to wash your hands more, plain and simple. Use soap and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Then apply lotion because all that hand-washing while good for your health can be rough on your skin.
Keep hand sanitizer nearby. While some reports have recommended caution when using hand sanitizer with kids (since kids are more likely to put their hands in their mouths), if you're spending all day working at a desk far away from a bathroom, a bottle of hand sanitizer can be life-saver for preventing the spread of germs. While all-natural and alcohol-free versions might be enticing, they don't work as well. Look for one that has at least 60% alcohol like this Purell with Aloe.
Use a headset or Bluetooth device. Even if your phone is germy, you can help keep those germs away from your face by using a Bluetooth-enabled headset or earpiece that keeps the work/music/call going, without your phone smashed next to your face. We love this one by Plantronics.
Don't use the phone in the bathroom. Really. Because this.
Step 2: Disinfect your tech surfaces
When sickness is running rampant, I disinfect my phone and keyboard almost every day. While Apple doesn't recommend using window cleaners, household cleaners, ammonia, or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide for cleaning iPhones, I can tell you from experience that I've swiped my iPhone with rubbing alcohol at least weekly for the last 2 years and haven't had a problem.
Two important things to remember when cleaning your tech devices:
- Don't spray anything directly onto your phone, tablet or keyboard. Liquid + electronic devices = bad. Always moisten a cloth with the cleaner.
- Use a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth. Not a paper towel. Not a bath towel. It's no good if you remove the germs but put scratches on your screen.
Here are three ways to sanitize your smartphones and other household tech.
Buy specialty tech cleaning wipes. There are a number of specialty cleaning wipes designed for use on tech devices. If you're hoping to de-germify your devices and kill things like the flu virus, ensure that the wipes have a disinfecting ingredient and aren't just for getting rid of smudges. I like these like these from Wireless Wipes which come in delicious scents like Pom-Citrus and Green Tea-Cucumber and Rosemary-Peppermint and are easy to keep in your purse or desk at work.
Make your own. If you're the DIY type or love a thrifty deal, you can make your own inexpensive disinfecting spray by mixing a 1:1 ratio of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and distilled water in a small spray bottle. Spray this mixture on a microfiber cloth and wipe away dirt, grime and germs from your screens and keyboards.
Get a disinfecting gadget to clean your gadgets. Granted these will only work on your cell phone and smaller items like earbuds, but for gadget-lovers who are also germaphobes, a device like PhoneSoap 2.0 uses UV light to sanitize your phone in just 5 minutes. Plus it charges making it a perfect place to pop your phone while you sleep. No late night Instagramming and you'll wake up to a charged and disinfected phone.
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