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Keeping your phone germ-free

Don’t let your cell phone play a part in spreading the flu

March 1, 2017

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We’ve all either had it, or seen someone with the symptoms: the fever, the chills, the aches. Welcome to the heart of flu season. You’ve heard the warnings about washing your hands and covering your mouth, but have you thought about that germ-carrying device you’re interacting with a thousand times a day?

Yes, your cell phone could be a pocket-sized vessel for spreading germs. So as your high school English teacher used to say about your essays, “Keep it clean.”

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

Dr. Nila Suntharam, an infectious disease doctor at Park Nicollet in St. Louis Park, MN, agrees.

“How often you clean your device 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 any alcohol based wipes to ensure the germs are killed. She also says you should avoid taking devices into areas like the bathroom and, not surprisingly, preaches good hand hygiene.

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

“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—they 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 console game 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 mobile devices.

To learn more about how to stay healthy, read one of these articles:

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