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How Clean Is Your Phone?

We all know about washing our hands, but how often do you wash your phone? A recent YouGov survey of the British public has found that many of us rarely or never attempt to sanitise our handheld devices. When asked the question “How often, if at all, do you make a conscious effort to clean your mobile phone?” a huge 47% of respondents replied that they “not very often”, with a shocking fifth replying “never”! That’s a lot of skanky Samsungs!

The filthiest offenders were found to be those aged 50-64, with men and women equally neglecting their mobile hygiene. Clearly, the global Coronavirus pandemic has done little to alert us to the risks posed by our dirty phones.

So just how mucky is your mobile? A 2017 study conducted on 27 phones owned by teenagers (statistically the cleanest phone users) found that screens were home to thousands of viruses and bacteria, from E. coli – which causes nasty stomach problems –  to Streptococcus, which can cause serious skin infections. Most illness-causing viruses can survive for only a few hours on surfaces, but the most dangerous, such as the winter vomiting bug norovirus, can stick around for up to four weeks! Worst of all, phones made with glass fronts can host potentially infectious COVID-19 particles for up to 4 days in the right conditions. Turns out your iPhone could make you ill. So what can we do to combat the hidden handheld plague? Startups might have the solution. 

University College startup gelcard have invented a discreet, portable sanitiser dispensing device small enough to fit in your phone case. The containers, which look like tiny credit cards, snap in the middle to release a single dose of hand sanitising gel. Their design can even be adapted to reflect a specific brand identity, adding marketing potential as well as health and safety benefit.

Gelcard CEO Charles Robinson describes how his invention solves key issues in the popular sanitiser setup:

“Let’s take a restaurant, for example. … many indeed sanitise their hands at the door, but then will walk in, pull their chair out, touch the table, often the menu too, invariably contaminating their hands once they’ve passed the threshold.” (UCL Enterprise, 2021) 

Imagine if they were then to pick up their phone! gelcard allows consumers to conveniently take the first step towards a healthier, cleaner mobile – handling it with clean hands.  

As for how to clean your device, scientists recommend the following process: 

  1. Remove the phone from its case and switch it off
  2. Polish with a microfiber cloth
  3. Carefully wipe the screen with a gentle antibacterial wipe
  4. Air dry for 2-5 minutes
  5. Repeat steps with the phone case

Of course, the simple solution would be to keep your hands clean before touching the device, something UK startups know like the back of their hand – or phone! 

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