Learn how using isopropyl alcohol, hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray, and other cleaners can kill germs on both of these essentials.

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Sanitizing your phone is just as important as cleaning other surfaces during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the same goes for your device's case. According to the Federal Communications Commission, the average American checks their phone 52 times a day, so ramping up your device cleaning would be a safe bet. "That's 52 opportunities for germs to spread!" says Julie McKinney, PhD, the R&D director of equity, claims and compliance, hygiene, and home at Reckitt Benckiser. "Given this, we suggest disinfecting your phone at least once a day as a preventative measure."

Even if your phone use is pretty low overall, experts share that you should take your phone out of its case on a regular basis for a good cleaning. And there are certain products you'll want to keep on hand to ensure this important piece of technology stays bacteria-free.

woman cleaning smartphone sanitizing spray
Credit: blackCAT / Getty Images

Take your phone out of the case at least twice a week.

"To determine how often you should clean your phone, you'll want to look at your lifestyle," says Jennifer Parnell, co-founder of Humble Suds. "For example, someone who primarily spends most of their time at home will need to clean their phone much less than someone interacting regularly with other people and places." At a minimum, the cleaning expert suggests taking your phone out of its case at least twice a week for a cleaning. She also says to think of your case like an extension of your phone, so you should clean the outer layer of protection just as often.

Know how to sanitize your case.

Cleaning your phone case is similar to how you would wipe down general high-touch surfaces: Use disinfectants like isopropyl alcohol, hand sanitizer, or a disinfectant spray, Parnell says. Just keep an eye on your manufacturer's guidelines to ensure you don't damage it. "To disinfect a case, we recommend cleaning it first with an all-purpose cleaner, like the Humble Suds All-Purpose Cleaner ($14.95, humblesuds.com), or wipe down the case with soap and water," she explains. "Once dry, spray a disinfectant, hand sanitizer, or apply isopropyl alcohol to a towel and apply to the case." Then, let it dry.

Rid your phone of bacteria.

Your phone, on the other hand, will need a touch more care. For starters, make sure to unplug your phone before cleaning it. Also avoid spraying cleaners, aerosols, or cleaning solutions with harsh chemicals or bleach directly onto the device, McKinney says. Consider using a Lysol Disinfecting Wipe ($13.29, amazon.com) to kill the bacteria, or simply use a lint-free microfiber towel, like the Your Choice Microfiber Cleaning Cloths ($5.76, amazon.com), for a quick wipe down. This will ensure you don't scratch the phone's screen; after, apply a light coat of cleaning solution that works with your brand. "For example, Samsung phones can be cleaned with alcohol," Parnell notes. "To clean a phone approved for alcohol-based cleaners, power down the phone and make sure it is unplugged. Apply isopropyl alcohol or an approved sanitizer for electronics to a paper or lint-free microfiber towel and carefully apply to the phone, avoiding openings." But other phones, like Apple devices, can't safely be cleaned with alcohol. Using a UV cleaning product, such as the Sharper Image Smartphone UV Sanitizer ($7.99, homedepot.com), can kill germs and viruses without harming the electronic itself.

Keep these essentials clean together.

"Clean(er) hands equal a cleaner phone," says Parnell. "Focus on washing your hands regularly [and] routinely throughout the day and that will result in less transmission of harmful bacteria to your phone." She also recommends straying away from using your cell phone when you're out and about until you get the chance to wash your hands. So, if you're headed to the grocery store, for instance, bring a note to jot down what you need. Another tip? Always avoid bringing your phone to places high in bacteria like the bathroom.

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