According to a 2020 study, the coronavirus can live on metal, glass and plastic surfaces for as long as nine days. While the virus primarily spreads through aerosol transmission, high-touch surfaces can house pathogens. How can you continue to keep your phone free of the coronavirus and other microbes? This myth-busting material might help you minimize coronavirus anxiety.

Myth: Alcohol-based cleaning products will destroy your phone

Fact: “Don’t scrub at it like you’re trying to get baked on lasagna off of a casserole dish,” humorously advises Yahoo Finance. All Apple products can tolerate usage of 70% isopropyl wipes or Clorox wipes on surfaces. Google states that isopropyl alcohol or Clorox wipes may be used on its Pixel devices. Samsung advises customers to use a gentle cloth treated with disinfectant to clean phones. Direct application of liquid should be avoided.

Myth: Antibacterial phone accessories are questionable, at best

Fact: “Things like glass screen protectors with embedded silver ions are designed to kill nearly all bacteria that may accumulate on a screen,” says Verizon. The company suggests that individuals clean phones and accessories “once a day”.

Myth: Ultraviolet light (UV) is a questionable disinfectant, at best

Fact: According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, UV-C light does destroy virus particles. “It can be an effective disinfectant, but needs to be used correctly to avoid damage to the skin and eyes”, states the group’s website. Previously, individuals have reported serious injury due to improperly installed UV-C lamps.

In a 2017 study funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers discovered that UV disinfection can cut transmission of four common pathogens by 30%. Start-ups are launching UV robots in the hopes of speeding up UV-C disinfection processes.

That said, ultraviolet light is really a second-line of defense against the coronavirus. Other practices, from hand-washing to social distancing, demonstrate greater efficacy. But what about UV-C for phones?

Myth: UV-C phone sanitizers are definitely scams

Fact: Yes, in some cases, vendors sell sub-standard products that fail to disinfect devices. This is similar to how scammers previously sold fake N-95 masks. However, some phone sanitizers may zap the coronavirus. Nothing is guaranteed though.

Expert opinion on usage is mixed. In an interview with NBC, Amest Adalja, an MD who works with John Hopkins University Center for Health Security, stated “I just have a hard time trying to find a role for [UV sanitizers] that is effective in the general public where you have an actual, meaningful impact, and not just some kind of marginal benefit that’s not really worth it”.

Other physicians recommend that consumers search for certain product specifications, and suggest that consumers evaluate prices to determine level of potential protection. If you’re going to purchase a UV sanitizer accessory, go with a reputable brand. In summary, when it comes to UV sanitizers, the jury really isn’t out yet.

For more on keeping your phone free from the coronavirus, check out this article from the New York Times.