Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J. (March 13, 2020) – Rutgers scholar Donald Schaffner is available to discuss how often, and with what chemicals, smartphone users should sanitize their devices amid fears of COVID-19.

“Many types of microorganisms can be found on our electronic devices, but they don’t thrive there; they die there. The concentration of bacteria and viruses on a touchscreen will decrease over time,  especially at higher temperatures and humidity. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, and staying home if you are sick, are the best ways to prevent COVID-19 and other infections,” said Schaffner, a Distinguished Professor and extension specialist with expertise in microbial risk assessment and handwashing.

Schaffner provided the following tips:

  • To viruses and bacteria, touchscreens are barren deserts. Microbes on a phone will die within hours or days.
  • Any pathogenic organisms on a touchscreen have the potential to cause illness – such as if a person with COVID-19 sneezes on a phone, which is then touched by someone else, who then touches their face.
  • Dry conditions, such as touching a dry phone with a dry finger, will transfer far fewer microorganisms.
  • Anyone wishing to disinfect a phone should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid damaging the phone and voiding their warranty. Recommendations may include using a small amount of ethanol or wipes with gentle quaternary ammonium-based compounds.
  • More emphasis should be placed on washing hands and using hand sanitizer.


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