The Best Phone Cleaners to Sanitize Your Phone
Your phone is gross, but a UV light phone sanitizer can blast bacteria out of every nook and cranny.
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Research shows that we touch our phones more than 2,600 times a day. And every time we reach for them, we transfer thousands of tiny bacteria, viruses, and other organisms from our hands to our screens (and vice versa). That’s why experts recommend using a phone sanitizer to clean your screen just as often as (or even more regularly than) you clean your AirPods, laptop, and other tech tools.
Most experts recommend using Clorox or Lysol wipes to clean your phone, but if you want to be extra thorough, add UV phone sanitization to your regular cleaning schedule. It works like this: Place your device inside the UV sanitizer box and turn it on to release artificial UV-C light, which destroys harmful microscopic organisms lurking on your phone. “This, in theory, will kill anything inside the sanitizer, including any viruses,” says Sarah McConomy, a mobile phone tech expert.
Do UV sanitizers work?
While some experts are skeptical, a handful of studies have found that UV light can effectively kill common illnesses, such as MRSA and certain types of coronaviruses. In fact, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, UV-C light has been shown in laboratory experiments to inactivate the COVID-19 virus. And many hospitals, including the network at Duke University, have used UV disinfection for years.
Just keep in mind that there’s a difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. “UV sanitizers do not disinfect; they sanitize, which means they reduce the number of germs on a surface,” says Steven Winkelman, a mobile analyst with PCMag. In other words, a UV phone sanitizer should not replace basic cleaning measures, like regular handwashing and surface sanitization.
If you’re looking to purchase a UV light phone sanitizer, Winkelman suggests choosing one from a trusted brand or a company that provides shoppers with results from a reputable lab that prove the product’s effectiveness. Consider the device’s portability and ease of use, too. “It shouldn’t be much bigger than the phone itself, should be easy to carry, and [would] preferably run off an internal battery so you can sanitize wherever you are,” McConomy says. So, which UV light phone sanitizer is best? We asked tech experts about their favorites and the features they love. Whether you’re buying a phone sanitizer for yourself or giving it as a tech gift, these products have you covered.
Best overall: Simplehuman Cleanstation
Shoppers who care more about convenience than cost (and this is the most expensive of the bunch) will want to consider this super simple device. “Although it’s pricey, I think Simplehuman Cleanstation is the best choice for most people,” Winkelman says. In addition to cleaning your phone in just 30 seconds, the Cleanstation automatically raises and lowers your device while it sanitizes, reducing the likelihood that you might touch the phone and pass on germs. You’ll eventually want to wipe down the exterior of this sanitizer, so be sure you know how to clean stainless steel.
- Kills 99.9 percent of germs in 30 seconds
- Contains 30 high-intensity UV-C LED lights
- Automatically raises and lowers phone to prevent cross-contamination
Best lightweight: Mophie UV Sanitizer with Wireless Charging
Weighing less than a pound and not much bigger than a smartphone, Mophie’s UV phone sanitizer is perfect for slipping in a bag or suitcase while on the go, McConomy says. This phone sanitizer uses UV-C bulbs to zap germs, and the charger on top of the lid can give your phone’s battery a boost—no need to plug a cord into the charging port.
- Roughly the size of a smartphone
- Wireless charger on top of the lid
Best 360-degree sanitizing: PhoneSoap Pro
Winkelman recommends the PhoneSoap Pro for people who want an effective phone sanitizer at a reasonable price. With four UV-C LED bulbs and a vacuum-plated aluminum inner shell, the device ensures that every inch of your phone is sanitized. It kills 99.99 percent of bacteria in five minutes and fits the largest of smartphones. PhoneSoap’s technology is also trusted by medical professionals, who use the company’s UV disinfection device ExpressPro in hospitals, according to Winkelman. While the phone sanitizer is doing the work for you, make use of your time by starting your next project: cleaning your dishwasher.
- 360-degree disinfection
- Fits large cell phones
- Technology used in hospitals
Best travel: Omni Ultraviolet UV Sanitizing Bag
For people who are always on the go, Omni Ultraviolet’s sanitizing bag does double duty. This two-in-one phone sanitizer cleans your phone while also toting small items, such as your wallet, makeup, and cash, according to McConomy. An independent lab found the product was 99.99 percent effective at killing germs like salmonella and E. coli. And as an added bonus, every purchase comes with a UV-C test strip so you can confirm the sanitizer uses real UV-C light, not a black light. Next up on the cleaning list? It’s about time you cleaned your coffee maker.
- One-year warranty
- Kills germs up to 10 times faster than any other sanitizer
- Products tested by Twin Arbor Labs, an ISO-certified microbiology lab in California
Best looking: Lexon Oblio
If you want a phone sanitizer that elevates your home decor, look no further than the Lexon Oblio. It comes in colors like gold, matte black, white, and navy blue and can be a tasteful addition to any shelf or bookcase. “This UV-C sanitizer and wireless charger has a luxury feel to it,” McConomy says. “It will fit in with your home decor perfectly, as it has a vase-like or ornamental appearance.” Just as sanitizing your phone is easier than you might think, cleaning your oven is a simpler task than you’re imagining. (Yes, really!)
- Kills 99.99 percent of germs
- Compatible with all smartphones between 4.7 and 6.6 inches
Best affordable: Sharper Image UV-Zone Phone Sanitizer
On a budget? Consider the UV-Zone phone sanitizer, which costs less than $20. “With such a low price, this is the ideal UV sanitizer if you don’t want to break the bank,” McConomy says. This product charges your phone wirelessly while it sanitizes, making it a staple for your home, office, or hotel room. It’s certainly quicker and more convenient than cleaning your TV or laptop screen.
- Safety lock to prevent accidental UV exposure
- Light indicates when cleaning is finished
- Ringtones are audible through closed device
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- Sarah McConomy, chief operating officer of SellCell.com
- Steve Winkelman, mobile analyst at PCMag
- DScout: “Putting a Finger on Our Phone Obsession”
- Duke Health: “UV Light Helps Duke Hospitals Fight Transmission of Superbugs”
- The Lancet: “Enhanced terminal room disinfection and acquisition and infection caused by multidrug-resistant organisms and Clostridium difficile (the Benefits of Enhanced Terminal Room Disinfection study): a cluster-randomised, multicentre, crossover study”
- The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: “Does ultraviolet (UV) light kill the coronavirus?”