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Washing our hands and face is something we do often and never think twice about. We sanitize high-touch surfaces in our household and spray disinfectants to keep germs at bay. What we don’t realize is that all of the precautionary measures we take might be easily reversed just by grabbing our phones, keys and other daily essentials.
A study conducted by the University of Arizona revealed that your cellphone is a hot spot for germs — in fact, they found that it can carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats.
While you might be familiar with using disinfectant wipes to clean your phone, another possible way to combat the germs that live on your phone (and even elsewhere in your home) is with UV-C sanitation.
What is UV-C?
“On the UV light spectrum, there are UV-A, B and C lights. Only the UV-C light can kill germs,” Philip Tierno, clinical professor of pathology and microbiology at NYU Langone Health, told Shop TODAY.
This means that the wavelength of UV-C light is strong enough to penetrate the nucleic acid of viruses and bacteria, either killing them or preventing them from becoming infectious.
“UV-C light has a wavelength between 200-270 nanometers, and a midrange between 250-253 nanometers which kills bacteria, viruses and some protozoan parasites,” Tierno said.
How do UV-C sanitizers work?
These essentially work by using special bulbs that can emit the proper amount of UV-C light needed to kill bacteria on smooth surfaces.
“UV light works because it damages the DNA of bacteria, and the DNA or RNA of viruses,” Donald Schaffner, extension specialist in food science and professor at Rutgers University, told Shop TODAY. “If you damage the DNA of the bacteria it dies, and if you damage the nucleic acid of the virus enough it cannot infect.”
There are a few roadblocks to UV-C sanitizers if not used in the right way or with the right products. Since UV-C light works best on smooth, flat surfaces, it is important to note that a UV-C sanitizer may not work optimally if it is used on items with rough surfaces.
“If a surface is rough (even at the microscopic level), bacteria and viruses can hide in the valleys in the shade so that they are not hit by the UV rays,” Schaffner said. Because of this, Tierno notes that it may not be able to effectively clean phone cases or buttons on your mobile device.
Additionally, you should wipe down the item you want to clean before using a UV-C sanitizer. "If microorganisms are going to be killed by this device, the surface needs to be clean of any material that is present on the phone such as dust, skin cells and skin oils," Donald English, a microbiologist and owner of Donald J. English Microbiological Quality Consulting LLC, told Shop TODAY.
If you're looking to test out UV-C sanitation yourself, we found a few products that might be worth trying.
UV phone sanitizers
This portable sanitizer is finally back in stock. It can last up to 18 uses on a single charge, so you can keep it in the car to quickly sanitize your phone, keys and credit cards after a trip to the store.
This compact sanitizer is a three-in-one device, intended to charge and sanitize your phone or other small items. It can also act as an aromatherapy diffuser!
Two styles of this sleek sanitizer are available for less than $40 from Urban Outfitters. It's large enough to fit most cellphones and can both charge and sanitize wireless-enabled devices simultaneously.
This sanitizer uses a six-minute cycle to sanitize phones, keys, glasses and more. It can also charge wireless-enabled devices as it sanitizes, leaving you with a sterile device and a full battery.
Depending on the cycle you choose, this sanitizer claims to kill up to 99.9% of viruses and bacteria living on the surfaces of items ranging from cell phones to keys to makeup brushes. It also features a UV-C protected window, so you can see when the sterilization process is complete.
Casetify's UV Sanitizer claims to kill 99.99% of germs on your phone in three minutes. Not only is it portable, but it also features a wireless charging system so you can charge and sanitize your phone at once. The six UV bulbs boast a lifetime of 10,000 hours, so you can be assured plenty of uses before having to replace any bulbs. One hundred percent of the proceeds from purchases of the UV Sanitizer will go to GlobalGiving's coronavirus relief fund, but the brand notes that the sanitizer is "not proven to kill coronavirus."
In just 20 minutes, this sleek device works to remove 99.9% of the germs on your phone thanks to the UV light and ionizer technology. The wireless charging feature allows your phone to reach a full charge in three hours, so you can leave home with a clean phone and a full battery.
This popular sanitizer charges and sanitizes your phone at the same time. This device requires 10 minutes to sanitize and includes an indicator light that shuts off when your device is ready for use.
While the device is made to fit most phones and items with flat surfaces, since UV-C light penetrates superficially, each device works best when you remove your phone case before use.
The Steri Wand is meant to sanitize surfaces in about 20 seconds, making it a great option to use while on-the-go.
This unique sanitizer is intended for use with pacifiers and bottle nipples, and claims to kill 99% of viruses and odor-causing bacteria in one minute. It also boasts an auto shut-off feature upon opening the lid, so you can safely retrieve your items once sterilization is complete.
This sanitizer from Homedics claims to kill up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses by sanitizing your phone in just one minute. While it is made to hold nearly all phone sizes, you can also use it to sanitize eyeglasses, credit cards and keys, according to the brand.
Think of this one as a larger version of the PhoneSoap. It features the same UV sanitizer that is meant to kill 99.99% of germs and is large enough to fit most electronics — from iPads to Kindles to your Nintendo Switch. Also inside the HomeSoap are two USB ports, so you can charge up to two devices at once while they are being sanitized.
With over 1,000 reviews, this self-cleaning water bottle claims to work with just the push of a button. The UV-C light inside of the bottle is meant to kill odor-causing and harmful bacteria in one minute, according to the brand. You can choose from two different sizes and five different colors, and each purchase from the "benefit" edition will help support Well Aware, a non-profit that helps to create sustainable water systems around the world.
This handheld water purifier uses UV-C light to kill 99.99% of protozoa and even viruses, according to its description. When the water is fully purified, the bulb will turn off and an indicator light will let you know to remove the device. Though it is compact, it can last for up to 8,000 uses.
Your toothbrush can carry a bounty of germs, from bacteria to yeast and even E. coli. Thus, investing in a toothbrush that you can sanitize might not be a bad idea. This electronic toothbrush features a sanitizing base that is designed to kill 99.9% of bacteria in just eight minutes. It also comes with two replacement heads, so you can sanitize, clean and replace when necessary.
This self-sanitizing water bottle features double-wall vacuum insulation, which helps keep hot beverages hot for up to 12 hours and cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours. Just one charge can allow you to sanitize for up to one month without recharging.
For more stories like this, check out:
- These Jill Bauer-approved cleaning products will leave your home spotless
- Allergies getting the best of you? These air purifiers are expert-approved
- These beauty brands are making hand sanitizer — and it's still in stock