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I tried a UV-C sanitizer that works in just 60 seconds — here's what I think

It gives me the peace of mind that I need right now.
hand putting smartphone in uv light sanitizing bag
Jillian Ortiz / TODAY

Though I frequently wash my face masks, wipe down all high-touch surfaces in my home and apply hand sanitizer like it's my job, one item that I often forget to give the proper cleaning it deserves is my phone.

I bring my phone everywhere with me (as I'm sure we all do) and wipe it down when I remember. But according to my Screen Time data on my iPhone, I pick up my phone an average of 200 times a day — and I can admit I don't give it a cleaning each time I do.

So, when I learned that UV-C sanitizers can help kill germs and bacteria on hard surfaces like phones and keys, I was super excited to get my hands on the Homedics UC-Clean Portable Sanitizer Bag and try it out for myself. While no UV-C sanitizing device on the market specifically claims to kill the virus that causes COVID-19, I would at least have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that other pesky germs seeking refuge on my phone screen would be gone.

Homedics UV-Clean Portable Sanitizer Bag

How does a UV-C sanitizer work?

According to Dr. Philip Tierno, clinical professor of pathology and microbiology at NYU Langone Health, UV-C light destroys viruses and bacteria by destroying the DNA or RNA of the respective microorganism. The efficacy of a device depends on two factors: the length of exposure and the intensity of the UV-C light.

"The wavelength [of UV-C light] is usually 253 nanometers and that does kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi because it destroys the DNA or RNA. Viruses only have one — RNA or DNA, not both," Tierno told us.

Here's what I think

The Homedics UV sanitizer that I had the chance to try claims that it sanitizes whatever is placed inside the bag in just one minute, up to 10 times faster than other devices like it on the market. The bag itself is just 8 inches long, so anything placed inside will be in close proximity to the UV-C light, and the bag even includes a convenient holding tray for any items inside.

To use the sanitizer, simply unzip the bag and place whatever you want to sanitize inside and zip the pouch up all the way, placing the zipper on the magnetic area of the back of the case. The zipper must land on the magnet on the back so that the device knows it is OK to turn on. This feature is to protect your eyes, as Tierno told us UV-C light is so strong it can damage your corneas.

After the magnets match up, all you have to do is press the button on the side of the device to start the sanitization process, which takes just 60 seconds. The button will flash blue throughout the entire process. Once the light shuts off, you know it's safe to open the bag again and remove your items from inside.

smartphone in uv light sanitizing bag
Jillian Ortiz / TODAY

Although I have been practicing social distancing since the beginning of the pandemic, I recently flew to California for essential travel and wanted as much peace of mind as possible during my trip, so I brought the sanitizer along with me for the ride. It was small enough to fit inside my backpack that was already full of hand wipes, gloves and hand sanitizer, and I could easily grab it out of my bag during the flight whenever I felt it was necessary.

I sanitized my phone throughout my flight but left the case on, which could disrupt the sanitizing process. Tierno notes that UV-C light cannot penetrate through small nooks and crannies like buttons on your phone case, but I wiped my phone shortly after sanitizing it to reach what the UV-C light couldn't.

If wipes are not easily accessible, you can always keep your phone or other items inside for more than just one cycle. Homedics even shares the efficacy results for each of its sanitizing devices, so you know exactly how many cycles you should use in order to achieve your desired results.

Since I do not have microscopic vision, I cannot physically see any differences in the appearance of my phone, but I can sleep a little easier at night knowing that my phone is a bit cleaner than it normally would be.

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