How to disinfect your iPhone and iPad

How to disinfect your iPhone and iPad
(Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)

With the current coronavirous outbreak, the world has been reminded about the importance of washing our hands for 20 seconds (with the UK, rather infamously, being told to sing the lyrics to Happy Birthday twice over to indicate the right amount of time). We've also been advised to touch our faces as little as possible.

So what about that thing we handle more than any other item in our possession – the same one that we often press against our faces to make calls? Surely we should also be keeping our smartphones clean, but how the heck do we 'wash' them? 

Well, Apple has just updated its official cleaning advice on how to safely disinfect products – including your iPhone, as well as your iPad. The manufacturer confirms that it is safe to use alcohol-based disinfectant. From the Apple support page

"Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don't use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don't submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Don't use on fabric or leather surfaces."

 Read more: Best iPhone for photography

This ties in with the latest medical advice, recommending that frequently touched surfaces are cleaned at least once a day using either 70% alcohol solutions or bleach (which is NOT safe for your iPhone). 

"Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily," recommends the CDC. "This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks… Options include: Alcohol solutions – Ensure solution has at least 70% alcohol."

It is worth bearing in mind that the iPad, iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS, XS Max, X, 8, 8 Plus and iPhone 7 possess a fingerprint- and oil-resistant oleophobic coating (from the iPhone 8 onwards, this coating is on the front and back). Apple advises that, "the ability of this coating to repel oil will diminish over time with normal usage," and "cleaning products and abrasive materials will diminish the coating" and might scratch your device.

Since other manufacturers, such as Samsung, have yet to officially confirm if the recommended 70% alcohol disinfectants are safe to use on their devices, you will need to exercise your own judgement on whether you would protect your own wellbeing or that of your phone or tablet. 

Read more: 

Best stylus for iPads and iPhones
The best iPhone for photography
Apple iPhone 11 Pro review
Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max review

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.