At Spectralink, we are monitoring the progression of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and are carefully following CDC guidelines to protect our staff, partners, and customers throughout the globe. In addition, we’re encouraging everyone in our network to do their part to reduce the spread of infection by following a few best practices for cleaning and disinfecting their mobile devices. We’re in this together!
The Importance of Disinfecting Your Mobile Device
As COVID-19 has progressed, we’ve been getting more and more questions about how to keep smartphones and other mobile devices clean. From consumers to healthcare workers to retail associates, most of us carry mobile devices both for personal use and for work. In enterprise environments, many of these devices are shared among multiple coworkers, who may or may not follow the same strict hand washing procedures. In addition, phones are frequently set down on high touch surfaces like tabletops.
In the healthcare sector, mobile devices are used to call nurses, access patient health records, and enter data at patient bedsides. However, these devices can harbor bacteria and can be a vector for disease transmission if they are not properly sanitized. In fact, improperly disinfected phones can contribute to the risk of healthcare-associated infections / hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). One study screened 200 mobile phones from healthcare workers (HCWs) in 14 operating rooms and an intensive care unit (ICU). The results showed that 94.5% of the mobile phones demonstrated evidence of contamination with various pathogens (Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials, 2009).
While the novel coronavirus has drawn increased attention to the need to sanitize mobile devices, please note that keeping mobile devices properly cleaned and disinfected is always important to preventing the spread of potential harmful pathogens, not just during an outbreak of this scale.
The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
Cleaning your phone with a microfiber cloth may produce the appearance of cleanliness, but in general, it’s not enough to remove harmful pathogens from the surface. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the differences between cleaning and disinfecting as follows:
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection (CDC).
Best practice is to clean mobile phones of visible impurities first, followed by disinfecting the surface with a chemical cleaner.
Choose the Appropriate Disinfectant Solutions
The type of chemical cleaner used will depend on the mobile device. For example, many consumer-grade devices will not hold up to repeated disinfecting with harsh chemicals, and many do not have the IP rating necessary to avoid the ingress of liquid that can damage internal device components. However, enterprise-grade devices, like the Versity smartphone from Spectralink, are designed to hold up to frequent cleaning and disinfecting procedures using a wide variety of standard cleaning products for medical environments including but not limited to: hydrogen peroxide (3% solution), bleach (10% solution, not to be used on metal charging contacts), and isopropyl alcohol (91% solution).
Furthermore, with an IP68 rating, the Versity smartphone is sealed to withstand dust ingress and unintentional submersion in water (up to 1 meter for 30 minutes). (Note: do not deliberately expose Versity smartphones to liquids, steam or other corrosive environments that may result in permanent damage to the unit in the process of cleaning it). Download the technical bulletin to see complete cleaning guidelines and a list of all cleaning product that are safe to use on the Versity smartphone.
Please note: There are many unknowns with the novel coronavirus, including how long the virus remains viable on surfaces. The CDC currently recommends frequently disinfecting surfaces with EPA-registered disinfectants and household cleaners, including diluted bleach (1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water) and alcohol solutions of at least 70% alcohol. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective application (CDC).
Establish a Regular Disinfecting Cadence
In addition to choosing the right chemical cleaners, it is important to establish an appropriate cadence for cleaning and disinfecting your phone. In many cases, it’s not enough to clean/disinfect once per day. The timing and frequency of cleanings will depend on where and how the mobile device is used. For example, phones used in patient rooms should be disinfected at a higher frequency compared to phones used in other locations throughout a hospital.
Ultraviolet Enclosures Provide Additional Safeguards for Healthcare Applications
In medical environments, germicidal ultraviolet (UV) systems can also be employed as an additional safeguard against HAIs. UV germicidal enclosures can deliver a kill rate greater than 99.99% for the toughest contaminants. Because of their effectiveness, UV boxes are an additional safeguard against HAIs and can fill the gaps in hospitals’ infection prevention protocols. However, while ultraviolet light destroys viruses, bacteria, and spores, it also may damage plastics.
Versity smartphones have been tested with the AUVS KR615, a medical-grade UV enclosure specifically designed for disinfecting mobile devices. Due to its superior plastic enclosure and precision manufacturing, Versity exceeded performance expectations and retained full functionality and integrity throughout the tests.
Finally, Remember to Wash Your Hands Frequently
Every time you pick up your phone, you can transfer microorganisms from your hands to the surface of the device. Follow CDC guidelines for hand washing, including using both soap and water for at least 20 seconds, to help reduce the risk of harmful pathogens building up on the phone between device cleaning/disinfecting.