Apple has finally given users a clear answer as to whether it’s safe to use disinfectant on its products, and it turns out it’s perfectly fine to use 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox disinfecting wipes to clean your phone.
Last week, Gizmodo reached out to several leading gadget manufacturers and asked whether it was safe to use alcohol to disinfect their products. Apple, for one, previously said on a support page that iPhones have “a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic—oil repellent—coating. Cleaning products and abrasive materials will diminish the coating and might scratch your iPhone.” But now they appear to have changed their minds: Apple contacted Gizmodo on Monday with a link to an updated version of a support page, which now includes text specifically addressing how to disinfect Apple products.
“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,” the notice states. “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.”
The clarity on disinfecting products—and whether or not you can do so without harming a gadget—comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to“disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe” as a preventative measure during the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak. For most of us, there are likely few items that we touch more throughout the day than our phones, and recommendations against using alcohol or cleaning wipes complicated preventive defenses.
On its own support page, Lenovo says that you can use a dab of isopropyl alcohol to clean its computer keyboards, or a 50-50 mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water to clean its LCD displays (while the computer is powered down, obviously). The same goes for Dell. When asked about their formal policies for disinfecting gadgets, Lenovo, HP, and Dell all deferred to recommendations by the CDC and the World Health Organization. The latter advises that if someone expects “a surface may be contaminated, use a disinfectant to clean it. After touching it, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.”
Samsung did not immediately return a request for comment. Google, meanwhile, notes on a Pixel support page that users can “use ordinary household soap” on a damp cloth or cleaning wipes to clean their phones. A Google spokesperson confirmed to Gizmodo that isopropyl alcohol-based wipes and Clorox Disinfecting Wipes are safe, but noted that device owners should “avoid getting moisture into any openings, such as the USB-C port.”
Apple’s updated advisory does include a list of several things to note for any gadget cleaning: make sure anything you’re cleaning is powered down and unplugged; do not apply liquids directly to any product; avoid getting any kind of moisture into any device openings; and try to use soft, lint-free or microfiber cloths to clean your devices.
Added comment from Google.