published Thursday, January 17th, 2013

iChoo: How to safely sanitize computer touchscreens during cold and flu season

Verilux Cleanwave Sanitizing Wand
Verilux Cleanwave Sanitizing Wand

  • photo
    Monster CleanTouch solution with microfiber cloth

VERILUX CLEANWAVE SANITIZING WAND

Description: Like the CellBlaster, the CleanWave uses ultraviolet light to eliminate germs and has been proven in laboratories to reduce germ, allergen and bacteria counts by 99 percent after about one second of exposure. Because it is handheld, however, the CleanWave can be used to sanitize devices that are much larger than smartphones, including tablets, monitors and keyboards.

Price: $90.

Website: www.verilux.com.

ZAGG SCREEN PROTECTOR

Description: Besides offering a money-back guarantee against scratches to your screen, ZAGG's maximum coverage invisibleSHIELD line encases the entire device, front and back, in a scratch-resistant film. This allows it to be sanitized using more conventional cleaning methods, so long as they are non-alcohol based.

Price: $25-$45, depending on model/size. ZAGG also sells antimicrobial foam (ZAGGfoam, $10) and wipes (ZAGGwipes, $5).

Website: www.zagg.com.

MONSTER CLEANTOUCH

Description: Spray an alcohol- and ammonia-free solution on a microfiber cloth (included) and wipe down your device to safely remove dust, smudges and germs without harming the touchscreens. Monster's AEGIS agent also leaves behind an antimicrobial coating to kill and prevent the return of harmful microbes.

Price: $20, includes carrying pouch, 20 milliliter bottle of solution and microfiber cloth.

Website: www.monstercable.com.

CELLBLASTER UV CELL PHONE SANITIZER

Description: Place your smartphone, ear buds, bluetooth earpiece or other device in the interior compartment and close the lid. After a 30-second bath in germicidal ultraviolet light, up to 99 percent of harmful bacteria such as strep, E. coli, salmonella, listeria and H1N1 (swine flu) will have been eliminated. Similar sanitizers are available, but the CellBlaster includes a built-in charger, is much faster and fits almost all phone models, including flip phones.

Price: $100.

Website: www.cellblaster.net.

CYBER CLEAN ELECTRONICS CLEANING PUTTY

Description: Knead this biodegradable cleaning and disinfectant compound for a few seconds, mold it your electronic device and peel away to remove dirt, germs and smudges in places a cleaning cloth could never reach. Like the Silly Putty it resembles, the compound can be stored and reused later.

Price: $10 for a 4.7-ounce resealable tub.

Website: www.cyberclean.net.

VERILUX CLEANWAVE SANITIZING WAND

Description: Like the CellBlaster, the CleanWave uses ultraviolet light to eliminate germs and has been proven in laboratories to reduce germ, allergen and bacteria counts by 99 percent after about one second of exposure. Because it is handheld, however, the CleanWave can be used to sanitize devices that are much larger than smartphones, including tablets, monitors and keyboards.

Price: $90.

Website: www.verilux.com.

ZAGG SCREEN PROTECTOR

Description: Besides offering a money-back guarantee against scratches to your screen, ZAGG's maximum coverage invisibleSHIELD line encases the entire device, front and back, in a scratch-resistant film. This allows it to be sanitized using more conventional cleaning methods, so long as they are non-alcohol based.

Price: $25-$45, depending on model/size. ZAGG also sells antimicrobial foam (ZAGGfoam, $10) and wipes (ZAGGwipes, $5).

Website: www.zagg.com.

When it comes to sickness being passed around the office, the offending party may be in a pocket, not a neighboring cubicle.

In the last several years, touch screen-equipped smartphones and tablets have become an indispensable part of modern life. Because they are constantly being touched, held close to mouths and stored in warm pockets, however, bacteria love these devices as much as the people who use them.

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department spokesperson Abena Williams recommends that those who are concerned about spreading germs abide by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. In an article about preventing the spread of the flu, the CDC recommends routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are touched often, including electronic items such as smartphones, tablets and keyboards.

According to an October survey by the Pew Research Center, half of adult Americans own cellphones, and although smartphones have become one of the most-handled devices in daily life, they are rarely cleaned.

Research by Dr. Chuck Gerba, a virology specialist and University of Arizona professor of microbiology, has shown that mobile phones can carry up to 10 times as many bacteria as the average toilet. As a result, these devices, which often are shared between people, pose a significant transmission risk.

Clearly, a good cleaning is in order, but many ammonia- and alcohol-based household cleaning products can damage a screen and remove its anti-glare coating. So what's a gadget-loving germaphobe to do?

Regularly washing your hands is always the best line of defense, Williams says, but there are a range of products available that have been designed to sanitize smart tech without damaging it.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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