Phone sanitizer manufacturers claim that our smartphones’ surfaces are infested with bacteria. They are like a Petri dish, a hotbed for germs and viruses! Are those claims true and what should be done about them? Will the wet wipes be helpful or should you delegate the job of cleaning to modern technologies? In this review, we will cover types of cell phone sanitizers available on the modern market, will rank their effectiveness and pick the top five gadgets.
We’ll reveal the whole truth about such famous manufacturers, as Phonesoap, the brand that compares the dirtiness of cell phones to that of the rim of the toilet bowl. We’ll get down to the tiniest detail and investigate whether their devices are as effective as promoted? Let’s get started!
Scientific Opinion on the Necessity of a Phone Sanitizer
Nowadays neither kids or adults ever let go of their cell phones. We use this gadget anywhere and everywhere: in a park, in transit, in hospitals, in the bathroom or in a cafe. While we tend to wash our hands regularly, the same is not true for washing our phones. You can’t wash it, and it’s not quite obvious how to clean it. That’s how the entire germ army migrates to your phone screen from your dirty hands and then, once you bring the phone close to your ear, they get transferred to your face. The warm and slightly humid surface of the gadget is favorable for increasing the germ population.
Why is this is so perilous even though myriads of bacteria are everywhere? The thing is that our body becomes vulnerable to viruses once they get inside our body through our nose, mouth or eyes. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services warns that there is a high chance of catching flu if you touch your face with dirty hands. The cleaner your hands are, the less chance you have of getting your respiratory organs infected or becoming sick with diarrhea. Since such dangerous causative agents as Staphylococcus aureus can inhabit your phone’s surface, the researchers even recommend that doctors restrict the use of cell phones in medical institutions. Phones should be cleaned so they don’t become a source of pathogenic bacteria.
How Does a Cell Phone Sanitizer Work?
Most sanitizers use ultraviolet to combat germs. A UV phone cleaner starts working either automatically or after you press a button that sets off disinfection. A small UV lamp inside the device affects and destroys the bacteria’s DNA. The lamp turns off 5-6 minutes later, and you can remove your phone from the device. Some products charge the phone simultaneously with UV treatment. It’s crucial to follow the user’s guide when it comes to sanitizing devices as they emit special radiation (the wavelength is 253 nm) that cannot be used to dry nail polish or to tan as they will cause a burn!
UV lamps of various power are used to clean water and have proven their effectiveness at the industrial level. However, it is much harder to attest to the quality of portable sanitizers. In general, ultraviolet is supposed to kill germs, but does a particular gadget work properly or is the invisible cleaning a simple illusion?
Journalists have attempted to answer this question multiple times. The FOX Carolina team, for instance, has conducted an experiment in St Francis' Hospital when the doctors treated various objects with a UV sanitizer and then compared the contamination levels before and after cleaning with the help of a special luminometer. It turned out that the sanitizing wand is not at all almighty as it only reduced the level of cell phone bacteria from 432 to 400. Antiseptic wipes, on the other hand, reduced this number to 4. Pat Kopp, a lab employee, explained that mechanical cleaning is required before using a sanitizer that will remove the remaining germs. Despite its disinfecting properties, ultraviolet is only a supplement.
Another experiment conducted by Dr. Jay Comeaux of McNeese State University located in Lake Charles proved the effectiveness of the Portable Sanitizing Wand against three types of pathogenic bacteria. However, it turned out that the sanitizer must be held as close as possible to an object to be cleaned for at least ten seconds for best results. Moreover, the treated surface must be completely flat as any niches, buttons or ports affect the quality of disinfection.
What conclusions come to mind after this? Undoubtedly, a Portable Sanitizing Wand is only suitable for patient users. If you don’t want to hold your device for a while, opt for a closed sterilizer that will automatically sanitize your phone and turn off afterwards. Make sure you’re buying a real UV lamp, and not just a blue bulb. A very low price will signify the latter.
What Are Ozonators and What is So Bad About Them?
Some manufacturers are cunning enough to sell ozonators as UV phone sanitizers. The blue lamp inside these devices simply mimic UV radiation. Just like real UV sanitizers, the treatment is about five minutes long, and lasts while the lamp is on. However, it is ozone and not ultraviolet that does the cleaning job. What’s so bad about it? Well, highly concentrated ozone is extremely poisonous, and low concentrated substance is useless against bacteria and viruses. The United States Environmental Protection Agency warns: “Some data suggest that low levels of ozone may reduce airborne concentrations and inhibit the growth of some biological organisms while ozone is present, but ozone concentrations would have to be 5 - 10 times higher than public health standards allow before the ozone could decontaminate the air sufficiently to prevent survival and regeneration of the organisms once the ozone is removed” (Dyas, et al.,1983; Foarde et al., 1997).
In fact, the EPA warns us not to use ozone-generating devices as their effectiveness and safety cannot be guaranteed. This toxic gas is harmful for eyes, skin and respiratory organs. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires ozone output of indoor medical devices to be no more than 0.05 ppm. It is unknown whether all brands comply with this requirement, so if you are looking for a cheap way to clean your phone, you’d better use a wet wipe rather than an ozonator.
Тhe Top Five Phone Sanitizers From $23 To $60
There are two main types of UV phone cleaners: closed gadgets with a lid and portable sanitizing wands. There are also ozonators, i.e. devices that use ozone to remove bacteria. In this article, we will review all these sanitizer types starting from the most popular and expensive device.
PhoneSoap 3 UV Cell Phone Sanitizer and Dual Universal Cell Phone Charger
This Salt Lake City brand is the most famous manufacturer reviewed. PhoneSoap’s story began in 2016 when it first appeared on Shark Tank. Lori Greiner gave a green light to this start-up and invested $100,000 in it. As a result, the business is still up and running in today’s market.
One thing PhoneSoap is definitely good at is marketing. You can’t help but be frightened when you hear their slogan stating that a cell phone’s surface contains 18x as many bacteria as a public washroom. This can be argued, but not forgotten! Don’t you immediately want to clean your phone with wipes, at least? Another slogan of this brand, “Be healthy with PhoneSoap” also beats the bull’s eye. We understand that this is not an entertaining but a useful gadget that is as irreplaceable as an antibacterial soap.
Is there any proof of its effectiveness, though? The official website of the brand mentions “lab test results” but cites no reference to any research. An expert wearing white scrubs can be seen in the presentation (which is staggering; it even compares shoe sole smears to a cell phone screen), but neither his name nor the name of his lab are mentioned. Who knows, this may be a breakthrough scientist from Salt Lake City or it might as well be an actor. PhoneSoap brags of mentions in Forbes or on CNN, but all these mentions resort to short articles about the venture’s success in Shark Tank. In general, all cell phone sanitizer manufacturers claim to kill 99% of germs and give the same arguments for using their products.
Let’s get back to the PhoneSoap review. Its design is definitely its unique selling point. Its exterior is pleasant and usable and resembles a smart phone case (especially targeted at iPhones). Its design is very straightforward: there is an UV lamp and a charging port inside. The latest version also features a port for a second device. After you’ve put your phone in the case and cleaned it for 5-6 minutes, you can charge the battery or use the gadget as a portable power bank. By the way, any other objects of suitable size (credit cards, keys or smartwatches) can also be sanitized inside the device. As for the model range, there are XL sanitizers for tablets, two smartphone cleaners (different in size and color) and a wireless PhoneSoap. We are most interested in the classic PhoneSoap: a 6.8x3.74x0.78-inch case weighing two pounds.
Let us note that although this is the most expensive sanitizer covered, it’s not a very durable item. Customers complain that the lamps are not removable, which means that if a lamp breaks down, you’ll have to replace the entire device.
Finally, we have some good news. This is a known American brand, rather than a no-name. The manufacturers have an interesting blog (where they provide statistics on how often users drop their phone in a toilet or other trivia), answer consumers’ questions and even do charity work. This gives a competitive edge to PhoneSoap, as this must be the phone sanitizer brand with the best communication. Naturally, this improves its level of trustworthiness.
Price: ~ $59.95 Check the current price
Verilux CleanWave Portable Sanitizing Travel Wand
Verilux sanitizer is known since it was featured in The New York Times review in 2011. It successfully passed all the tests which were conducted on kitchen utensils instead of smart phones. Charles Gerba (an environmental microbiologist at the University of Arizona), an expert invited by the New York Times, claimed that cutting boards require more disinfection than cell phones. According to him, UV sanitizers are quite effective on flat non-porous surfaces (such as cutting boards). However, Farhad Manjoo, a journalist found a defect in the gadget: the lamp only works when it’s inclined down and it shuts off automatically if you put it up or sideways. This is caused by a built-in protection system that blocks the lamp when its position is anything but horizontal. For that reason, it is impossible to disinfect armchair rests or door handles, although the manufacturer promotes this kind of use.
Judging by the Amazon reviews, the gadget’s design has not undergone any changes ever since this review was published seven years ago. The lamp still shuts off when you turn it even slightly, but this might be for the best: there is no chance you could ever burn yourself. Verilux, in general, cares about customers’ health. For instance, this brand has been manufacturing light therapy equipment since 1956.
Price: ~ $44.98 Check the current price
GERMISE UV LIGHT SMARTPHONE SANITIZER
Although unlike Verilux this sanitizer barely has any Amazon reviews, it is $6 cheaper and lighter (4 ounces vs competing 7.2 ounces).
Judging by the description, this device enhances everything it touches, just like a magic wand. It is even capable of sanitizing objects 8 inches away! It is light enough for your hand not to get tired. Having enough patience to hold it is another matter. The manufacturer assures that three seconds will be enough, but all stationary devices take at least 5-6 minutes to sanitize a phone. Does this magic wand indeed kill germs faster? Unfortunately, you’ll never be able to find out in domestic use without conducting special tests.
Nevertheless, GERMISE has run its own lab research confirming the effectiveness of even a one-second long disinfection. Its UV wavelength is 253 nm, which is standard for bactericidal lamps. One of their advantages is that they do not emit ozone.
It’s important that the device (~ $38.99) is equipped with a hold button that will be handy if a child plays with the wand. Moreover, the automatic lamp will turn off if pointed upwards. However, there is still too little customer feedback to judge its protection quality. Open UV lamps are potentially more dangerous than closed ones.
Even though the manufacturer recommends sanitizing everything from your phone to shoe insoles, you should be careful when using this gadget. UV waves are effective against germs but are dangerous for eyes and skin.
Price: ~ $38.99 Check the current price
Portable UV Cell Phone Sanitizer with USB Charger – UV Light Disinfection for iPhone Plus Toothbrush Watches Jewelry
Finally, here before us is a closed UV sanitizer that does not promise to clean everything around with its magic light, but offers extraordinary possibilities. While you look like a maniac when using a Sanitizing Wand in public, this small box won’t give you away as it looks like a regular cell phone accessory. You will be able to put your phone in it without drawing any extra attention.
Disinfection takes six minutes and seems more reliable than the two or three second sanitizing offered by other brands. However, there are some buts. Some users claim that the UV light does not cover the entire surface of the phone. The light is emitted only from two sides of a rectangular case, so only the top and bottom of your phone can be reached. True germophobes will have to use wipes to disinfect their screen.
Inside the box, you will find not only this lamp, but also an aroma oil diffuser. This feature improves the product’s competitiveness against its rivals. If you pick a pink or a blue device, you will even be able to give it as a gift to someone who is very conscious about hygiene.
Price: ~ $32.99 Check the current price
Phone Ozone Sterilizer | LEDMEI
LEDMEI offers all kinds of lamps. The company’s model range includes salt night lights, UV diodes for house plants and fire-like lamps. This phone sanitizer is not a UV lamp though, but an ozonator.
You might be confused with the gadget’s design as it works just like any other UV sanitizer: you need to plug it in and press the button. The lamp will turn off automatically after six minutes once the disinfection is over. The official description claims that the device kills 99% of bacteria, but it gives no details on how the actual sanitizing is performed. Additional effort is required to find this out. One of the Amazon users asked: “How does this sterilize and sanitize my phone? There's no mention of UV o a light” Here is LEDMEI’s reply: “Hello, you must connect the power supply. Connect the power, press the O3 Sanitizer button. When the blue light is on, the sanitizer is working. The sterilizer will release ozone to disinfect your phone.” The manufacturer claims that your phone will be almost sterile when you remove it from the device six minutes later. Is the ozone concentration sufficient for such results? The sterilizer claims to generate 3 mg of ozone per hour. It looks like a special study is required to calculate the concentration of this gas in a 6.3 x 3.2 inch flask for six minutes of action. Otherwise, it is difficult to assess its effectiveness. The manufacturer has received a positive review of a Chinese microbiology center, and it is up to you to decide whether it is a reliable document.
Price: ~ $23.99 Check the current price
TOP-5 Best Phone Sanitizers
A UV-lamp and USB phone charger case powered by an electric outlet.
A universal UV sanitizer (wand) without a USB port, powered by four AA batteries.
A universal UV sanitizer (wand) with a bactericidal UV lamp charged through USB or powered by four AAA batteries.
Portable UV Cell Phone Sanitizer
A closed box-like UV sanitizer with an aroma oil diffuser inside, charged via USB.
Ozone Sterilizer LEDMEI
A round sanitizer with a lid and a UV lamp. The ozonator is charged via USB.
Cell Phone Sanitizer FAQ
How do I know whether a sanitizer kills bacteria?
You can’t check it without lab tests. A pro luminometer used to assess the level of contamination is much more expensive than a sanitizer. That’s why you should find a decent brand, trust its own research and follow the user’s guide.
Are ozone level detection strips capable of proving the effectiveness of a UV sanitizer?
Ultraviolet generates ozone, that’s why some users try to measure its concentration and thus, find out whether a UV lamp is effective. Special strips are available on Amazon to detect ozone concentration over 90 micrograms per meter cube (0.0451 ppm). Sanitizing lamps are way below these figures.
Is it better to wipe your phone with alcohol or buy a sanitizer?
That is up to you. In any case, even if you invest in a sanitizer, you will have to use wipes regularly because mechanical cleaning cannot be completely replaced by a gadget.
Are UV waves harmful for your phone’s screen?
They are not. Many Amazon customers are worried about this when it comes to buying a closed UV phone sanitizer. So far, no such cases have been registered.
About author: Wiki is the full-time author of Gadgets|Reviews and a walking encyclopedia. She has long worked as a marketer for large and renowned brands, so she knows all the tricks used to deceive and convince clients to buy useless goods. She is cynical, doesn’t take anyone’s word and is ruthless to those whose ads are misleading. She is fierce but impersonal. Should you be a decent and conscientious manufacturer, she will recommend your products to millions of our readers. Each review of useful gadgets that she composes is preceded by a full-scale investigation engaging scientists, proven facts and research. She will explain in detail whether you should trust innovations, how to use them properly, whether they are effective, and what results are expected.