Spacious interior. Evenly kills bacteria on all surfaces of your device. Convenient manual and automatic cleaning modes. Available in 5 stylish colors.
Pricier than most models.
Affordable and durable, yet soft. Individually wrapped wipes. Portable. Efficiently removes residue. Optimized for sanitizing handheld devices. Gentle on screens.
Not an antibacterial cleaner.
Featherweight. Slim. Portable. Kills 99.9% of bacteria. Sanitizes smartphone in just 60 seconds. Rechargeable battery. Up to 70 uses per charge. Available in black, red, and violet.
Users must flip the phone after 30 seconds to fully sanitize it.
Wirelessly charges devices. Lightning-fast charger. Kills 99% of bacteria in 10 minutes. Automatically stops when door is opened. Roomy interior. Sleek design.
Only available in white.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Your smartphone is a bacteria magnet. You carry it everywhere, exposing it to hordes of germs. The heat radiating from the battery also makes it the perfect breeding ground for microorganisms. If you often take your phone into the bathroom, use public transit, or stuff your phone in your clothes while you work out, your phone gets dirty. But it’s an expensive piece of technology, and you can’t immerse it in water. So what’s a smartphone user to do?
Luckily, there are several different sanitizing products – both high tech and non-tech – available to address this issue. They not only clean your phone but they can help remove fingerprints and smudges, too.
Having a smartphone sanitizer is a necessity for any smartphone user looking to improve their phone-related hygiene, and we’ve compiled this shopping guide to help you find the right one for you. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top recommendations, too.
If you’re still wondering if you need a smartphone sanitizer, here is some information on how the technology works, along with some essential considerations to think about as you shop.
How does a smartphone sanitizer work?
Ultraviolet light is the most common technology used in smartphone sanitizers. UV light kills bacteria by destroying the DNA and preventing the microorganisms from multiplying. There are three types of UV light; the kind used by smartphone sanitizers is UV-C, with a wavelength of 253 nanometers (nm).
Types of smartphone sanitizers
Here are the three main types of sanitizers you’ll encounter while shopping:
Encased UV sanitizers: These have a closed case that’s designed to fit your phone and keep it protected while it’s being cleaned. Encased sanitizers use UV light to kill bacteria.
UV wand sanitizers: These handheld sanitizers also utilize UV light. You wave the wand over your smartphone to kill germs. The downside to wands is that you must hold them. Sanitizing typically requires at least five minutes to be effective, so holding a wand for that long isn’t very comfortable.
Power source: Most smartphone sanitizer cases require an outlet, but many also include a rechargeable battery for portability. Wands are usually battery powered, while wipes, obviously, need no power source.
Versatility: See if you can use the sanitizer to clean other devices besides your smartphone or if it will hold more than one phone at a time. Some sanitizers double as a power bank to recharge your phone. Take stock of your devices and decide if you want a sanitizer that works for multiple gadgets.
Size: Sanitizers range in size from small enough for one phone to large enough to fit a tablet. If you want to tote your sanitizer around, choose a unit that isn’t too heavy.
Cleaning time: A minimum of five minutes is usually required for effective sanitization, but many models suggest a cleaning period of at least ten minutes. If you’re strapped for time, you might prefer to use wipes.
Compatibility: Will your extra-large smartphone fit inside the sanitizer case? If you have a unique phone that isn’t compatible with sanitizer cases, choose a sanitizer wand instead. Also check to see if the UV light reaches all areas of your phone or you need to flip your phone over to clean the other side.
Durability: If you can’t replace the UV bulb when it burns out, you’ll need to purchase a whole new sanitizer. Models with replaceable parts are more cost effective in the long run.
Charging: Some devices have one or more USB ports for charging your smartphone while it’s being cleaned. You can even use certain smaller sanitizers as power packs on the go.
Reflective coating: To make sure the UV light reaches all the nooks and crannies of your phone, look for a sanitizer with reflective interior surfaces.
Aromatherapy: Some sanitizers include an oil diffuser. It doesn’t enhance the cleaning power of the device, but makes your phone smell nice!
Auto shutoff: You’ll often find this feature in wand sanitizers. If you hold the wand upright, it will automatically shut off to prevent you from directing UV light at you or someone else. Some encased sanitizers allow you to select the length of the cleaning cycle time, after which the UV light automatically turns off.
For less than $20, you can find disinfecting wipes designed for electronic devices.
Between $20 and $40, you’ll find encased UV sanitizers with room for most standard smartphones. Expect to find features such as one or more USB ports for charging, too. Wand sanitizers are also available at this price point.
If you spend more than $40, you’ll find UV sanitizers capable of fitting larger devices and with features such as aromatherapy or reflective surfaces for more effective cleaning.
Don’t use soap or water to clean your phone. You could damage it irreparably.
Use your sanitizer to clean other things. Kitchen utensils and earbuds can benefit from sanitizing, too.
Don’t ever point a UV wand at your or anyone’s face. The light is harmful to the skin and eyes.
Use wipes in conjunction with a UV sanitizer. This will help make sure you get rid of as many bacteria as possible.
Close the sanitizer before turning it on. If you’re using a sanitizer with a reflective interior, close it before turning on the UV light to avoid harming your eyes.
Finding a device to thoroughly sanitize your phone isn’t easy, so we want to provide you with a few more of our favorites. The CamKix 2-in-1 Screen Cleaning Spray is an ultra-portable option for smartphone or tablet. It’s a super-cheap low-tech alternative for when there’s no outlet available. The LIOKEN UV-C Cell Phone Sterilizer is a stylish cleaning accessory for your phone that features wireless charging support and aromatherapy. The MEDca Premoistened Lens and Glass Cleaning Wipes are another no-tech option. They’re inexpensive and gentle enough for use on screens. Finally, we love the durable SKT Productions iRoller because it’s not just capable of sanitizing your smartphone or tablet, it also removes smudges and fingerprints so your screen appears clean, too.
Q. How can I verify claims like “kills 99.9% of bacteria”?
A. The UV light used in portable sanitizing products is not capable of killing all the bacteria on your device. You’ll likely require a combination of a UV sanitizer and tech-safe wipes to get the job done. To improve the cleaning results of your portable UV device, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and leave your phone in long enough for the UV light to work. Don’t be fooled by products that mimic the bluish appearance of UV light. If the device is so cheap that it’s too good to be true, you’re likely not getting an effective phone sanitizer. Browse products that cite specific research, and do your homework before making your final choice. Unfortunately, there’s no way to perform at-home tests to validate the effectiveness of smartphone sanitizers.
Q. How long does a UV sanitizer last? Will the UV light become less effective over time?
A. You might need to replace the UV bulb if it burns out. Choose a product whose bulb can be replaced or you’ll need to purchase a whole new sanitizer when the bulb goes kaput.
Q. Are sanitizers safe to use? Will this technology damage my phone in any way?
A. The UV light in a sanitizer isn’t on long enough to damage your phone. Don’t use this device to sanitize your hands or other body parts. The light can burn the skin.
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