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Tips for the Sanitization of Devices in Schools

Most of us understand the power of hand washing to prevent the spread of germs. Because people frequently touch their eyes, nose and mouth without realizing it, keeping your hands clean can keep you healthy. But not everyone thinks about how touching cell phones and other electronic devices contaminates our hands before we reach up to scratch our noses.

Typical mobile phone users touch their phone 2,617 times every day. And that’s just the average! 10% of phone users touch their phones twice as much.[i] In its Guidance for Schools and Child Care Programs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that surfaces that are frequently touched should be cleaned and disinfected, especially classroom laptops and tablets. We think everyone would agree that thousands of times per day is frequent. 

Through routine sanitization practices, the potential threat posed by contaminated devices can be significantly reduced. Read on to learn about the differences between cleaning and sanitizing along with effective sanitization methods. Hopefully, with these helpful tips, the sanitization of devices in schools will become as widespread as soaping up your hands while singing Happy Birthday.

What’s the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing?

The CDC provides the following guidance on the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting:

  • Cleaning removes germs from surfaces or objects by using soap or detergent and water to physically remove germs.
  • Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects by using chemicals.
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements.[ii]
Why is sanitizing and disinfecting cellphones and smart devices important?

Did you know a cell phone has 18x more bacteria than a public restroom? Streptococcus, MRSA and E. coli have all been found lurking on devices. Nonporous surfaces like smartphone screens can also make it a perfect environment for the coronavirus. Studies show that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours up to several days.[iii] School bathrooms are cleaned frequently, so should school devices. With proper sanitization methods, you’re lowering germs on a surface, which can reduce the risk of spreading germs.

What are the best methods for sanitization?

As our friends at Firefly Computers say, “You can’t just drench a computer in Lysol®.” Care has to be taken to avoid getting moisture on charging ports or other openings and damaging screen, keys, and internal components. There’s also more to keeping your school devices clean than just wiping them down with a microfiber cloth. Here are three of the best methods for sanitization.

1. Isopropyl Alcohol Wipes

Apple® recommends the following sanitization method. “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.” Google confirms that it’s okay to use isopropyl alcohol wipes on their devices as well.[iv] Regardless of the type of device, always power it down first.

2. 5 Steps to Clean Sanitize Classroom Laptops

Firefly Computers’ repair experts recommend first powering off the device and removing accessories or plug-ins. Then clean the screen with an LCD-safe solution applied to a microfiber cloth. Use 70% isopropyl alcohol applied to a soft cotton rag to wipe down the keyboard and external chassis. Lastly, wait for the alcohol solution to evaporate before turning the laptop back on. Check out this helpful article for step-by-step instructions.

Take care of yourself and put together a back to school safety plan. Keep washing those hands and sanitizing those devices, and let us know if we can help keep the germs at bay in your school or classroom.

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Back To School Educational Technology Tips & Advice

What will schools look like a year from now? Or even next week? It's hard to keep track of technology solutions for your school. Get all the latest educational technology tips and advice for districts and educators here.


[i] Here's how many times we touch our phones every day – Business Insider

[ii] How to Clean and Disinfect Schools to Help Slow the Spread of Flu – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[iii] Study suggests new coronavirus may remain on surfaces for days – National Institutes of Health

[iv] How to Sanitize Your Smartphone – Consumer Reports

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