The One Thing You Need to Clean Before Seeing Family This Holiday Season

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As we're heading into one of the most social seasons of the year, it's time to start thinking about precautions you might want to take if you're visiting a more vulnerable person when it comes to health — say, a newborn baby. While you're probably an expert at washing your hands and wearing a mask, you might be overlooking one crucial element in your sanitizing process: your cell phone.

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A recent study published in ‌Neonatology Today‌ dives into how important it is to clean your cell phone before entering the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where bacteria from the phone's surface could be dangerous to babies.

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According to the study, which implemented a phone-cleaning education program and sanitation procedure for visitors and guests to a NICU in Utah, "bacterial load and pathogenic organisms were significantly reduced on cleaned cell phones. A comprehensive cell phone cleaning program may reduce infectious exposure to NICU patients."

While many people probably won't be spending too much time in a NICU, there's a significant portion of the population who will visit with babies or immunocompromised individuals over the holiday season. It stands to reason that in any case, you should be sanitizing your cell phone before such visits. (And, truthfully, it's probably a good idea to get into the habit of daily phone cleaning anyway.)

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The simplest way to disinfect your phone is to wipe it down with a damp cloth and a tiny bit of soap. Most cell phones are waterproof these days, but check to ensure your specific model is before putting water on it.

You can also use sanitizing wipes, but the Federal Communications Commission notes that some ingredients like bleach can wear down components of the phone. Apple suggests using a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe, a 75% ethyl alcohol wipe, or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, and avoiding products containing bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

When gathering around the people you care about most this holiday season, you can never be too careful.

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