When cleaning isn’t enough, do you know how to safely, and effectively disinfect your hand-held devices?
Studies find that a virus may be able to survive for up to nine days on surfaces,1 including the digital devices you touch continuously. From your hands to your face, contaminants get a free ride to your eyes, nose, and mouth. Even healthcare workers may not realize that laptops, smartphones, and other handheld devices need to be disinfected just like other hospital equipment. And, yes, they can be cleaned safely!
It’s a good idea to check the cleaning and disinfecting directions provided by the manufacturer of your specific device. But, there are some generally accepted cleaning habits worth forming to keep contaminants at bay.
Why Clean Your Devices? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) can affect up to one in 25 hospitalized patients in the U.S., resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of lives and costing the healthcare system billions of dollars.2 A growing body of literature shows the rate of bacterial contamination of health care workers’ mobile devices ranges from 40% to nearly 100%. Yet a whopping 90% of patient-facing care providers never clean their mobile phones.3
The good news is it doesn’t take much to reduce all this contamination. Prevention practices can reduce HAIs by as much as 70%.2 One study reported cutting bacterial contamination in half using 70% isopropyl alcohol and 15 seconds of friction.4
Five Steps to Cleaning and Disinfection
Use a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth for all steps. No paper towels!
1. WASH HANDS AND DISCONNECT
Scrub hands for 20 seconds. Unplug power cords and shut down device or use software like Quick Clean application.
2. REMOVE DEBRIS
Gently invert device or use compressed air. Remove fingerprints and residue.
3. APPLY AGENT TO CLOTH
Apply cleaning agent to cloth (not onto device) and wring out. Or use a premoistened chlorine-free wipe.
Wipe all surfaces and let agent set for the time required on label.
5. WIPE OFF AND DRY
Remove any liquid and residue. Allow to dry completely before closing or using device.
External keyboards and mice, cords, earbuds, and headsets can all be disinfected using the same steps. Make sure mouse trackballs are free from cleaner and cords are dry before stowing.
Cleaning Agents: Yes and Never
The best disinfecting agent is isopropyl alcohol (60% - 70%). Never chlorine or bleach! Caution: More is not better! Never use straight rubbing alcohol that can strip the coatings that keep oil and water from damaging your device display and other ports.
When Should You Disinfect?
Ideally, disinfect handheld devices before and after every patient encounter that involves contact, and before and after your shift. It’s also a great idea to wipe down your ID badge, keys, even jewelry, before you go home. And speaking of home, don’t forget the devices you keep there.
Universal precautions are already part of your work routine. Adding device disinfection to the mix provides greater protection for you, your patients, and your coworkers.
Just as data protection and device maintenance should be a regular part of the hospital day, so should putting these simple safety steps into regular practice.
Print the Disinfect Your Devices poster!
To help spread the word about proper device disinfection, download our handy device eBook and print-ready poster. The poster can be printed on legal-sized paper and hung up as a great reminder to disinfect hand-held devices regularly.