They say that your cell phone is filthier than a toilet seat.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Now think about all the other frequently touched items that you carry around every day: your keys, your watch, credit cards, glasses, and even your mask. You probably clean those items even less than your phone!
We are living in a world where we wash our hands more in one day than we ever have before. We cover our faces, maintain social distance, and clean high-touch objects and surfaces. UV-C light has emerged as another layer in our routine, to defend ourselves against the germs that seek to do us harm. Devices that use UV-C light have become increasingly popular this year, leading to an explosion in demand.
Zap Da Buggah!
PhoneSoap was one of the first of its kind for cleaning cellphones. It emerged several years ago. I’ve owned a PhoneSoap to clean my iPhone (and other small items) since the start of the pandemic. I enjoyed the convenience of zapping my stuff clean. So I immediately picked up the HomeSoap for larger items: my iPad, my cameras that use interchangeable lenses, books, remote controls, and some of my son’s toys.
The demand for this technology has grown to the point where other companies have launched their line of UV devices as well. When the pandemic began, these products quickly sold out and were often on backorder. In Hawaii there’s a local company, Travel Products Hawaii, that distributes Travelon’s brand line of UV-C products. What makes this line different is that they have a built-in aromatherapy feature. For local customers not familiar with such products, having a local distributor in town makes it easy to inspect and purchase at one of their many pop-up events.
What Does UV Radiation Do to Germs?
Fun fact for all you armchair epidemiologists. UV-C lamps have been around for a long time. Decades ago, the fight against tuberculosis bacteria included the use of UV light. Regarding how it works against modern viruses, the UV-C radiation destroys the outer protein envelope that coats the organisms. This lipid layer is sensitive to heat and detergents. For this reason, washing your hands with soap and water is also highly effective in killing germs.
But Does It Really Work?
The biggest question I get when it comes to UV-C light is, “Does it work?” The short answer is that the technology itself is still being used by hospitals, transportation companies, and other industries today, to sanitize their equipment and their work environments. Tests have been conducted over the years to demonstrate the effectiveness of UV-C light against bacteria and viruses.
But let’s cut to the chase. What people really want to know is, does UV-C kill COVID-19?
When it comes specifically to the novel coronavirus, the answer to that question is not as straightforward. PhoneSoap, the leading manufacturer, claims that their UV-C products disinfect 99.99% of harmful bacteria and viruses that include: E Coli, salmonella, staph, MRSA, H1N1 (flu), and the common cold. The company admits that it has not yet tested its product on COVID-19 (which is the case with every other manufacturer). PhoneSoap does state that their UV-C light products can kill the H1N1 virus (aka influenza A) at a 99.99% reduction rate. The reason why this is important is that the coronavirus and H1N1 are both enveloped viruses. That means that if UV-C can destroy the lipid envelope for H1N1, it should do the same for COVID-19.
The FDA states that UV-C light may be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV 2 virus, which causes coronavirus. So as a consumer, it is up to you to decide if UV-C light is right for you, given the available information.
There’s No Magic Bullet
Until an effective and safe vaccine is found, it will take several tactics to keep ourselves and our families as safe as possible from the coronavirus and other harmful germs. Incorporating the use of UV-C sanitizing devices into our daily routine provides an added layer of protection. And while UV may kill germs with UV light, you may still want to give your stuff a quick wipe-down, just to remove any dirt, oil and grime.
Remember that we still have a way to go with this pandemic. There is no single magic bullet. Nothing can replace wearing masks, washing our hands, and clean high touch surfaces and objects to stay healthy.
If you’re looking for an extra layer of protection, or just UV curious, give one of these UV-C sanitizers a try!