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Among the many byproducts of the pandemic is a heightened sense of cleanliness. Once harmless doorknobs and elevator buttons now seem to be breeding grounds for bacteria. And phones? Every swipe may as well mean festering in millions of germs. When it comes to reducing the spread of coronavirus, face masks and the COVID-19 vaccine remain the most effective methods of protection. But UV light sanitization — which has been employed in the last year everywhere from high-end hair salons and hotels to movie theaters and film sets — is worth adding to a cleaning routine.
Can UV Sanitizers Kill the Coronavirus?
The FDA explains that ultraviolet lamps are already known to be effective in killing germs, including bacteria and viruses, on surfaces. Specifically, UVC radiation “may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” according to a recent study published by the American Journal of Infection Control, assuming there’s direct exposure that’s not blocked by soil, dust, bodily fluids (such as sweat), and other contaminants.
The agency also points out that many UVC lamps designed for home use have a lower dose of light, so longer exposure may be needed to effectively disinfect surfaces.
UVA, UVB, and UVC: What’s the Difference?
It’s worth noting the differences between UVA, UVB and UVC rays. The FDA says that while UVA radiation is less hazardous than UVB radiation, it’s also the least effective of the three at inactivating some viruses and is also associated with skin damage and cancer risks. UVB radiation should also be avoided because it can “penetrate deeper into the skin and eye [and] is known to cause DNA damage,” per the agency.
UVC radiation doesn’t come without risks, either. As with UVA and UVB rays, you should always avoid touching and looking directly into UVC light to avoid any skin or eye damage. According to the FDA, some UVC lamps may generate ozone (which can irritate airways) or contain mercury. If your UVC LED lamp becomes damaged or breaks, you’ll need to dispose of it immediately to avoid exposure to the toxin.
Though more studies need to be done, UV sanitizers that use UVC lamps (often referred to as “germicidal” lights) appear to be the most promising in inactivating the coronavirus for now.
What Are the Best UV Sanitizers?
If you’re looking to add an extra layer of protection, we’ve rounded up some of the top UV sanitizers that can clean your smartphone, keys, water, and more — see our picks below.
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.
1. PhoneSoap HomeSoap
PhoneSoap’s HomeSoap sanitizer is a great option for disinfecting the surfaces of larger items such as tablets, keys, wallets, toys, baby bottles, and more. The unit is equipped with UVC lights that the company says remove 99.99% of germs in about 10 minutes, and it has built-in USB ports so you can charge two devices. We like that the newly-added on and off switch allows you to choose between manual or automatic modes. The interior measures 93 millimeters wide by 234.6 millimeters tall by 334.7 millimeters long, so it’s roomy enough to fit an Apple iPad Pro, a Nintendo Switch, and other gadgets.
If you’re looking for travel-friendly options, the company’s PhoneSoap Pro ($120) is also worth considering.
2. HomeMedics UV Clean Sanitizer Bag
HomeMedics says its portable UVC LED light carryall kills “99.9% of bacteria and viruses at the DNA level ten times faster than any other sanitizer.” This secure zippered bag uses four mercury-free lights to disinfect items in one minute, and it has the capacity to fit phones, sunglasses, keys, makeup brushes, remote controls, toothbrushes, and other belongings. The travel-friendly unit measures 4.1 inches tall by three inches deep by eight inches wide, and the rechargeable lithium-ion battery makes it convenient for on-the-go use.
3. Lexon Oblio Wireless Charger with Built-In UV Sanitizer
This sleek vase-like accessory will charge and sanitize your smartphone. Lexon’s Oblio wireless charging station features a UVC light to kill 99.9% of surface bacteria, viruses, and germs in 20 minutes. Simply place your Qi-enabled iPhone or Android phone in the vessel, and enjoy a full charge in about three hours.
4. Medipop UV Stick Sanitizer
Measuring just five inches tall by 1.5 inches wide by .5 inches thick, Medipop’s handheld UV sanitizer is easy to throw in your bag or luggage. The handy countdown timer lets you know when your device is sterilized and disinfected, and it works on phones, laptops, tablets, keys, and other items.
5. Casetify UV Sanitizer
Casetify’s smartphone sanitizer uses six mercury-free UVC lights to kill 99.99% of germs from devices and other items within three minutes. If your phone is running out of juice, you can also use the unit to charge it wirelessly.
6. Larq Bottle PureVis
If clean drinking water is your concern, Larq’s self-cleaning BPA-free bottle is one of the best UV sanitizers for treating H20. It uses UVC light to remove 99.99% of bio-contaminants from water in about a minute. The stainless-steel vessel also turns on every two hours to ensure your drinks are always fresh, and the double-walled insulated construction keeps water cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 12. It’s also available in a 25-ounce capacity.
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