It was a bad flu season this year, you heard about it at least I’m sure. I had it – on Christmas morning. It was a really bad flu. Someone asked me a question while opening presents and I swallowed before answering and then started tearing up because it hurt so badly to swallow. Fast forward 6 weeks and I got this beauty: The PhoneSoap, version 3.0, $60 on Amazon.
It’s basically a box with two lights in it that are UV-C lights. Quick science lesson: UV-A light is what makes us tan, and UV-B light is what gives us vitamin D, but UV-C light never touches our skin because it can’t get through the stratosphere (which is the atmosphere just farther out than the ozone layer).
There are a variety of UV light products on the market for cleaning – wands you can carry to swipe a public restroom clean really quick, etc. I’ve never bought one because I’m just not sure how safe they are for my skin. UV-C light is a “highly mutagenic” wavelength, which is why the PhoneSoap has taken many precautions to ensure the light remains enclosed within the box and never touches our skin. The light doesn’t even turn on until the lid is closed, and if you open it mid-cycle, the light automatically shuts off. There is also this nifty flap (pictured right) that prevents the light from escaping out the port for the charging cable if you decide not to charge your phone while cleaning it.
So how effective is it? They did lab tests that say it kills 99.9% of bacteria. I was still skeptical, but then I found out this product was featured on Shark Tank – and bought by Lori Greiner. THAT I do trust. The Sharks aren’t dummies, and their sale would have fallen through if the lab results had turned out to be fake, so I believe what they’re saying is true.
Actually using it was extremely anti-climactic though. I’m not sure what I expected. It doesn’t remove dirt or oils, it just zaps bacteria dead, so the phone was still covered in smudges… just bacteria-free smudges. I knew the smudges wouldn’t be gone, I knew all I could do was trust what I’d been told – ‘the lab tests show…’ – but to actually experience it was just disappointing. My eyes wanted proof! I wanted sparkle and shine! (To be fair, the PhoneSoap came with a very nice screen cleaning pad that brought out the sparkle and shine afterwards, but still.)
So, I figured out a way to prove with my own eyes that the bacteria was gone!
How do you normally clean your toothbrush? There are UV toothbrush holders that clean them, but I don’t have one. I clean mine by pouring hydrogen peroxide on it, letting it fizz until it stops, rinsing it off, then pouring on more peroxide and so on. The reason peroxide bubbles when it touches your toothbrush is because it’s killing bacteria. (The peroxide breaks down bacteria cell walls, which release the enzyme catalayse, which reacts with the peroxide, which causes bubbles. Source.)
I’ve cleaned my toothbrush with peroxide enough times to know that it will fizz like crazy on contact and keep on fizzing for a few minutes or until I get tired of waiting and rinse it off to do another round. So I decided to use that to do a test. I put my toothbrush in the PhoneSoap, and when it was done, I poured peroxide on it as I usually would. (I used the regular 3% peroxide that you get from a supermarket.)
NO BUBBLES AFTER THE PHONESOAP! Not one single bubble. Now I’m impressed.
Things I have PhoneSoaped:
- Keys, but be sure to spread them out so all areas are able to be in the light
- Debit card
- Phone, of course
- Sunglasses (only thin/flat ones will fit)
The toothbrush seems just a little too big, but it does fit and the peroxide results say that it’s fine. I guess the light fills the box so well that even the corners are zapped. I still spread my keys out as much as possible to be sure the light touches all areas of them though.
Hold Your Nose
The only concering part about it is the occassional smell after some items – particularly my keys and sunglasses. I’ve started holding my breath when I open it to retrieve an item, which I’m sure isn’t ideal. It might be a good idea to put an air purifier next to it so if there’s any bad joojoo in that smell it’s removed from the area.
Does it REALLY Work?
I love research, as you may know, so to be sure I am bringing you the very best content, I searched the web for other reviews just now before publishing this. Here is an amazing review by a scientist mom, who did swabs and actually grew bacteria in little science dishes. She discovered that the PhoneSoap absolutely does what it claims when you swab the front or back of the phone, but its germ killing power was seriously lacking along the sides because the light is not as strong there. Her review is from 2016 and of the original PhoneSoap (1.0), so the results may be different.
The newer models are larger, allowing a phablet to fit, which could mean either that it is more effective for cleaning the sides of the phone because there is more room available for the light to get to the sides, or it could mean the opposite – because the reflective coating on the walls of the PhoneSoap are farther away, that may mean the light is less strong and therefore cleans even less. (You can hear the makers of PhoneSoap discuss this principle in the video below).
The whole point of using a PhoneSoap is not only the convenience of simply putting something inside and having it cleaned, but also to reduce chemical exposure – both on our skin and to keep things like the coating on sunglasses or some phones safe from liquid chemicals as well. On the one hand, I can’t argue with the results of my toothbrush – that was clean!! On the other hand, that article by the scientist mom is very thorough, so I decided to test it out myself.
Even though I hadn’t PhoneSoaped my phone in a couple days, I guess it was just too clean (I wash my hands a lot too) – no bubbles from the peroxide. Not on the side of the phone, nor on the back. Maybe the PhoneSoap has improved since the 1.0 version that the scientist mom tested? Either way, there wasn’t any bacteria there, or at least not enough to fizz (I put a small puddle of peroxide on the backplate of my phone to be sure – no bubbling – and yes the peroxide is still good, it fizzed like crazy when I poured a little down the bathroom sink drain). So I guess that’s good enough?
Bottomline: if you go somewhere exceptionally germy like a hospital, you may want to double up on your cleaning just in case. However, using the PhoneSoap is more effective than chemicals alone according to their studies (and the studies of the scientist mom), so it’s still better to use it than to stick with chemicals by themselves.
The scientist mom also pointed out that wiping off the phone to remove oils first may make the PhoneSoaping even more effective as it will have less to clean and less material blocking out the light from touching the surface.
Something else to note is that the colors are a little funny on them. Mine is the color ‘orchid’, which is technically the name of a shade of purple, but it looks very pink in some (most) lights. The other colors offered currently are a silver (which looks blue), sand (which looks gold), gold (which looks copper), aqua, black, and white.
I am so pleased with this product that I’m thinking about getting them for several family members, though I wish it wasn’t so expensive. In the long run, they’re absolutely worth it though. I’d definitely pay $60 (and I have) to not get the flu again, or not be as much in danger from the various bacteria at the gym (particularly MRSA), etc.
- Here is a link to their website if you would like more information on it or to buy it directly through them. If purchasing on their site, you will also be able to buy an extended warranty for it for $4.99, but will need to pay for shipping.
- Here is a link to buy it on Amazon if you have a Prime memebership and don’t need the warranty.
And here is a clip of their experience on Shark Tank:
Do you have a PhoneSoap or other UV sanitizing device? Please share your experience in the comments below!