Apple OKs disinfecting wipes for cleaning devices

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The Häns Swipe-Clean cleaning solution cuts through the surface's oily residue.
You can use disinfecting wipes on your Apple devices.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

With the COVID-19 virus spreading, you’ve probably never been more thorough about washing your hands. But you quickly defeat the purpose as soon as you touch that disgusting iPhone or Mac keyboard.

It’s true your devices host more germs than apps. So Apple recently updated its product cleaning page, offering peace of mind as we stress out about COVID-19.

Cupertino now says it’s OK to use cleaning products on Apple devices, a change in messaging spotted by The Wall Street Journal, which reported its own set of cleaning tips Monday.

Coronavirus can live on inanimate surfaces, like the plastic, glass and brushed aluminum of our favorite Apple products, for up to nine days.

Guidelines for cleaning Apple products

The Apple cleaning support page offers guidelines specific to each device. For years, Apple discouraged the use of cleaning products and wipes, arguing they could be abrasive and erode the protective coating that reduces oily smudges left by hands and fingers.

Recently, Apple placed a stand-alone instruction in the middle of the page under the headline, “Is it OK to use a disinfectant on my Apple Product.” Apple answers in the affirmative now.  The company recommends a 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox disinfecting wipe to “gently” clean hard surfaces.

Apple says not to use bleach and to avoid getting moisture in any opening. Also, don’t dunk your gadgets in cleaning agents, the website warns.

Apple hasn’t had time to update the entire section. If you click on the instructions for various devices, the text still warns not to use cleaning products.

If you have an iPhone 7 or newer, Cult of Mac’s Leander Kahney says it’s OK to wash your iPhone carefully with soap and running water.

The controversial removal of the headphone jack in 2016 elevated iPhone 7’s waterproof rating. The rating basically says your iPhone can survive a quick soak in a pool or lake. Nowhere does Apple recommend the Kahney cleaning method. However, the IP67 and IP68 ratings on newer iPhones suggests a certain resistance to water.