Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Apple is now telling consumers it’s okay to use disinfectant wet wipes to clean their iPhones.
On Monday, the company updated its support page on cleaning Apple products with the new language, which was first spotted by The Wall Street Journal.
“Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces,” the guidance from Apple now says.
Before, the company had told consumers to “use only a soft, line-free cloth,” when it came to cleaning the company’s products. Apple had also told consumers to stay away from using “solvents,” which would include isopropyl alcohol along with what’s called Alkyl Dimenthyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride, the active ingredient in both Clorox and Lysol wipes.
Why Apple previously called out solvents is over concerns the chemicals can damage the fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on the iPhone’s front and back. “This coating wears over time with normal use. Cleaning products and abrasive materials will further diminish the coating and might scratch your iPhone,” a separate iPhone cleaning support page says.
But on Monday, Apple removed the word “solvents” from the company’s official cleaning recommendations. Instead, it’s specifically telling consumers to steer clear of bleach. “Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don’t submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents,” the guidance adds. “Don’t use (the disinfectant) on fabric or leather surfaces.”
Apple also recommends you avoid “excessive wiping” of your iPhone to prevent damage. However, the Journal conducted a test involving wiping a new iPhone 1,095 times with Clorox disinfecting wipes, and they found the fingerprint-resistant coating was still intact.
Whether you can actually get your hands on disinfectant wipes is another matter. The coronavirus outbreak has caused consumers to stock up on disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and masks. As result, Amazon, Target, and Walmart have temporarily sold out of Colorox disinfecting wipes on their online websites, which has sparked price-gouging from third-party merchants.
For more, check out our tips for How to Spring Clean Your Electronics.