You don’t need a separate, dedicated device to clean your iPhone, especially one that’s as expensive as some of PhoneSoap’s products. If you take care of your iPhone properly — meaning that you regularly wipe it down and disinfect it (by carefully using rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth) — you shouldn’t have to employ any sort of machine. But if we’re honest, can you remember the last time you wiped yours down? Probably not.
PhoneSoap claims that the average smartphone has 18 times more bacteria on it than a public restroom’s door handle or sink, which seems slightly ridiculous, but also not really that unrealistic. How often do you use iPhone when you’re sitting on the toilet and eating lunch? (Actually… don’t answer that.) The company has created a line of products that capitalize on people not realizing how disgusting their smartphones are and, once they do, freaking out enough to pick up a gadget that kills 99.9-percent of bacteria – which is exactly what PhoneSoap’s products do, by blasting your iPhone or other gadgets with germ-killing UV light.
I’ve used the PhoneSoap XL, which is the largest product that company makes, for a few weeks and it hasn’t changed my life – but it has definitely given a little extra piece of mind. The PhoneSoap XL, which many people online have called it a “tanning bed” for your gadgets, was designed for iPads and iPhones, but it’s actually capable of cleaning anything that can fit in it. I used with my wireless keyboard, mouse, MacBook Pro, Nintendo Switch and headphones — basically, any piece of tech that I often touch with my hands.
So how do you tell if your device is clean? Since I wasn’t doing in-depth experiments to make sure the PhoneSoap was actually doing its job and killing the gross bacteria that was undoubtedly on my stuff, it definitely required a bit of trust. That said, other users have done some pretty deep dives on PhoneSoap, even growing their own bacteria (here) to see how much the product kills. Bottom line: it works.
The PhoneSoap XL isn’t a complicated product. To use it, you just open the door, place your device inside, close the door and it’ll automatically start. There’s no button to push or switch to hit. You just need to make sure that the PhoneSoap XL is plugged in – it has a 2.4A USB port on its back for power – and then, after it has run for about 15 minutes, the blue light on the door will turn off and you’re free to open it up and remove your newly clean gadget from inside. If you want to charge the gadget while you’re cleaning, you can do that too: the PhoneSoap XL has a small opening in its back through which you can slip any charging cable.
Once PhoneSoap has done the cleaning, there is no “wow” moment. It’s a fairly anticlimactic process. You just simply slide out the device and trust that it done its job. I was able to feel a little tactile difference on my iPhone and 13-inch MacBook Pro – they felt drier, not quite as slick – but I couldn’t tell that gadgets were obviously cleaner just by looking at them. Lastly, PhoneSoap makes several smaller devices that don’t cost $120 that are designed just for your smartphone, in case you don’t think your larger gadgets need a blue-light bath.
What it comes down to, in my eyes, is how much you worry about bacteria and germs being on the devices that you use every day. Chances are, it’s not a lot. If you were really worried about it, all you’d need was a cloth, rubbing alcohol and careful hand and you wouldn’t have to worry about spending $120 on a device that cleans your gadgets. But that would take more time and be way more meticulous. As ridiculous as a dedicated device to clean your gadgets will sound to most people, this PhoneSoap is probably the best (and most definitely the easiest) way to make sure your smartphone, laptop and tablet are a little less nasty.