Have you ever sat down and thought about how dirty our world truly is? We all know that we are supposed to wash our hands after using the restroom. This has been taught, reinforced time and again, ever since we were old enough to use the restroom. Alas, I have watched awestruck as people walk out of the restroom without washing. Personally, that is absolutely disgusting. Despite reasonable sanitary protocols, handwashing, chemicals, etc., bacteria, fungi, and viruses remain all around us. This flu season has been reported as one of the worst in recent history; we have seasonal outbreaks of strep and numerous other illnesses plague those that we love. PhoneSoap XL promises the same 99.9% germ killing power, the ability to charge a tablet with 2.4A output yet gives you a supersized cleaning chamber.
Working in a clinic setting, I use soap/water and alcohol-based cleaner for my hands countless times per day. Surfaces are cleaned regularly, but there may still be a few sources of contamination that may not be cleaned often enough. I cleanse the head of my stethoscope with chemical cleaners, in between uses, and my white coats are laundered if visibly soiled or after approximately three days. Some have actually considered bare-below-the-elbow (BBE) office attire as a means of further eliminating agents of infection. If there is no cloth below the elbows, you can better clean/sanitize your skin. This could work well for clothing, but what about pens/stethoscopes, etc.? I had researched the Phonesoap 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 and the new wireless device but I did not know much about the Phonesoap XL. The ability to clean my tablet, my phone, my stethoscope, pens, etc. was very enticing. So, I purchased a Phonesoap XL device to review.
The PhoneSoap XL is the big brother of the individual Phonesoap phone cleaners. Additionally, like the PhoneSoap 3.0, you gain the ability to charge a device during the 15-minute cleaning cycle. Included within the box, you will find the PhoneSoap XL cleaner device, a single panel instruction manual, and an AC charger with 40-inch cable. The AC adaptor is somewhat bulky, measuring 2 7/8 inches wide by 1 5/16 inches long by 2 inches tall. It has a type-A wall plug aligned with the width of the charger. I did appreciate the design of the charger, as the orientation did not block the other wall outlet. Depending on the type of surge protector or power strip that you are using, this may or may not be a disadvantage. Honestly, I would have loved the wall plug to have had a small expanse of cable and then the power box. Many devices utilize this concept to reduce the ire-inducing Game of cable-Tetris that some of us must play.
The Phonesoap XL device was packaged in a very secure manner and arrived intact. The pristine white sides exuded a sense of sanitation while channeling a touch of Apple’s magic. The external surfaces were relatively devoid of markings. However, I did appreciate the subtle lightning bolt LED on the door and the raised white PhoneSoap logo along the device’s left side. The 9 7/16 inches tall PhoneSoap XL resembled a lopsided trapezoidal shape from the top. The front (door side) was longer than the back and the left side was longer than the right side of the device. Measuring the sides, the hinge-free side was the shorter side and measured 12 inches long and the hinged side measured 16 inches long, The angled 5-inch wide door was longer than the 2 7/8 inches long back. Along the back, you will find cutouts for the AC adaptor, USB-A output, and a 1/2 inches tall by 1 3/8 inches wide angled port, which accommodate a charging cable for your device.
Opening the door, you will notice an internal octagonal shape with an internal reflective coating. Along the bottom and top of the device, Phonesoap XL provided two rows of UV lights. The internal measurements were a little odd due to the internal shape. The upper and lower V measured 9 inches tall at the center, and the edges measured 6 3/4 inches tall. The internal length also suffered from the atypical shape. The right side of the device measured 14 1/4 inches long, and the shorter left side (hinge-free) measured 10 7/8 inches long. The internal door opening measured 4 1/4 inches long, and I was not able to physically measure the internal back. Once the device was unpacked, plugged-in and ready to sanitize, I was ready to actually test the cleaning power.
I reached out to a local lab and talked about surface testing. Utilizing sterile cotton-tipped applicators and culture tubes, we sampled the front and the back/sides of my iPhone X (inside of speck Presidio Ultra case) and the diaphragm head of a Harvey Elite Stethoscope. Using sheep blood agar plates as a medium, a lab tech rubbed the culture swabs onto the above sources. When you open the door of the Phonesoap XL, the UV lamps will extinguish. I placed my iPhone X at an angle into the Phonesoap XL (landscape positioning) with the phone screen facing downward and towards the hinge. When you close the door, the lightning bolt icon will illuminate and will alert you that the device is functional. After fifteen minutes time, the light will extinguish, and you can remove your device.
After the fifteen-minute sanitation cycle, I was curious to see if my phone was hot to the touch. However, before manipulating/contaminating it, I used another sterile culture swab to sample the back/side of the phone. I then leaned the phone over and sampled the screen with another sterile culture swab. I placed the swabs into the culture tubes and then evaluated my iPhone X. The phone had no visible, tactile or temperature changes. From the look and feel of the phone, it would appear that the PhoneSoap XL did not alter/change my phone in any way. With my iPhone X testing complete, I placed the stethoscope into the PhoneSoap XL with the diaphragm (skin contact piece) directed at the lower lights. I closed the door of the PhoneSoap XL and waited another fifteen minutes. When the light extinguished, I sampled the diaphragm of the stethoscope with a sterile culture swab. This was replaced into the culture tube, and all of the post-test culture tubes were taken to the lab.
Each of the blood agar plates was appropriately labeled with location and pre or post. All six of the agar plates were placed in a body temperature incubator at 37 degrees Celcius and allowed to incubate over 24 hours. The following day, I returned to evaluate the plates and was shocked. Let me warn you, the next images are not for those with weak stomachs. Each of the pre-treated locations had prominent growth on blood agar. I was not ready for the sheer amount of growth that was found on my phone screen vs. the phone back/sides and my stethoscope. I wash my hands before and after using the restroom, before and after entering rooms and use sanitizer countless other times throughout my day. Additionally, I use Woosh regularly on my phone/tablet and keyboards to attempt to cut down on contamination. Regardless, this test proved that our phone screens are absolutely disgusting.
I was not prepared for the difference between the pre-treated and post-treated plates. The front of the screen and sides/back of the iPhone X were essentially sterile post-treatment, markedly improved from the pre-treated plate. There was something that survived on the stethoscope that the laboratory worker thought was likely an environmental agent. None of the plates were tested for a given species, and thus we could only guess at the organism. This fact suggested that I could reasonably conclude that the PhoneSoap XL did a great job at cleaning my devices. I will continue a mixture of daily cleansing with Woosh and the Phonesoap XL.
I was happy with the device, with the charger, and the outlet plug but not with the method to turn on the device. Using my DROK USB Multimeter, my iPad Pro 10.5″ charged at ~2.1A during the 15-minute testing cycle. My only complaint about the device was that I found it odd that there was not an on/off/power button. The method to activate/deactivate the UV-cycle was solely by opening/closing the door. Since it is a habit to close cabinet doors, we will simply remove our item, close the door and forget that we are wasting power, while decreasing the life of the bulb. I do not know if the makers of Phonesoap XL intended for the consumer to unplug the device in between uses or if the goal was to leave the door open. The first choice is remarkably inconvenient and the second option is a great way to damage the door/hinge. I was pleased with the device, but the lack of a power button was a very odd omission. Without lab testing, the average consumer will only be able to trust that this is cleaning their devices. Even though I I knew about the power of UV cleaning, the proof was in the agar (pudding).
I would rate the device at 4.5/5 stars, losing points because of the lack of a power button. The shape is eccentric but unique enough to actually work. The power cable is long enough to allow your PhoneSoap XL to rest on your desk. You can leave your device inside of the PhoneSoap XL because it will turn off after 15 minutes. You have the option to charge your device overnight and awaken in the am to a clean, fully charged a full-sized tablet, phone, TV remote, etc. Anyone who has children should consider this for their toys, tablets or other touchable devices. If it fits inside the box, PhoneSoap can clean it.
Originally published at macsources.com on February 26, 2018.