With10-minutes of UV-C light, you can turn the petri dish in your pocket into a sterile surface.

According to the PhoneSoap website, the surface of our smartphone has “18x more bacteria than a restroom.” With the current COVID-19 Pandemic in full swing, we are constantly reminded to self-isolate, to mask-up, and to wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap and water/sanitizer. Despite these warnings, our hands touch everything and then transfer everything we touch onto our phones and tablets. Even though we may wash our hands regularly, we do not cleanse our devices to the same standards. Harnessing the power of UV-C light, the PhoneSoap/HomeSoap devices promise to sanitize 99.99% of surface germs to include common bacteria (Escherichia coli [E. Coli], Salmonella typhimurium [Salmonella], Staphylococcus aureus [Staph], Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA], and viruses (Influenza, Rhinovirus). It is not yet known if UV-C will kill the new Sars-Cov-2 virus, but combined with alcohol-based options, it could only help.

Many people are aware of UV-A and UV-B light because we are told about the benefits of sunscreen against them. However, many people may be unaware of the short-wavelength UV-C light. According to the PhoneSoap website, most UV-C light is blocked by our atmosphere. When harnessed, the germicidal rays can break apart a germs DNA, prevent them from reproducing, and they will die. Interestingly, this technology is not new. Rather, Nobel Laureate Niels Friensen developed it in the late 1800’s to aid the battle against Tuberculosis. With known medical uses for harnessed UV-C light, the makers of PhoneSoap wanted to provide a device for home use. I have had the pleasure of previously testing the PhoneSoap devices and the PhoneSoap XL. When I heard about the HomeSoap, I wanted to test the device myself.

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The Homesoap device arrived in a 19 7/8 inches long by 14 7/8 inches wide by 8 3/8 inches thick tan cardboard box. The cover/top panel displayed a large white rectangle with the HOMESOAP name/logo in the negative space and a brown outline of the UVC cleaner. The left side panel showed a white ink outline of the lower 80% of the device, while the right panel displayed “Your life just got brighter” and oddly displayed the remainder of the image. The bottom panel showed a side view of the Homesoap, the charger, and listed the Type A Socket Adapter for USA/Canada/Mexico/Japan. When I lifted the front flap, I found a 9 inches wide by 5 3/8 inches tall blue instructional sticker atop a clear 9 inches wide by 3 3/4 inches tall Warranty coverage sticker. The manual provided four 1 5/8 inches diameter instructional panels: 1. Plug HomeSoap into power. 2. Place objects in sanitizing bay. 3. Close the door to begin disinfection. 4. After 10 minutes remove the newly sanitized objects. I do not think that the company could have made this process more intuitive. For additional help, you can navigate to their website, contact their (866) 432-0525 phone number, or you can scan the QR code along the bottom of the instruction manual (phonesoap.com/home-set-up).

One of my favorite parts of a review is scanning the packaging/contents. The outer tan box did not provide any specifications, did not given any product dimensions, and felt like an outer shipping box, similar to those utilized by Amazon. After opening the lid, I found the Homesoap device and charger carefully packaged within two halves of a foam cube. Before you dispose of the surrounding foam, make sure that you remove the charging block/cable from the charger cutout. The 2 1/8 inches square by 1 1/8 inches thick charger had a retractable type A wall plug on one side and an affixed 60 inches long power cable. The sides and top of the charger were left blank, while the bottom panel listed the model, the 100-240V/50/60Hz/0.8A input, and the 12V-2000mA output. The matte-white device measured 15 1/8 inches long by 4 13/16 inches wide by 11 1/4 inches wide. Along the bottom of the device, you will find six plastic-coated feet and a blue instruction manual with instructions to remove before first use. The sticker provided information about the feet of the HomeSoap, the micro-suction adhesive material, and the ability to clean them anew with water. These feet were designed to increase the contact with the resting surface and to reduce the chances of the device tipping over. Just in front of the back two feet, the company provided a UV light warning sticker, and just behind them, you will find the arcuate cutout for the power cable. Lastly, just above the power port, you will find PHONESOAP etched into the surface of the panel.

I plugged the AC adapter into the charging port and then into the wall outlet. The front panel of the HomeSoap had a vertically oriented lightning oval LED and a concave door-opening handle. When I opened the door, I found a 3 3/8 inches wide by 9 1/8 inches tall opening. The backing of the door had a grey plug that sealed the opening. Within the 13 3/8 inches deep chamber, you will find six vertically-oriented UV-C light cylinders (3 on each side), a light along the top of the panel, and one along the bottom of the panel beneath a thin clear plastic layer. So long as an object can fit into the chamber, it should be bathed by the UV-C light. I placed my iPhone 11 Pro Max into the chamber and swabbed the surface with a sterile cotton-tipped culture swab. I closed the door and noted that the lightning bolt logo illuminated. After ten minutes, the light extinguished, and my iPhone was done cleaning.  I opened the door, and without touching anything, utilized a sterile swab to resample the phone surface. I repeated these steps with my Apple Watch Series 4, my desktop mouse, and with my stethoscope.

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Once the swabs were collected, I took the samples to my local hospital lab. From that point, the director of the lab transferred the samples onto petri dishes and allowed them to incubate at body temperature for 48 hours. At the 48 hour mark, the iPhone surface pre-sterilization petri dish looked disgusting. He noted that the numerous colonies were likely Staph/Strep species and had some large clusters of Bacillus species as well. Amazingly, the iPhone post-sterilization petri dish had no growth. To repeat the above process, the surface of my watch had a large Bacillus species before the sterilization, and the petri dish post sterilization showed no growth. The surface of the mouse appeared to grow Staph/Strep species before the sterilization and may have had a surviving colony post sterilization. With regular use of 70% alcohol on my stethoscope, I was pleased to find that the pre sterilization swab had very little growth, and the post swab showed no growth of bacteria. Considering the overall results, I was immensely impressed with the pre/post phone petri dish. I have a waterproof Catalyst Case on my iPhone 11 Pro Max and regularly wash it with soap/water or 70% alcohol. I would have thought that the results would have mimicked the surface of my stethoscope, but they did not.

With repeat testing, the inner chamber of the Homesoap accommodated my iPad Pro 11″, remotes for my television/surround sound, my iPhone 11 Pro Max, my Nintendo Switch, Apple Watch Series 4, and computer mouse. The chamber was not large enough for my computer keyboard and was also too small for my MacBook Pro. You could use the HomeSoap to sterilize baby bottles, pacifiers, books, toys, Kindles/E-Readers, Android devices/tablets, Console controllers for Xbox/Playstation, Etc. Up until this point, the HomeSoap review felt very similar to the PhoneSoap XL but with a few notable enhancements. First, it does not appear that the company sells the PhoneSoap XL any longer, instead opting for the new HomeSoap line. Instead of opening/shutting the door to activate/deactivate the cycles, the company added a power on/off button along the front of the device.

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Additionally, located just inside the opening, you will find a 2.4A USB-A and 2.4A USB-c output port. Not only will the device sanitize our home portable devices, I can leave them on charge even after the UV-C light has finished the cycle. I felt that the $199.95 asking price was quite fair. Even if the device manages to prevent a single sick day, it has paid for itself. With the current CDC restrictions, that single day may end up being closer to 10-14 days. I would highly encourage everyone to have a device like the HomeSoap. With the future of the current virus unknown and the need to reduce sick days at an all time high, I would welcome any advantage. Despite all of the positives of the device, the HomeSoap will not be available until August 18th. Definitely consider putting in your preorder for this amazing device.

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