Over the last year, we’ve all becomes uncomfortably aware of how easy it is to catch and pass on infections. The surfaces we regularly touch harbour thousands of different types of bacteria (many of which are harmless, it should be said). We’re constantly washing our hands but we can’t do the same with the tech we handle all the time.
That’s where UV sanitisers come in. Pop your phone into one and it’ll be bathed in UV-C light, killing off any nasties hanging around on its surface.
You can also use a sanitiser to clean other bits of tech such as your earbuds, and the items you carry around with you, like your watch, keys and pens.
Or at least, that’s the promise. The big question is: do UV sanitisers work? The best answer we can give is that they do, to some extent. UV-C light is an efficient way to destroy microbial life and is commonly used in labs and industrial settings.
But commercially available devices aren’t as powerful. A lot will depend on how strong the light is, whether it can reach all the surfaces of the items it’s cleaning and how long they are exposed to it. Most devices claim to be able to remove 99+% of bacteria and viruses but we doubt that’s likely outside of a lab.
UV sanitisers should be used as one layer of protection in the routine you use to keep items clean. But in this capacity, they are pretty nice to have around. That’s why we’ve rounded up and tested some of the best sanitisers on the market.
If you’d like to find out more about how UV sanitisers work, have a look at our guide. And if you want buying advice, you can check it out after the chart. Otherwise, read on for our recommendations.
Moshi Deep Purple – Most stylish
This premium UV phone sanitiser is all about its great design. Not only is it comfortably the best looking sanitiser we’ve tested but its clever, origami-style construction means it folds down flat for easy portability. Stick it in your bag and you can clean your gadgets wherever you are – at home or in the office.
It’s big enough to fit your phone and the bits you carry around with you day-to-day, such as your wallet, watch and earbuds.
It’s not battery powered but its USB-C connector means you can charge it from a portable battery pack on the fly, as well as (obviously) plugging it into an outlet.
But looking this good comes at a price. While the Deep Purple is one of the most expensive UV sanitisers we’ve tested, it has no other features or functionality.
Read our full Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitiser review
Coral UV 2 – Most versatile
The Coral UV 2 has plenty of space for all your tech (it can fit a tablet but not a laptop) but it really comes into its own as a multifunctional appliance that can handle all of your home’s sanitising requirements.
It’s as big as a bread maker, so it’ll need a dedicated spot in your home but its size means you can also use it to sanitise home medical equipment, baby bottles and toys.
As well as just sanitising, it has a sanitise and dry option, so you can ensure that just-washed items aren’t left damp and prone to bacterial growth. It also features a HEPA filter to give the items being cleaned another layer of protection.
It’s a really solid appliance at a good price point.
Read our full Coral UV 2 sanitiser review
QDOS UV sanitiser – Best wireless charging option
The QDOS sanitiser is a little white box that’s still big enough to fit most of the stuff you carry around with you. It’ll fit a phone and earbuds, a watch and pens, a couple of pairs of glasses, or your keys and a thin wallet.
It has a rapid (3 minute) and an intensive (10 minute) cleaning cycle.
It’s light enough to carry around with you and has a USB-C port to attach to the mains, plus a USB-A port to charge other tech.
The QDOS also functions as a Qi wireless charger. Stick your phone on top of the box and use the rapid 5, 7.5 or 10W charging to bump your phone up to 100% in three hours.
The QDOS isn’t the cheapest UV sanitiser on the market, but it’s light, robust and its additional features make it well worth a spot on your desk.
Read our full QDOS UV sanitiser review
Flexispot S6G/S6T – Keep your mouse and keyboard clean
This monitor stand is designed to raise your monitor to the correct position to protect your neck while you’re working – but it does much more than that.
It also has a USB charging port and a modular drawer to keep your desk organised, as well as a UV lamp to sanitise your mouse and keyboard at the end of the day.
You can also use the UV light to sanitise your phone and any other bits of tech you touch a lot. One of the big advantages of the Flexispot as a UV sanitiser is that you can clean a tablet, which isn’t possible with any of the smaller, box-style products.
Although a cleaning cycle takes 10 minutes, because the light isn’t inside a reflective box, you should turn over your items and put them through another cycle on the other side.
As there’s no safety barrier, you have to keep your hands away from the light and ensure that you don’t switch it on when kids or pets are around.
Read our full FlexiSpot MonitorStand Workstation S6G/S6T review
Belkin Boost Charge – Most budget-friendly
At under £40, Belkin’s offering is the most wallet-friendly on this list. It’s a similar design to the QDOS sanitiser: a paperback-sized white box that also functions as a wireless charger for Qi-enabled phones and earbuds. It’s not quite as deep as the QDOS product though, so forget about cleaning your glasses in it.
The Belkin sanitiser has two cleaning cycles, one for 3 minutes that promises to rid your device of 97% of bacteria and one for 10 minutes that promises 99.99%. It’s only recommended for use with non-porous items, so it’ll work on your phone but not your wallet.
We had one issue with the device. It can be opened mid-cycle and the light does leak out for a moment before the automatic shut-off kicks in. Belkin says that it’s only for a fraction of a second and it’s not harmful to your eyes, but if you’re buying a phone sanitiser to feel a bit safer, this may just be replacing one worry with another.
Kikkerland UVC phone sanitiser – Portable and spacious
The Kikkerland sanitiser’s USP is that it’s extremely portable, as you can opt to take the lid (which houses the UV-C LEDs) with you and leave the bulky box at home.
However, this is also what gives us some doubts about the product as, without the snug fit of the rest of the device, some light does leak out from under the lid during use. Lift up the lid and the light will switch off – but it doesn’t happen instantly.
Still, take the box with you as well and you’ll find that it’s spacious enough to sanitise chunkier items such as your wallet or glasses.
Like many of the box-style UV sanitisers we’ve tested, it has both a 3-minute and a 10-minute sanitising cycle. It plugs in via a micro-USB cable but there’s no wireless charging and no spare ports.
Read our full Kikkerland UVC Phone Sanitiser review
What to look out for when you’re buying a UV sanitiser
What can you clean with a UV-C light?
If you’re going to invest in a sanitiser, the first thing to figure out is what you want to clean with it. Most sanitisers will work best on items with flat, non-porous surfaces and few crevices. That’s why they’re a useful solution for cleaning tech.
Most smaller UV sanitisers are designed to fit a phone. This means you can also clean smaller items such as your earbuds and watch. But check the dimensions of the device you want to buy because not every sanitiser is deep enough to fit your glasses.
UV sanitisers work by breaking down the DNA of microbial life with UV-C light. This means that UV-C light is equally dangerous to human and animal skin and eyes: strong UV-C light can cause burns and lead to skin cancer.
You should look for a product that effectively shields its light. Most effective UV-C sanitisers will operate within a sealed box.
Wands or boxes?
Most UV-C sanitisers either look like wands or boxes. We haven’t recommended any UV-C wands and here’s why.
For a start, it’s unlikely that they’ll be effective. Surfaces need sustained exposure to UV-C light to destroy microbial life. Most UV-C sanitisers will have a quick cycle that’s no shorter than three minutes, which means that a quick swipe with a wand will do very little. And holding a wand over your phone for 3 minutes is a pretty poor use of your time.
There’s also a safety issue. If a wand were really strong enough to be effective, it would be dangerous to your eyes and to any skin it passed over.
To earn a spot on your desk, smaller phone sanitisers may have other features, including extra ports for charging other tech and a wireless charging option. This should work with all Qi-enabled phones and earbuds and should give your tech a full charge in three hours.
If you’re looking at a larger sanitiser, it may have other cleaning features, such as drying and air filtering.
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