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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Compact and portable
Uses UV-C sterilization
Safety switch enables when pointed upward
Comes in several colors
UV exposure risk
Results aren't visible
The UV Care Pocket Sterilizer offers portable UV cleaning specifically for travelers who want to keep personal items, gadgets, and non washable surfaces germ-free, but does put the onus of responsible, safe use on the user.
UV Care provided us with a review unit for one of our writers to test. Read on for their full take.
The UV Care Pocket Sterilizer satisfies a particular desire: It offers UV-C disinfection of everyday gadgets and surfaces people come into contact with and can’t wash. According to UV Care, the UV-C light employed in this wand can provide up to 99.9 percent sterilization for 60 bacteria and molds and E. ooli. While some sanitization requires up to 3 minutes of exposure, other applications take as little as 2 seconds.
While the safety switch turns off the UV lamp if the sanitizer faces upward, this device still comes with a UV exposure risk that’s greater than enclosed machines.
This sterilizer offers an alternative way to clean your smartphone screen and other devices in a pocket-friendly, clamshell design for traveling. While the safety switch turns off the UV lamp if the sanitizer faces upward, this device still comes with a UV exposure risk that’s greater than enclosed machines. If you’re confident that you can safely use it, this affordable sterilizer aims to add the peace of mind you’re looking for when you travel, run errands, or tidy up at home.
UV light sanitizers come in a range of sizes and form factors, but if you’re seeking a portable option, it’s hard to beat the ultra-compact build of the UV Care Pocket Sterilizer. The clamshell design comes in four shades, White, Seascape (Blue), Crimson, and Mint Sorbet, and stands at just under 5 inches tall. It’s also relatively slim at 1.38 inches wide and 0.98 inches deep. It fit easily in jacket pockets and small purses.
When unfolded, it measures a still-manageable 9.5 inches tall, and the UV lamp sits at the top half. The power button is on the upper-right side of the device and responds promptly to presses. The only other notable design feature is the micro USB port on the bottom of the sterilizer.
It’s hard to beat the ultra-compact build of the UV Care Pocket Sterilizer.
It operates with the enclosed cord, which offers power through a USB connection but doesn’t recharge the battery. The other power option comes from four AAA batteries in the battery compartment, which was very easy to open and close.
The UV Care Pocket Sterilizer is a simple device, and the setup process reflects that. Pop in four AAA batteries, and you’re ready to go. If you prefer to use the USB cord or the batteries die, the cord measures just under 5 feet long, which is convenient for wired use.
Using the UV Care Pocket Sterilizer is simple: Turn on the power button, wait for the LED indicator to illuminate, and then place it 0.25 inches over the object. UV Care reports that 10 seconds is generally all it takes to do the job, but safe operation and effective technique are all on the user.
The manufacturer includes a table of the bacteria, molds, and viruses this UV sanitizer effectively kills based on the number of seconds the wand is applied but doesn’t say more beyond the general distance and time recommendation.
As for results, all UV Care products operate on the 253.7 nm wavelength, which qualifies it as a germicidal lamp effective at reducing and eliminating bacteria. However, UV Care doesn’t provide any specific information about their lab testing like some companies do.
UV Care offers loose guidance, but safe operation and effective technique are on the user.
Like other products in this category, it also lacks certification from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or safety certification. According to the Underwriter Laboratories (UL), UV wand-type products can’t be certified for safe consumer use. The FDA also refers to the potentially higher risks associated with 254 nm UV-C wavelengths than lower far UV-C light frequencies of 222 nm.
UV Care addresses the risks with a safety switch that turns the lamp off if it’s turned upward, which is a feature you’ll find in most portable sterilizers. This setting reduces the chance that a child or adult user who mishandles the device would face harmful UV light exposure. It also provides clear guidance in the user manual to refrain from using the lamp on the skin or near the eyes, acknowledging the danger involved in using this product.
UV Care stipulates that the lamp has a lifetime potential of running for 8,000 hours. I didn’t come even a fraction of the way there in my testing over a week. My use consisted of brief spurts of exposure throughout the day to high-touch items, including smartphones, keyboards, keys, pens, notebooks, and tote bags.
I didn’t feel the need or very comfortable with more than very minimal exposure, typically a few seconds, depending on the item’s size. While the USB power cord option deviates from the very portable nature of this device, it delivered the same responsiveness as battery power.
Retailing for near $43, the UV Care Pocket Sterilizer is on the affordable end for portable phone sanitizers that have put their product through lab testing. Pricier wand sterilizers that are double and up to seven times the price of the UV Care sanitizer, though they don’t fold, models such as the Monos CleanPod come with extra benefits such as a rechargeable battery, safer UV-C LEDs, and clinical testing.
The Purify-One UV Wand, which retails for $300, is a strong example of what exists on the other end of the spectrum. Purify-One provides users with protective gloves and goggles and urges wearing both with each use.
Both Purify-One and UV Care are members of the International Ultraviolet Association, an organization dedicated to furthering the safe use of UV technology, but Purify-One’s portable sanitizer has clinical approval from a CDC-backed third-party lab for virus-fighting power. These assurances require a higher buy-in, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when dealing with a product that produces results you can’t physically see.
The Monos CleanPod UVC Sterilizer, retailing for $77 to $90, also earns points in the portability category. Though it doesn’t fold, at 8.62 inches, it’s slightly shorter than the UV Care when it’s in the open position. It also boasts a decidedly more elevated look, with a sleek white exterior and a flat UV-C LED panel instead of the UV-C mercury bulb in the UV Care Pocket Sterilizer.
The Monos sterilizer also comes with a rechargeable battery that replenishes in about 2.5 hours via the provided USB-C charging cable. Both are portable, but if you’d rather forego batteries, the Monos offers that freedom.
As for safety and powering and using the device, both function similarly with press power buttons. Rather than a safety switch in an upward position, Monos offers a switch that prevents the device from turning on by mistake.
That’s a noticeable miss in this category and at this price point. However, in contrast to UV Care, Monos provides users with their lab testing results to back up their claims. Still, true efficacy and safety are up in the air with either product and dependent on proper application by the user.
A pocket-size sanitizing solution for traveling, if you feel comfortable with the risks.
The UV Care Pocket Sterilizer is a portable solution for on-the-go sanitizing. The clamshell build, safety switch, and wired or battery operation are positives, as is the potential to eliminate many bacteria. However, the efficacy lacks support from detailed lab results from the manufacturer, and there are risks associated with UV-C light in this form factor. If the pros outweigh the cons for you, the price point and design make this an easy addition to your luggage or everyday bag.
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