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Filth Finder: How effective are UV sanitizers?

It claims to kill 99% of bacteria, so we’re putting it to the test with the filth finder.

PHOENIX — A University of Arizona study found our phones can carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats.

A lot of us are seeing ads for UV sanitizers, but do they really work? What if you could disinfect something at home and within minutes, that’s what an ultraviolet lightbox is supposed to do.

It claims to kill 99% of bacteria, so we’re putting it to the test with the filth finder. The 12 News Filth Finder works by counting the amount of living things on a surface.

Under 30 means it's pretty clean. A score of 30 means it's dirty and can make you sick -- everything from the cold and flu to stomach problems.

We picked this sanitizer up for about $30, and it uses UV lamps to damage DNA in bacteria and viruses. This one even has aromatherapy.

It claims to disinfect anything you can fit in there - phones, keys or even your face mask.

One phone we tested came in at 255 on the filth finder, but after being placed in the UV lamp, it came in at 39.

That’s a huge difference, but it’s not exactly spotlessly clean. Remember 30 is dirty but from 255 to 39 is pretty good.

Physician Dr. Andrew Carroll uses UV sanitizers in his office to disinfect the laptops they use.

“At lunchtime, we will run it to the machine and then after the end of the day will run it through again,” he said.

His is way more expensive and probably more powerful; he is a doctor after all. But the principle is the same.

“Those little nooks and crannies between the keys the UV light can get in there,” Carroll said.

“If you do it right, the wavelengths are what kills these organisms but you have to do it with the right wavelength and you have to do it for the right amount of time.”

So far, it seems to work. A test with another phone went from more than 900 all the way down to 134 after 10 minutes in the sanitizer.

It’s not perfect, but for $30 bucks it seems to work.

And Carroll says to get things really clean, you can always wipe it down with disinfecting cloths and then put it in the box to finish it off.

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