In the COVID-19 era, it’s more important than ever to be able to safely sanitize the mobile phones, tablets, toys, and any of the other small devices or items we use in our day-to-day lives. However, using disposable antibacterial wipes is often bad for the environment and can become quite costly over time – after all, who wants to use a whole tube of those in a day? Similarly, you can’t always just use soap and water to disinfect your items. Scrubbing your mobile phone with a sponge is definitely not recommended!
UV-C sanitation boxes are a novel solution. Though they were around before the coronavirus, they’ve recently become more popular as people have realized the necessity of a quick, easy to use sanitation solution for their homes. These boxes offer semi-portable and simple to control sanitation stations that can be used to thoroughly clean and sanitize any number of small devices, toys, or everyday objects. They run off normal power and, in some cases, are even portable.
However, different UV-C sanitation boxes come with different dimensions, which may or may not allow some of your most favorite devices or objects to fit inside. Others might also charge or project their UV-C radiation in different ways. But all of these boxes can sanitize your devices and items safely, as opposed to letting them sit outside in the sun where they might bake, warp, or otherwise be damaged.
In this guide, we’ll break down three of the best UV-C sanitation boxes on the market. Each comes from a different manufacturer, so they’re made with different focuses and are suitable for different users. But we’ll also outline which is likely the best for the majority of people or the best overall. Let’s get started.
What’s a UV-C Sanitation Box, Anyway?
In a nutshell, a UV-C sanitation box is any box that projects UV-C radiation to kill bacteria and make a device safe to use. UV-C stands for ultraviolet C, and it’s a type of UV radiation that is particularly good at killing many kinds of harmful microorganisms. Without getting too technical, this type of radiation can destroy nucleic acids and disrupt the DNA of bacteria and harmful cells. This makes them unable to perform their main functions and eventually dismantles them. For COVID-19 cells or other harmful bacteria, this is quite an effective countermeasure.
There’s actually plenty of UV-C in the air, but it’s only detectable in higher altitudes as the ozone layer of the earth’s atmosphere blocks the majority of it from hitting our skin. This is a good thing since constant UV-C radiation bombardment would do quite a number on our skin and other healthy cells. But in a UV-C box, this radiation is contained and only directed at the objects that you place inside.
UV-C sanitation boxes normally have one or more emitters (usually several to ensure equal radiation exposure on every side of the objects placed inside) that project UV-C radiation. The boxes sometimes come with batteries so they can continue to function even if they aren’t plugged in. This also makes them good portable sanitation solutions compared to wipes or traditionally cleaning toys and devices with soap.
Because UV-C sanitation boxes don’t heat up the objects they bathe in radiation, they don’t harm your items and aren’t difficult to hold or touch themselves. All in all, these boxes are great ways to stop germs from spreading from person-to-person, particularly by killing bacteria on shared devices. Those with kids may particularly want to consider these since children are notorious for bringing bacteria home from school, then spreading that bacteria everywhere by sharing toys or devices with themselves and their siblings or other kids.
Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that UV-C sanitation boxes can’t kill 100% of germs, as no antibacterial solution can be guaranteed to be effective. Still, most box manufacturers will advertise 99.99% effectiveness: a common claim for both these devices and other sanitation solutions.
HomeSoap is a phenomenal portable UV-C sanitation box. It’s extremely easy to use – by default, the box begins bathing whatever objects are inside in UV-C radiation as soon as the narrow door is opened and closed. However, the box also comes with a manual on or off switch. This allows you to toggle between the automatic or manual modes depending on your needs. It also lets you give items stored inside a second bath in UV-C radiation if you want to really make sure that it takes care of the majority of germs.
The interior compartment is large enough to store devices like an Apple iPad Pro, or similar tablets with around the same dimensions. The real limiting factor is the opening door, which is narrow and rectangular. This means fitting wider devices into the sanitizing compartment can be somewhat tricky. Still, most commonly shared household items like remotes, e-readers or bottles should be easy to fit inside.
Once seated within, objects are saturated with UV-C emitted from twin, powerful UV-C lights. The interior also features a reflective inner surface. This is particularly effective since it ensures that the UV-C radiation will surround the item and get deep into the nooks and crannies of devices, killing as much bacteria as possible.
The HomeSoap can even recharge the mobile devices you place inside thanks to the USB-A and C ports located just inside the front door on the roof of the device. Keep in mind that you have to have the HomeSoap plugged into the wall if you want to both sanitize and charger devices at the same time; otherwise, it can only sanitize when not plugged in. This function does mean it works as a portable UV-C box, offering added value. The batteries don’t last all that long, though, so most will want to keep it plugged in for convenience and to make sure the sanitation cycle doesn’t stop unexpectedly.
Speaking of cycles, the HomeSoap’s full cycle lasts for about 10 minutes before automatically turning off. If you set the device to manual mode, it’ll keep flashing UV-C radiation until you tell it to turn off. This control is excellent for those who want to make absolutely sure they get all the bacteria possible before handing a device to their kids.
59S UV Ultraviolet LED Sterilizer Sanitization Box
The 59S UV-C Sterilizer Box is a horizontally-oriented rather than vertical device, but it has a much faster sanitation cycle of just three minutes instead of 10. This means that most devices should be cleared of 99.99% of harmful bacteria within just a few minutes, making it hardly the best choice for those who need to sanitize their stuff quickly before heading out the door. The interior features reflective glass at the bottom, plus a silicon support bracket to ensure that UV-C light is spread around efficiently and evenly.
The 8 UV-C LED bulbs within generate between 260 and 280 nm UV light. Even with all these bulbs, the 59S only weighs 14.8 ounces and is extremely compact. Its dimensions are 8.5” x 4.1” x 2.8”, so it’s suitable for many smaller devices like remotes, mobile devices, and bottles. This does exclude some of the larger tablets that can still fit within the HomeSoap’s sanitizing compartment, but this may or may not be a dealbreaker depending on the stuff you need to be sanitized.
The 59S automatically stops flashing UV-C light if the top opens. Furthermore, it powers off automatically after 15 hours. This both prevents you from over sterilizing some devices but also prevents you from wasting the sanitizer’s battery capacity. Still, the LED lights used in this device should last for up to 10,000 hours before needing to be replaced.
The biggest downside with this particular unit is its lack of manual modes. Using the box is extremely easy – just make sure that the type C connector is plugged in and press the power button located on the top of the box to begin the sanitation process. A white light ignites to inform you that the advertising process has begun. But it’s all automatic and you aren’t able to manually restart another process without watching the box to re-hit the button again.
One last thing to note is the 59S is extremely budget-friendly compared to the HomeSoap. Thus, it may be a better option if you only have a few devices you need to sanitize here and there and don’t care about not having as much space or as much control.
Hope C+ UV Sanitizer Bag
The Hope C+ is a novel take on the sanitizer box concept. It looks much closer to a portable lunchbox then either of the other two devices seen so far. But it can still clean your devices of up to 99.9% of bacteria in a five-minute sanitation cycle. It weighs 520 g and can be folded up to a smaller size if you don’t have anything currently in the sanitizing compartment, so it’s arguably the best portable UV-C sanitizer around.
A single UV-C lamp stretched over the roof of the box provides 10,000 hours of cleansing UV-C light for any devices placed inside. The Hope C+ is made with well-stitched, water-resistant and high-quality polyester materials that prevent fraying, and the box is closed and opened with strong zippers. It has a middle spacer on the interior to help you organize the devices you place inside, but you can just as easily remove this if you prefer. The interior is reflective to help UV-C radiation spread everywhere needs to go.
As with the 59S, the Hope C+ automatically shuts off its UV-C lights if the lid opens more than 45°. It can only be used when plugged in, of course, but you’ll still easily be able to take it anywhere thanks to its foldability and general light weight.
All in all, it’s the most spacious UV-C sanitation box out of all three. It’s also only a little more expensive than the 59S and is still much more affordable than the HomeSoap.
Each of the above UV-C sanitation boxes do a good job of sterilizing the most commonly used devices and toys in your home. But which is the best?
The HomeSoap is the most expensive and isn’t the highest capacity. The place where it shines the most (no pun intended) is the fact that it allows you to set a manual control for the UV-C wash. Being able to sanitize particularly germy devices for as long as you need is a feature that the other two boxes simply don’t provide. You’re at the mercy of having to restart their preset UV-C sanitizing cycles every time they end.
The 59S, meanwhile, is a good alternative if you want something more budget-friendly. However, the Hope C+ is only barely more expensive than the 59S and offers the most capacity out of any of the UV-C sanitation boxes seen so far. Thus, we think that the Hope C+ is actually the best budget-friendly choice and the best pick if you want a sanitizer box that has lots of room for multiple devices, clothing items, or toys at once. The price difference simply isn’t worthwhile enough for us to recommend the 59S.
That’s the tradeoff, in our eyes – the HomeSoap is best if you have a little extra cash to spare and want to make sure you have control over how well your things are sterilized. The Hope C+ is a better option if you want to err on the side of savings while you sterilize your frequently used items, but also want to prioritize space. This is especially true since the HomeSoap, while relatively spacious, has a narrow opening that will prevent you from sterilizing a few common household items without thin or flat shapes.
Even with all these caveats, any of the above UV-C sanitation boxes will be great choices for keeping you and your family protected from the harmful bacteria and viruses that can spread around all too easily in this day and age.