Zero Germ Review: Is It Legit or Just Hype?
Zero Germ is an As Seen On TV portable sanitizer that uses UV rays to kill 99% of germs on anything that can fit in its sterilization chamber, including keys and phones.
The sanitizer also has the ability to charge phones and contains a small diffuser in which diffuse essential oils as you sanitize.
The company who sells zero Germ is InvenTel, a company known for its As Seen On TV products.
In this review, we’ll help you understand if this product is right for you by explaining how it works, talking about the types of germs it can kill and then giving you the current pricing for the product.
We’ll also compare it to other similar products to help you see how Zero Germ’s features stack up against competitors.
Finally, we’ll end with a section that covers the product’s main pros and cons.
How Zero Germ Works
Using this device is very simple. It’s shaped like a rounded rectangle and has a lid that you push back to reveal a sterilization chamber big enough to fit a cell phone. The chamber is lined with what the product’s commercial calls, “dual-germicidal UV lights” that activate when you turn the device on.
One sanitation cycle lasts five minutes. LED lights on the device will alert you when the sterilization process hits 25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent, and 100 percent.
According to the commercial, the sterilizer fits “most cellphones and cases” and that it kills up to 99 percent of germs on whatever you put in the chamber.
This is a good thing, too, as the Zero Germ’s commercial notes that a cellphone carries “20 times more bacteria than a bathroom toilet.”
As for the type of germs the UV light can kill, the sanitizer’s website lists the following:
- E. Coli
- H1N1 flu
- Cold virus
The Zero Germ’s website shows photos of toothbrushes, keys, glasses and make-up brushes going into the sanitizers.
When you open the chamber to put your device in, you also have the option of putting a few drops of essential oils into a small diffuser in the chamber.
Pro tip: The Zero Germ website didn’t offer any information about the devices ability to charge phones, nor did the product’s customer service representatives.
Does UV Light Actually Kill Bacteria and Viruses?
The claims that Zero Germ makes seem pretty fantastic if you haven’t heard of UV sanitizing before. The technique is fairly common, though, but isn’t something that many consumers are familiar with.
While the concept of the Zero Germ is simple—it uses UV light to kill stuff— the science behind it is a little more complex. To get a sense of how a device like this works and if it truly is effective, we reached out to Xenex Disinfection Service, a San Antonio-based cleaning service that employs UV-emitting robots to clean areas.
Xenex’s Dr. Deborah Passey, a clinical scientist at Xenex, told us that the kind of light used to kill bacteria is known as UV-C light. The sun also produces this type of UV light but the Earth’s atmosphere blocks it out.
Basically, she said, UV-C light is able to make changes to the inner workings of bacteria and viruses (“microorganisms”) such that they die. Here’s her scientific version of our basic explanation:
“The absorption of UV-C can result in the formation of dimers in DNA, which can lead to mutations or cell death of the microorganism. The dimers produced by UV-C exposure result in the inactivation of bacteria and DNA viruses.”
So, we know that Zero Germ’s claims that its germicidal light is based on legitimate technology. What’s important, too, is that Passey told us that some UV-C sanitizers have one wavelength while others have multiple wavelengths.
Multi-wavelength sanitizers are able to kill more bacteria than single-wavelength sanitizers. We weren’t able to find a phone representative from InvenTel to answer questions about the product because it was a new product at the time of publishing.
That being said, we know that the device can kill E. Coli, salmonella, staph, MRSA, H1N1 flu and the cold virus.
You may be surprised to find out that some of these bacteria can survive for months on hard surfaces like phones or keys. Passey told us that the MRSA bacteria, for example, can live anywhere from seven days to seven months. E. Coli can live from 1.5 hours up to 16 months.
What this tells us is that Zero Germ has the ability to kill off germs that have the ability to live on your phone, keys and other items for a very long time.
Situations Where Your Zero Germ Might Not Work
Tyler Bech, a lead product engineer at Guzzle H2O, helps design UV sterilization products to clean water.
He said that one of the situations in which a sanitizer might not work is in situations where the UV-C rays aren’t hitting parts of the device you want to clean.
“The effectiveness is limited by the UV rays’ ability to penetrate past the surface of an object, or into areas that might be shaded from the rays,” he said.
This is key because the lighting in the Zero Germ comes from the sides so, practically speaking, you want to make sure that the item you place in the sanitizer isn’t taller than the lights or their UV-C rays may not reach the surface of the device.
Also, this is a key factor for phones that have indentations on the face for speakers. There’s a chance the Zero Germ’s rays may not hit those nooks, so you may want to do a quick touch-up with a disinfectant wipe to make sure you hit those spots.
Also, you may need to flip over items with a lot of grooves like keys or run them through once, flip them over and run them again.
Another issue with UV-C cleaning is that you may think you’re cleaning the device when you aren’t.
“The primary thing that can go wrong with UV sterilization is simply that due to user error the system is not turned on or activated. This is easy to do because UV light is not visible,” Bech said. “So, good UV sterilization systems should have fail safes to confirm effective operation.”
The Zero Germ has an LED lighting system that tells you the UV lights are working, so we see this as a good feature for avoiding a situation where you think you’ve cleaned the item but you haven’t.
Finally, remember that there’s a good chance no sanitizer will kill all the bacteria on your phone, keys and other items, says Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and founder of medical site TrackingZerbra.com.
“Bacteria can live indefinitely on phones or keys. There is no such thing as a sterile phone or a sterile key. The planet teems with bacteria and it is not possible (nor necessary) to sterilize all surfaces,” Adalja said.
Zero Germ Pricing and Refund Policy
At the time of publishing, the Zero Germ was $19.98 plus $9.99 for shipping. Buying a second Zero Germ would cost an additional $9.99. When you’re ready to buy, you can choose between a white or black device.
Residents of New Jersey, California and Nevada will have to pay sales tax, too.
The device comes with a 30-day guarantee, through which you can get a return if you aren’t happy with the product as long as you send it back within 30 days of your purchase. You’ll pay for return shipping.
To start the return process, call (888)596-2546 or email email@example.com.
How Zero Germ Compares to Other UV Sanitizers
We did some quick research of other products on Amazon to see how the pricing and features of the Zero Germ compare.
What we found is that none of the products we searched were as cheap as the Zero Germ. The top-rated sanitizers were at least $59. The ones that were competitively priced were UV-C wands that you wave back and forth over an item. However, these products don’t offer the convenience that the Zero Germ and other devices designed like it do.
One of the main differences between the Zero Germ—and perhaps the most crucial one—is that Amazon sanitizers tell you which phones fit in its sanitizing chamber.
This alone, we believe, could be the make or break for you since shipping costs for sending and returning your Zero Germ are as expensive as the device itself in the event you open it up and find that your phone doesn’t fit.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of the Zero Germ
Based on our research, we believe that Zero Germ has some clear strengths and weaknesses. First, we believe the device is one of the most affordable phone-sized sanitizers, as many of the competing devices we saw on Amazon were at least $50.
Second, the LED lights let you know when the sanitization is taking place and when it’s done, so there’s no mistaking if the Zero Germ cleaned your item or not.
The drawbacks, however, are that there is limited information about which brands and models of phones it can accommodate. If your phone is too big for the sanitization chamber, you’ll end up paying shipping costs that could cost as much as the device itself.
Our best tips for using this device would be to allow it to run a full five-minute cycle before pulling out whatever it is you’re trying to clean. Second, make sure that any items with a lot of crevices go through two cleaning cycles, flipping it over before doing another round of sanitization. This will increase the chances the UV-C rays reach the most surfaces possible.