What’s the object you touch the most? We’re guessing that your mobile phone probably features in the top three. A Nottingham Trent University once estimated we check mobile devices a whopping 85 times every day. It may come of little surprise that research from the University of Arizona suggests your phone could harbor 10 times more bacteria than your toilet seat.
Speaking to a publication, Emily Martin an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan explained: “Because people are always carrying their cell phones even in situations where they would normally wash their hands before doing anything, cell phones do tend to get pretty gross.”
A study from the University of Surrey found that, in particular, bacteria is frequently found where the ‘home’ button is on your phone.
But will your phones make you sick?
She tells the publication that – despite the amount germs found on your phone – you’re unlikely to fall ill because of them. The majority of microbes and natural bacteria found on your skin, which get transferred to your phone, won’t make you sick. Staphylococcus epidermis, for example, might be present – but it won’t leave you with an infection.
Problems arise if you enter an environment where you could pick up harmful bacteria on to your hands and transfer them to your phone, e.g. public spaces and transport, or if you are ill and share your phone with a friend and vice versa.
Professor Martin warns that taking your phone to the toilet is a massive no-no, because when toilets flush they spread germs everywhere – including fecal bacteria, such as E. coli. She likens it to not washing your hands after using the loo.
Another study conducted by BuzzFeed suggests that the amount of pathogenic bacteria (i.e. the potential disease-causing bacteria) found on phones is relatively low and won’t cause much risk in young and healthy adults – so no need to panic.
How to clean your phone
However, it is advisable to practice good hygiene. The experts suggest wiping your phone clean every couple of weeks, either with a wipe/cleaner specially designed for smartphones or a 40:60 alcohol-to-water solution and a cloth.
But the biggest hygiene tip of all? Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes and mouth if you haven’t had chance to give them a rinse.