How Dirty Is your Cell Phone?

Scientists have discovered that cell phones carry ten times more bacteria than most toilet seats. 

“Mobile phones have become veritable reservoirs of pathogens as they touch faces, ears, lips and hands of different users of different health conditions,” researchers observed in a 2009 study of bacteria removed from personal calling devices.

A review of 56 studies examined the risk of cellphones being contaminated with bacteria, fungi or viruses. The investigations were conducted across 24 countries between 2006 and 2019.

The review shows “that mobile phones not only carry bacteria but also viruses, fungi, and protozoa in the thousands,” said study author Lotti Tajouri, an associate professor of genomics and molecular biology at Bond University in Queensland, Australia.

On average, the review found that 68% of the mobile phones had been contaminated with a wide range of microorganisms. And some of those contaminants showed resistance to standard antibiotics.

Other studies have found serious pathogens on smartphones such as Streptococcus, MRSA – which is a type of bacteria that is resistant to several antibiotics – and even E. coli. 

“Touch screens on our devices are an often overlooked source of microbes that can be brought into our personal space,” noted Dr. David Westenberg, associate professor of biological sciences at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

While many of these are harmless, according to Westenberg, there are also disease-causing organisms that can survive on surfaces long enough to be transmitted to you or another person.

Should I clean my phone?

The average person touches their cellphone a staggering 2,617 times every day according to a 2019 survey by research firm dscout, .

In light of this fact, Westenberg said wiping down the touch screens and cases of our phones “should be a part of our routine.”

How to clean your phone

Many manufacturers, including Apple, have provided recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While specific instructions may vary depending on your device, Apple is advising the following for its products:

  • Unplug all power sources, devices, and cables.
  • Avoid excessive wiping.
  • Don’t allow moisture to get into any openings.
  • Avoid aerosol sprays, bleaches, and abrasives.
  • Avoid spraying cleaners directly onto your device.

Apple recommends the use of 70+ percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down any hard, nonporous surfaces (avoid using on leather or fabric to prevent damage).

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