There are 10 times more bacteria on your phone than on the toilet seat

Probably one of the most germicidal items in your house is in your hand or pocket right now: your phone.

A study published last year in the journal Scientific Reports analyzed the phones of 26 hospital staff members. In all, they found 1,307 different strains of bacteria, not to mention a vast collection of pathogenic fungi, viruses, and bacteriophages.

Of course, healthcare workers are at greater risk of being exposed to a range of pathogens due to their risky work environment. However, it is evident that even the average person’s phone is infested with many different types of potentially pathogenic bacteria. In 2011, scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary found that up to 16% of phones contain significant levels of E. coli, a common food poisoning germ found in feces.

Along with E. colithe most common bacteria found on phones are:

  • Staphylococcus, a ubiquitous pathogen that commonly causes staph skin infections.
  • Actinobacteria, a large family of bacteria that can cause tuberculosis, diphtheria, and bacterial vaginosis
  • Citrobacter, which can cause urinary tract infections, sepsis and meningitis.
  • Enterococci, which can cause various infections, including meningitis.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are also surprisingly common on smartphones. Another study using mobile phones from healthcare workers found that multidrug-resistant bacteria were present in 69.9% of the samples. This is all as disgusting as it sounds. According to a study by the University of Arizona, Phones contain ten times more bacteria than most toilet seats.

Why are the phones so dirty?

You might be curious as to how phones are becoming a busy breeding ground for pathogens. A 2018 poll found that three out of four people in the United States admit to using their phone in the restroom. We’re sure you can imagine the rest.

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It’s estimated that the average person touches, swipes, and clicks their phone’s screen 2,617 times a day. For heavy users, that number doubles to 5,427 daily touches. Between one touch and the next, our hands are constantly picking up new microbes by touching handrails, shaking hands, pressing elevator buttons, etc.

So could you get sick because of your phone? Research suggests that this is possible. It’s definitely enough to make you want to put your phone down while you eat a sandwich. But no fear. Despite all of this knowledge, keeping your phone clean and relatively germ-free is pretty easy.

First, remove any remaining dirt with a soft, lint-free cloth, then wipe with 70% isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol kills the most pesky pathogens and should evaporate before it gets inside the device.

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