Cellphones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats, says Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, in a recent TODAY Health article. "When's the last time you cleaned your cellphone?" he asks.
When the comic below crossed my desk, I had a little chuckle, assuming that it contained a germ of truth. Most people would probably assume the same, that our phones are continuously picking up microbes through everyday use.
However, the comic did arouse my curiosity enough to want to get the dirt on just how grimy our phones actually are. A cursory search quickly produced some disquieting, nauseating information.
In one UK study, for example, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London found that 92% of mobile phones are contaminated with bacteria and that one in six mobile phones are contaminated with—ugh!—fecal matter. Even more worrying, fecal E. coli bacteria—which can be fatal—was found on 16% of the phones. (Read more about the study here.) Although I do religiously wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before handling food (really, I do!), I did find my mind drifting back to the cooking app I was using yesterday to help me make meatballs…
Back in 2007, Wired Magazine reported a study that found that our phones are filthier than the bottom of a shoe, which is pretty filthy. "The irradiated warmth of a cellphone’s interior is a vile, germ-infested bath loaded with more pathogens than any surface in your home."
However, according to Gerba, the amount of germs on a phone isn't a problem—it’s the sharing of phones between people that is. Without sharing, each phone carries just one set of germs, and won't get its owner sick, he said… Except that I wouldn't put my face to a toilet seat, even if I was the only person ever to use it!
So, until I find a better way to sanitize my phone, I'll be giving it a regular once-over with antibacterial wipes! Please share!