Photo: John Voo
If you are reading this on a phone, I have bad news for you. Your phone can be a petri dish of germs. It has 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats, one University of Arizona microbiologist found.
How does our phone get dirtier than a toilet? We take and check it everywhere. We check it up to 47 times a day, on average. We thoughtlessly take it out as we hold dirty subway poles, as we munch crumbly food, and even as we go to the toilet. That’s how we transfer infectious germs from our screen to our hands. When you pull out your phone in the bathroom, you’re potentially exposing it to fecal bacteria like E. coli there.
We should be paying the same level of concern to cleaning our screens as we already do to washing our hands in bathrooms, germ experts warn.
You should be cleaning your phone daily
The need for cleaning will vary depending on your phone use, but if you’re using it daily in between meals and bathroom breaks, and are healthy, cleaning it daily is good advice. That’s one microbiologist’s take.
“I clean mine twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening,” Philip Tierno, a clinical professor of microbiology and pathology at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine, told Time.
One of these easiest ways to do it is with a clean soft microfiber cloth that will remove most of the germs. If you want to get fancier and do a deeper clean into the nooks and crannies of your screen, dip that cloth in a combination of 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol.
Our phones may not look like disease-carriers, but we hold them to our vulnerable faces all day long. Building a daily habit of wiping the screen is an easy way to avoid letting our phones get the best of us.