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The Dirty Cell Phone: 25,127 Bacteria per Square Inch

Multicultural group of friends using cellphones - Students sitting in a row and typing on the smartphones

All of us know that we need to wash our hands regularly to keep germs at bay. But do we ever stop to think about cleaning our cell phones? According to Seattle Times journalist Bobby Caina Calvan, your phone is covered in germs: 25,127 bacteria per square inch, to be precise. This makes cell phones one of the dirtiest objects we come in contact with every day. In fact, when compared to other items that are infamously “dirty,” cell phones take the lead—by far. Last year, Mashable.com put together a little video that compared the number of bacteria covering cell phones to bacteria covering toilet seats, kitchen counters, pet food dishes, checkout screens, and doorknobs. This is what they reported:

  • Toilet seat: 1,201 bacteria per square inch
  • Kitchen counter: 1,736 bacteria per square inch
  • Pet food dish: 2,110 bacteria per square inch
  • Checkout screen: 4,500 bacteria per square inch
  • Doorknob: 8,643 bacteria per square inch

The point: cell phones harbor more than three times the number of germs that dirty doorknobs do. Think about that next time you hold that thing up to your face!

So what do you do? Well, for starters, keep washing your hands (or start, if you don’t do so regularly). But second, clean your phone. Some recommend disposable wipes made to clean and disinfect cell phone surfaces, but you can also clean your phone with a gentile cloth—not a paper towel that may scratch your phone—dampened with a mix of 60% water and 40% isopropyl alcohol. If you’re high-tech, a gadget that pulses UV light to destroy surface bacteria might be your thing. Whatever method you choose, remember to clean your phone regularly to keep bacteria far from you!

Aubrey Pontious

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