As tempting as it might be to grab a friend’s phone and help her swipe through Tinder matches, or even check up on your significant other’s text history, you may want to think twice next time you’re within reach of someone else’s phone. No, not because snooping is bad — although, really, you shouldn’t creep on your partner’s cell — but because in terms of germs, cell phones are the new hotel room remotes.
Just think about it: As a society, we carry our phones everywhere. They’re with us in bed. They’re with us at work, at school, and in our cars. They’re even with us in the bathroom. (Don’t lie, we’ve all done the sit-and-scroll.) Guess that explains why one out of every six smartphones is contaminated with fecal matter! Yep. That is so, so gross, but so, so true — a 2011 study done in London confirmed it.
In fact, researchers have shown that the typical office desk (aka, the probable resting place for your phone throughout the day) has 100 times more bacteria on it the typical office toilet seat. OK, now I’m officially disturbed.
So, what is it that makes phones so prone to germs? “We touch more surfaces than any generation in history, from ATM machines to self-checkout counters,” Dr. Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, told USA Today in regards to a University-conducted study on the subject. According to him, we pick up germs from these surfaces via our hands and fingers, where they’re transferred to our smartphones. From there, the germs can make their way into our eyes, nose, mouth, and ears as we make calls, text, or even handle our AirPods.
Washing your hands doesn’t fix the problem. You kind of, sort of, might as well not wash your hands at all, honestly… as Gerba puts it, “You get a germ on your hand, and you use your phone. Then you go wash your hands later, but the germs are still on your phone.” It’s a vicious cycle.
Simply put, cell phones are some of the most germ-filled surfaces in our lives. And while it’s bad enough to repeatedly expose yourself to your own colony of collected germs (Americans apparently check their phones an average of once every 12 minutes — which adds up to a lot of bacteria contamination), you definitely don’t want to come into contact with someone else’s.
So, what should you do about it? For one, stop handling other people’s devices. For example: If someone asks you to put your number into their phone, ask them to recite theirs out loud instead, and shoot them a text from yours. Polite, efficient, and germ-free.
Next, it’s a good idea to decontaminate your phone daily — maybe even multiple times a day. The most natural way to do this is to prepare a mixture of 50 percent water and 50 percent white vinegar. Combine them in a small spray bottle, spritz onto a microfiber cloth, and use it to wipe down your phone whenever the mood strikes. The vinegar safely kills bacteria and keeps your phone screen clean.
Finally, invest in a PhoneSoap sanitizer tool. This gadget uses UV light to zap 99.9 percent of bacteria, and even has a handy cut-away for your charger — so you can plug your phone in overnight to charge and sanitize at the same time, while you sleep like a baby knowing your phone is clean as can be.
Photo Credit: @holditbrand