Why you should stop using mobile phones in the bathroom | technology

We take it everywhere with us (to bed, to the kitchen, to the bathroom) and it’s the first thing many of us see as soon as we open our eyes. Over 90% of humanity owns or uses cell phones on a daily basis, and it’s hard to imagine what life would be like without them. Health concerns around phone use often focus on the distractions it causes while driving, the potential effects of radio frequency exposure, or how addictive it is. And while the risk of getting germs from your phone is underestimated, it’s very real.

A 2019 survey found that in the UK, most people use their phones on the toilet. So it’s not surprising that recent studies have found that our cell phones are dirtier than the toilet seats themselves. And to top it off, we give our phones to kids (who aren’t exactly known for being clean) to play with. We also eat while we use them and put them on all kinds of surfaces, many of which are dirty. All of these can transfer microbes to the phone, along with food deposits that those microbes can ingest.

It is estimated that people touch their phones hundreds, if not thousands of times a day. And while many of us wash our hands regularly, for example, after using the bathroom, cooking, cleaning, or gardening, we are less likely to think about washing our hands after touching our phones.

Given how germy phones can get, it might be time to start thinking more about phone hygiene.

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Cell phones are full of germs, bacteria and viruses

Hands pick up bacteria and viruses all the time and are recognized as a pathway for infection. The same goes for the phones we touch. Numerous studies of the microbiological colonization of mobile phones have shown that they can be contaminated with various types of pathogenic bacteria.

of between it coli, which causes diarrhea (which, by the way, comes from human feces). he is too staphylococcus;that affects the skin. as well as Actinobacteria, which can cause tuberculosis and diphtheria. he Citrobacter, which can cause painful infections of the urinary tract; and the EnterococcusKnown to cause meningitis. Also, they are found KlebsiellaAnd micrococci;And ProteusAnd pseudo And streptococcus; On phones, all of which can have the same unpleasant effect on humans.

Recent research has found that many telepathic pathogens are often resistant to antibiotics, meaning they cannot be treated with conventional medications. This is worrisome, because the above bacteria can cause life-threatening skin, gut, and respiratory infections. Even if you clean your phone with antibacterial wipes or alcohol, microorganisms can repopulate it, which indicates that sanitizing should be a regular process.

Phones contain plastic that can harbor and transmit viruses. Some, including the common cold virus, can survive on hard plastic surfaces for up to a week. Other viruses, such as the virus that causes covid-19, rotavirus (a highly contagious germ that usually affects infants and young children), influenza (respiratory infections), and norovirus (acute intestinal infections) can persist in an infective form for several days.

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In fact, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting cell phones. Along with door handles, ATMs, and elevator buttons, they are reservoirs for infection.

In particular, concerns have been raised about the role cell phones can play in the spread of infectious microbes in hospitals and healthcare settings, as well as in schools.

Instructions for cleaning the phone

Obviously, we should start cleaning our phone regularly. In fact, the US Federal Communications Commission recommends daily sanitizing your phone and other devices, among other things because we are still in an active COVID-19 pandemic and the virus can survive for several days on hard plastic surfaces.

It is best to use alcohol-containing wipes or sprays. It should contain at least 70% alcohol to disinfect phone cases and touch screens, and should be used daily if possible.

Do not spray disinfectants directly on the phone, and keep liquids away from contact points or other openings on the device. Never use bleach or abrasive cleaners. And wash your hands well when you’re done cleaning.

Thinking about how we handle our phone will also help us prevent it from getting infected with germs. When you’re not home, keep it in your pocket or bag and use a disposable paper to-do list instead of constantly checking your phone. When you touch it, do so with clean hands, washed with soap and water or disinfected with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Make it a habit to put your phone away when not in use and to sanitize or wash your hands. You can also disinfect the charger occasionally when you clean it.


Primrose Friston Senior Lecturer in Clinical Microbiology, University of Leicester.

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This article was originally published Conversation.

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