Pop quiz! What would you rather have next to your face? Your toilet seat or your smartphone?
Tough choice. (Not.) But what if I told you that in most cases, you’re better off choosing the toilet seat?
Think about it. How often do you clean your toilet? Every day? Once a week? Fair enough. Now, when was the last time you cleaned your smartphone? I bet you can’t remember, can you? No worries, I can’t either, and I’ve only just swiped mine with antibacterial wipes after I wrote the previous sentence.
Back in 2013, British researchers swabbed 30 phones and an office toilet seat, and found up to 140 units of the severe stomach sickness-causing staphyloccocus (staph for short) on the phones. They found less than 20 units on the average toilet seat.
Why? It’s mostly because a lot of us bring our phones EVERYWHERE: from our morning commute (well, music does make the trip more bearable) to lunch with our colleagues and then to the toilet, all without washing our hands in between. Combine that with mobile phone users checking their phone 47 times a day on average, and you’ve got plenty of opportunities for all sorts of nasty bacteria to move from your grubby, unwashed fingers to your phone.
So, unless you’re one of the few who regularly wipe smartphone surfaces down, you’re probably transmitting God-only-knows-what into your body every time you pick up the phone to text (bonus points if you tend to do this while eating) or call someone (think about how close those germs are to your face. Ick!).
What can we do to prevent our digital leashes from turning into cesspools of dirt and disease? For starters, DON’T USE YOUR PHONE IN THE BATHROOM.
Look, I get it. Some of us might take a while when we do a number 2, so we tend to rely on the various games and apps installed on our phones to keep ourselves entertained, but consider this: whenever you flush the toilet, you spread all sorts of germs into the air. This is precisely how fecal (that’s a fancy word for “crap,” btw) bacteria like E.Coli makes it past the toilet and onto any available surface like, oh, the screen of your smartphone as you continue playing Everwing or Clash of Clans, for instance.
Apart from keeping your phone out of the bathroom (just read the shampoo or body wash bottles in there if you’re really bored), wipe your phone screen down with a soft microfiber cloth a few times a month. This will remove much of the bacteria on there, but if you really want to be thorough, dip the cloth in a mixture of 60% water and 40% rubbing alcohol prior.
You don’t have to wipe your phone every day, although you should remember to do so if you’ve been sick or if someone who is borrowed your phone for a bit. (Just be sure not to wipe in front of them so they don’t get offended.)
But if you’re, I dunno, a Kardashian or a Jenner or one of those Hadid girls, and you absolutely need to take selfies or Snapchats while taking a dump to promote your newest product (Toilet paper? Diet laxatives? I give up), then be sure to wash your hands frequently.
Actually, scrap that. Social media influencer or not, let’s all practice regular hand washing and keep our dirty phones off the table, shall we?