One of the most intimate relationships you have is with your phone. It goes everywhere with you. It brushes up against strangers' sleeves on your commute to work, sits on the corner of your desk in class, rests in your lap at the dinner table. You’ve probably texted on the toilet, too. As a result, phones, especially phone screens, are kind of a breeding ground for germs, but how many times can you honestly say you’ve cleaned your phone since you took it out of its original packaging? Do you even know how to clean your phone? It’s definitely not something I’ve personally ever really thought much about, so don't feel bad if you haven't, either. But yeah, maybe it's high time we started, since you know, you put that ish on your face. Just let that sink in for a sec.
In order to gain a little insight as to just how many germs are swarming the average smartphone, I did a quick internet search and came across a study published in the journal Germs (appropriate, don’t you think?), in which researchers tested 27 cell phones that belonged to students between 16 and 18 years old. According to the study, the back, front, touch screen, and keypad of the phones were tested for bacteria, and the results showed that not only was every phone contaminated, more than 20 different types of bacteria were identified.
But wait, it gets worse: More than 17,000 bacteria particles were found on each phone. That’s 17,000 bacteria particles your fingers brush all day every day, and 17,000 particles that rest on your cheek when you take a phone call. And, in case you were wondering, per TIME’s report of the study, that’s 10 times more bacteria than the average toilet. I feel queasy just thinking about it.
But, I mean, if you think about it, how often do you clean your toilet bowl, compared to how often you clean your cell phone? Probably a heck of a lot more because toilets are obviously associated with waste and germs, while you probably only associate your phone with social media and Wi-Fi passwords. It’s not trashy, it’s technology, right? Evidently, wrong. So, so wrong.
If by some chance you’re still not catching my drift, Jennifer Gregory, brand manager of the Neighborly cleaning service franchise Molly Maid, will tell it to you straight: Phones are “magnets for germs and bacteria,” she tells Elite Daily in an email.
In terms of how often you should clean your phone, that'll ultimately depend on your day-to-day habits. For instance, if you take your phone into the bathroom with you, Gregory suggests cleaning it weekly or every other week. “If you don’t take your phone into your home’s or public restrooms,” she explains, “cleaning it once a month should suffice.”
However, according to the results of a 2018 survey from the UK company Mattress Online, which looked into all kinds of germs that can lurk around in your home, 55 percent of those surveyed said they never clean their phone, and that they're prone to breakouts. Coincidence? Science thinks not, considering bacteria build-up is definitely a cause of acne.
So now that you know how often you should be cleaning your phone, the question is, what’s the right way to go about it? Well, there are a few different routes you can take. For starters, Gregory says she’s a fan of wiping phones down with microfiber cloths. All you have to do is dampen the material with clean water, and this simple solution removes up to 99 percent of bacteria, she explains.
You can also clean your phone using a cleaning solution, Gregory adds, like the ones found in household cleaning products, but this method is a little trickier. First, you fill up a small spray bottle with equal parts distilled water and 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. Next, Gregory tells Elite Daily, dampen a microfiber cloth with the solution, but be very careful not to let the moisture leak into any ports, speakers, or microphones, as this could cause damage.
Or, you can take a shortcut and purchase a few go-to products, like an antimicrobial phone case that kills germs as soon as they make contact with your screen, or a UV-light phone sterilizer, which sanitizes your device in a matter of minutes.
Whatever solution you settle on, start cleaning your phone regularly and ASAP, because 17,000 is one number you don't need saved.