Here's How Often You Should Really Be Cleaning Your Phone, Even If You're A Neat Freak

by Caroline Burke

If you're like me, then your phone is (for better or for worse) the focal point of your universe. It's how you connect with your friends, how you keep track of your life, and essentially, the most important thing you own, given how much you probably rely on the device day-to-day. So when you're using a phone this often, it's inevitable that it's going to get a little bit dirty. But have you ever wondered how often you should clean your phone, exactly?

The bad news is that your phone is statistically likely to be pretty freaking dirty — like, upsettingly dirty, even if you consider yourself to be a total clean freak. In fact, research conducted in 2012 at the University of Arizona revealed just how nasty your phone can be: According to the institution's findings, a cell phone can carry up to 10 times the amount of bacteria as a typical toilet seat. So yeah, that thing you hold up to your ear nonstop and place right by your face when you fall asleep? It's like a toilet seat, only worse. What's more, according to TIME, a range of creepy bacteria and pathogens have been known to collect on cell phones, including staph, MRSA, and E. coli.

I know this all sounds terrible, but there is a bit of good news to be found here: Cleaning your phone is a pretty easy, painless habit to add to your routine, so you don't have to feel like you're licking a toilet every time you answer your phone.

The easiest way to clean your phone is with a soft, microfiber cloth, TIME reports.

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Or, the outlet suggests, you can wipe the screen with a combination of 60 percent rubbing alcohol and 40 percent water. Of course, you don't want to damage your phone by soaking it, so if you do decide to go with this method, be sure to dip a paper towel or cloth into this liquid, lightly run over the surface of your screen, and dry everything off ASAP when you're done. Doing this once a month or so should be enough to keep your phone clean, TIME reports — unless you're sick, in which case, it's probably in your best interest to wipe it down more often so you can stay healthy.

But beyond simply cleaning your phone, you might want to pay more attention to where, and in what context, you're using your device most often. For example, if you take your phone out on your morning commute each day, you're allowing it to come into contact with all kinds of germs, so even though it's nasty to think about, you're basically holding a miniature, germ-filled subway car in your pocket. If that's too gross for you to handle, you might want to consider keeping your phone tucked in your bag when you're on the subway, or queuing up a playlist before you leave the apartment so you don't have to take it out at all during your commute.

Similarly, think about how often you take your phone into the bathroom with you.

TBH, I feel confident saying we're literally all guilty of doing this, at least from time to time, if not as an actual, daily habit. But you should know that, when you bring your phone into the bathroom, you're exposing the device to all kinds of germs that exist near your toilet — yes, like fecal matter, according to Health.

Being cognizant of where you bring your phone, and what you expose it to, is simply another way of making sure you're paying attention to what might be lurking on the surface, even if you can't see it. If anything, that awareness alone will likely make you want to clean your phone on a regular basis, which is always a good thing.

Of course, this isn't a five-alarm-fire type of emergency. Germs are unavoidable, and your hands constantly have an array of oils, germs, skin cells, and more covering them. Your phone isn't necessarily going to get you sick just because it's dirty. But still, the point is less about ensuring your phone is entirely germ-free (because, let's face it, that's impossible), and more about having a healthy awareness about how much your cell phone is really exposed to, and what you can do to minimize your contact with harmful bacteria that could get you sick.

Seriously, though, let's all make an executive decision right now to stop taking our phones into the bathroom. It's time, guys.