Oh Good – Using Your Phone On The Toilet Could Be Dangerous For Your Health

Be honest, when did you last clean your phone?
Arisara_Tongdonnoi via Getty Images

It’s fair to say that a lot of us are in a codependent relationship with our mobile phones. They come with us to bed, to the kitchen and for 57% of Brits, they even come with us to the toilet.

Who can blame us? We have all the information in the world available at our fingertips and, well, if we’re being honest with ourselves, TikTok.

It’s an easy, enjoyable way to pass the time. You might even be reading this on the toilet right now!

However, this habit is actually really quite harmful and Primrose Freestone, a senior lecturer in Clinical Microbiology at the University of Leicester, is urging mobile phone users to think more about ‘mobile phone hygiene’.

Mobile Phones Can Be Contaminated With Pathogenic Bacteria

Most people wash their hands numerous times throughout the day. After going to the bathroom, after handling food, after being outside. This is good practice but if you’re not cleaning your phone regularly, you could still be putting your health at risk, especially considering that heavy phone users touch their phones on average 5,427 times a day.

Primrose Freestone also urges people to consider how often we hand our phones to our children and place them on unclean surfaces throughout the day adding that these can ‘transfer microbes onto your phone along with food deposits for those microbes to eat’.

Studies show that our phones can be contaminated with bacteria that can be very harmful to humans. These include:

  • E-Coli (which comes from human poo!)
  • Skin infection Staphyloccocus
  • Actinobacteria - which can cause tuberculosis
  • Citrobacter - which can lead to urinary tract infections
  • Enterococcus - which can cause meningitis

Additionally, the pathogens found on phones are often antibiotic-resistant, meaning that they can’t be treated with conventional drugs.

How To Practice Good Mobile Phone Hygiene

Now, you don’t need to tell us or anybody else how often you clean your phone but if it’s anything less than daily, according to the US Federal Communications Commission, it’s not enough. This, Primrose adds, is especially pertinent given that we’re still living with Covid-19 and the virus can survive on hard plastic surfaces for several days.

For good mobile phone hygiene, Primrose recommends that you:

  • Use alcohol-based wipes or sprays. They need to be at least 70% alcohol to effectively disinfect phone casings and touch screens and this should be done daily.
  • Do not spray sanitisers directly onto the phone and keep liquids away from connection points or other phone openings
  • Do not use bleach or abrasive cleaners
  • Wash your hands after cleaning your phone
  • When you’re not at home, keep your phone in your pocket or bag
  • Consider using paper shopping lists and to-do lists rather than constantly consulting your phone
  • Touch your phone with clean hands
  • Don’t share your phone with others if you have an infection or haven’t first sanitised it
  • Sanitise right after letting a child use your phone
  • Put your phone away when not in use

Maybe all of this will help us curb our dependency on our phones which can only be a good thing since 55% of us can’t get through dinner without scrolling!