Oh well, using your phone on the toilet could be a health hazard

It’s fair to say that many of us have a codependent relationship with our cell phones. They come with us to bed, to the kitchen and for 57% of Brits, they also come with us to the bathroom.

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 a simple and fun way to pass the time. You might as well be reading it on the toilet right now!

However, this habit is actually 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 a good practice, but if you don’t clean your phone regularly, you could still be putting your health at risk, especially considering that heavy phone users tap their phones an average of 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 dirty surfaces throughout the day adding that these can “you transfer microbes to your phone along with food deposits for those microbes to eat.”

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

  • E-Coli (which comes from human poop!)

  • Staphylococcus skin infection

  • 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 resistant to antibiotics, meaning they can’t be treated with conventional medications.

How to practice good cell phone hygiene

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

For good mobile phone hygiene, Primrose recommends:

  • Use alcohol-based wipes or sprays. They must contain at least 70% alcohol to effectively disinfect phone casings and touch screens and this should be done daily.

  • Do not spray disinfectants directly on the phone, and keep liquids away from connection points or other openings on the phone

  • 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 purse

  • Consider using paper shopping lists and to-do lists rather than constantly consulting your phone

  • Touch the phone with clean hands

  • Don’t share your phone with others if you have an infection or haven’t disinfected it first

  • Disinfect immediately after allowing a child to use the phone

  • Put your phone away when you’re not using it

Perhaps all of this will help us curb our addiction to our phones, which can only be a good thing since 55% of us can’t make it through dinner without swiping!


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