Why Your Smartphone Is Dirtier Than a Public Toilet

Gross, isn’t it? According to a recent study by Standford University, your smartphone is most likely filthier than a public toilet seat—Yet, you put your digital sidekick up to your face everyday without flinching or giving it a second thought. So, unless you sanitize your device regularly, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Several studies over the last few years have shown cellphones harbor one of the most active breeding grounds for germs that you’ll come in contact with on a day-to-day basis. Forget doorknobs, grocery baskets and the bottom on your shoes — Public enemy number one is sitting in your pocket, most likely increasing its numbers of pathogens at this very moment. One recent study* even found that “1-in-6 cellphones are contaminated with fecal matter.” That’s right. Poop — On your phone.

Why? The warmth of a smartphone’s interior is a germ-infested breeding ground and is a perfect environment for those pathogens as they’re kept cozy in our pockets or purses. Also, when is the last time you went somewhere without your phone? If you’re like most people, it’s with you from the minute you get up to the moment you call it a night. Even then, it’s still by your side recharging its battery. Think about that for a second. It goes with you to work, to eat…to the bathroom — Giving germs plenty of chances to hitch a ride.

Your iPhone or Droid, especially its display, is a germ magnet, collecting newcomers every time you touch something and then handle your phone, easily transferring them to your fingertips. So, every time you place your device next to your mouth you’re risking adding millions of germs to your face. Add to that a study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 2010 that said the average handset carries 18 times more potentially harmful germs than a flush handle on a men’s public toilet. Yikes.

Although your device can sometimes spread bacteria and contribute to you to becoming sick, you most likely have built up a decent tolerance and are safe. So before you go wrapping yourself in a protective bubble, follow these some simple suggestions to combat a dirty phone.

1)    Use Wipes – Clean your smartphone daily with an antimicrobial wipe that is non-corrosive. Look for an electronics specific brand.

2)    Swab It Down – If you have a keyboard or keypad, start cleaning it with a cotton swab dipped in diluted rubbing alcohol. Be careful not to rub too hard and not to get any rubbing alcohol inside the phone.

3)    Wash Your Hands – We may sound like your mom here, but dirty hands are the most common way that smart devices get to mingle with germs. So wash them several times throughout the day, especially after using the restroom. But remember, washing your hands will do no good if you aren’t wiping down your device first.

For a fun, short quiz to see approximately how many germs are living on your phone, visit www.theoatmeal.com/quiz/phone_germs

Two Apps To Check Out

Once you’re done freaking out over just how dirty your phone is (sorry about bursting that bubble) I’d like to introduce you to some hot applications that look to be the next big things in the world of smart devices. Plus, it’ll give you something other than germs to talk about with friends.

Viddy – A simple way for anyone to capture, beautify, and share amazing videos with the world. Capture key moments of your life, instantly produce it into a beautiful video, and share it with those who matter most.” (iPhone only. Coming soon for Android & Windows 7. Free.) www.viddy.com

Thoughts – Consider this Twitter, but in video form. We are fans of this app and it is catching on like crazy…Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg signed up for an account. Of course, there are similar alternatives like Tout, which lets you capture short 15-second video status updates.

Highlight – If someone standing near you also has Highlight, his or her profile will show up on your phone. You can see their name, photos of them, mutual friends, and anything else they have chosen to share. When you meet someone, Highlight helps you see what you both have in common. And when you forget their name at a party a week later, Highlight helps you remember it.

Thoughts – Unless you like staying off the grid, Highlight is a social butterfly’s dream. It makes sure you always have a buddy on hand when you’re looking for an adventure. Unfortunately, like other similar apps, this one can drain your phone’s battery and there isn’t an Android version yet. Not everyone will feel comfortable with an app like this. Also, some people claim this is a stalker’s dream as well, so be careful with what you share and make public. (iPhone only. Free.) www.highlig.ht

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