How Germy Is Your Cell Phone?
Your iPad may have smudges, but at least it’s light on germs. Phones with buttons and keys are more contaminated than touchscreens and tablets, finds a new study from University College London.
Researchers examined the phones of health care workers for microorganisms and potentially hazardous pathogens. While 24 percent of the push-button phones tested positive for bacteria capable of causing skin rashes, respiratory disease, or food poisoning, the contamination rate dropped to just 3 percent among the touchscreen devices, the study finds.
Unlike touchscreens, phones with buttons and keypads have irregular surfaces that harbor bacteria and make cleaning more difficult, explains study coauthor Pallavi Pal, M.D. Traditional push-button laptops and mp3 devices are also more likely to be germy compared to their smooth, touchscreen counterparts, Dr. Pal says, citing past research.
While touchscreens are less likely to be germ ridden, you should still consider cleaning your phone, Dr. Pal says. Wiping your phone thoroughly with disinfectant wipes at least once a week will do the job, she adds. Just make sure you’re not spraying any liquids directly on to your phone, which could damage the speakers, earpiece, or other components, according to germ experts.