Longevity logo

10 Things Your Phone Is Dirtier Than & How to Keep It Clean

Some of the things your phone is dirtier than might just shock and revolt you.

By Nicola P. YoungPublished 5 years ago 7 min read

In the technological age, your cellphone may be the one item you touch most often in your life. No, you probably don't make a habit of rubbing it in a cat's litter box or dropping it in the toilet (though I'm sure that's happened to some of us). Nevertheless, for an item that spends most of its time on your person, touching your hands and face, it may shock you how many things your phone is dirtier than that you would generally never touch with a 10-foot pole. This isn't to say, however, that there is something inherently unsanitary about phones—in fact, there are plenty of ways to keep yourself healthy and reduce your exposure to potentially threatening bacteria by simply being cognizant of the ways your phone gets so dirty.

There's also no real cause for alarm: With a good understanding of how bacteria works and travels, and the real risk for getting sick from it, you can avoid the detriments of an unhygienic phone.

Toilet Seats

Photo by Gabor Monori on Unsplash

When people say that one of the things your phone is dirtier than is a toilet seat, readers and listeners tend to have one of three reactions: "ew," "I don't believe that," or "Well, sure, we clean our toilet seats regularly." The latter response indicates at least a basic understanding of the issue regarding phone hygiene: For the average cell phone user, you touch your phone countless times a day, exposing it to every germ you could come in contact with; but unlike you hands, clothes, and body, your phone doesn't get regular washings. A report from Mashable estimated that the average cellphone has 25,000 germs per square inch. Studies in clinical microbiology have shown that toilet seats may actually be one of the more sanitary things we come in contact with, possibly with an even lower germ-per-square-inch count than your hands on a regular day. So yes, your phone is almost definitely dirtier than a toilet seat, as many as 10 times dirtier than a toiler in fact, but that's not actually the most concerning hygiene fact you're about to find out.

Your Hands

Everyone in the world is telling everyone else to wash their hands constantly; your mother while you were growing up, the signs in public restrooms, various PSAs, and doctors during flu season included. This is always good advice—you never know when you've picked up a book from the library that had just been returned by a flu-ridden mess who left their germs all over it. He or she touches the book, you touch the book, you browse through Vocal on your phone before going to wash your hands, then you take a phone call...and voilà, you have the flu. Always make sure to keep your hands clean, especially after visiting public spaces like coffee shops, public transport, or anywhere else that you may inadvertently come into contact with these kinds of bacteria that cause illness. Every germ you come in contact with can easily be transferred from your hands to your phone, where they can then be transferred back to your hands or face and make you sick. Wash your hands.

Door Handles

Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

Do you ever go to the frozen section of the grocery store, grab the handle, and feel suddenly greasy or sticky? That's an icky feeling. Those handles, as you can probably already guess, are also things your phone is dirtier than. While toilet seat sanitation can be explained in general by frequent (or at least occasional) cleaning and disinfecting, door handles (whether at the store or in your home) are pretty germ-ridden for similar reasons that your phone might be. In public, hundreds to thousands of hands may touch those handles, one after another, without cleanings in between (or ever). Nevertheless, even these potential petri dishes of illness-inducing germs are less of a health hazard than your phone.

A Toilet Paper Roll

Okay, it's fine to leave your phone lying around on your bed, couch, or kitchen counter, but just about anywhere else has major potential to collect germs. Many people don't think twice about resting their phone on top of the toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom. Or their school desk. Or even dropping it on the street. In all these places and more though, your phone could be picking up some serious bacteria. In fact, it's because your phone goes with you so many places that there is such a surprising range of things your phone is dirtier than. By placing your phone in your pocket, or laying it on a sweater or paper towel if you have to set it on a public counter, you can protect yourself from some of these potentially harmful bacteria.

Your Pet's Mouth and Food Bowl

Photo by Valerie Elash on Unsplash

I have to be honest on this one, I have never had major concerns about letting my dog lick my face. I just can't resist that bundle of love. When you get a blast of that doggy breath though, it's a bit easier to remember that dogs don't exactly have a regular dental regimen. As a result, their mouths can be full of germs. Even grosser are their food and water bowls. If you ever look at the slobbery mess of food bits left in a dog bowl after a feast, you know that unique feeling of revulsion tempered by love. Nevertheless, your pet's food bowl (even if you don't clean it out that often) is actually one of the many things your phone is dirtier than. Of course, dog saliva is inherently antibacterial in many ways, so they have that going for them. That said, it probably won't do much for you.

Your Keyboard

Every time you press a button on your phone, you introduce new bacteria. And you touch your phone a lot. Many people spend a lot of time on their computers as well, and so your keyboard can also become a breeding ground for germs. Nevertheless, keyboards are generally used in fewer different places, and are closed up for travel. Your phone, on the other hand, is the one device that is almost always exposed to whatever germs and bacteria may be present in your environment. So, even though you might feel like you spend more time working on your computer, your phone takes the brunt of the bacteria.

Your Stovetop

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

I would bet there is some abandoned, molding stove top somewhere that falls above the average germ count for a cellphone. Those extreme cases are just that: extreme cases. Most stoves, unless you have a fantastic cleaning regimen, can get pretty nasty. Food bits fall down, soup boils over, you'll clean that up later...and later turns into a pretty nasty looking thing. That stove, however, still happens to be one of the things your phone is dirtier than. So if you put on gloves and make a face when you finally get around to tackling your kitchen messes, you should certainly reconsider your care and cleaning regimen when it comes to your cell phone.

Your Keys

Your keys go everywhere with you, and I'm guessing your average person doesn't take much time in his or her life to sanitize a set of keys. As a result, it would stand to reason that keys could become pretty infested with bacteria. However, the comparatively limited locales in which you might find your keys means that they are more insulated from bacteria than your cell phone, which goes everywhere for most people, and comes into contact with just about everything. So while you shouldn't go putting your keys in your mouth, it's still a lot less risky than the simple and normal act of putting your phone to your face.

The Checkout Stand

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

I don't know about you, but I always bag my produce before going through checkout. Sure, cashiers generally make a habit of wiping down the belt when there's a lull, but during peak hours, hundreds of customers could go through the checkout line, spilling pancake mix and cat litter onto the conveyor belt, touching everything, letting their kids put their weirdly sticky hands on it...that's not something I want to come into any kind of direct contact with. Nevertheless, even the checkout conveyor belt at a busy grocery store is most likely one of the things your phone is dirtier than. I still come into direct contact with that all the time; grocery shopping is kind of a necessity. So, just to reiterate...clean your phones, people! And definitely don't set them down on grocery store conveyor belts.

A Playground

There are few things more viscerally gross than a children's play area, like the structures at Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald's. They're greasy, and you just know that hundreds of children have rubbed their little hands and mouths over every inch of it. I personally won't go anywhere near them. Nevertheless, even these structures get cleaned and sanitized every now and again, especially if a kid gets sick on one. However, few disasters befall your cell phone that prompt a thorough cleaning, because most cell phone users just don't think about the number of germs it comes in contact with.

Moving on from the scary germ-infested things your phone is dirtier than and the many other things to keep in mind as you and phone navigate that world, let's talk about the easy solution: the Presidio Pro iPhone XS Max. Phone cases in general, of course, are not going to help you if they come in contact with germs. However, this particular case is designed with anti-microbial protection that will reduce the harmful bacteria that your phone could transmit to you (or that you transmitted to it...) by a huge amount. New case, new peace of mind.

product review

About the Creator

Nicola P. Young

Lover of Books, Saxophone, Blogs, and Dogs. Not necessarily in that order. Book blogger at heartofinkandpaper.com.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.