We all know that smartphones attract germs. More and more, people are being told they need to clean their phones. So… just how dirty are they, and should we really be concerned? 

Last year, a team of Estonian doctors investigated the bacterial levels of phones held by teenagers at a high school. They found a high level of bacterial contamination (over 17,000 microbes!) on each mobile device. These results were similar to a University of Arizona’s discovery that the average phone has 10x the bacteria as a toilet seat. 

That’s… not great.

Quantity vs. Type of Pathogen

The human body carries many organisms that don’t always get you sick. In fact, Staph and Streptococcus organisms live in abundance on our hands and skin. In a recent Time Magazine interview Emily Martin, a professor at the University of  Michigan School of Public Health, remarked that most of the organisms found on phones are not pathogens that will make you sick.

So although there are tens of thousands of little bugs running around on your phone…you probably don’t have to freak out. For the general public it isn’t the quantity of bugs you should be concerned about. Rather, it is what type of bug is ending up on your phone.

Types of Bacteria in Different Environments

It should come as no surprise that your environment dictates what type of bacteria will end up on your devices.  So while the high school students in Estonia may have phones with 10x the bacteria of a toilet seat, they’re probably going to be okay.

Yet you should have some concern when making your next trip to the hospital. A British study found that over 38% of hospital mobile phones contained at least one bacterial species. These are bugs that can cause diarrhea and blood infections. Another study found 81% of staff devices contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. These mobile phones contained Staph, E. Coli and a number of other pathogens.                                                                     

The Bottom Line

If you’re using your phone at home or in daily errands you’re probably going to be okay.

But if you spend time in a healthcare or food processing environment – where more dangerous pathogens can be more easily picked up – you’ll want to sanitize your phone effectively and regularly.


To learn about CleanSlate UV’s mobile device sanitizer for healthcare, and what makes CleanSlate UV the most effective tabletop sanitizer on the market, please visit our website at www.cleanslateuv.com.

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Scott Mason is the Chief of Business Development and Co-Founder of CleanSlate UV.