By Shari Chase

Sometimes I wish I was a cat. They’re cute, fluffy, agile, fiercely independent, curious and–did I mention–absolutely adorable. But, perhaps most importantly, cats are clean–like really clean and, as a slight germaphobe, I can’t help but think that they just might be living their best life.

Humans are disgusting. While harsh, we are pretty gross when you think about it, and although our icky functions may have scientific and necessary purposes, Grossology still makes my skin crawl.

Our distaste for “dirty things” usually helps us avoid the pathogens in our world. But despite our best intentions, there’s still a lot of filth that we generally overlook – one prime example being our phones. 

Sorry, But Your Phone Really Is That Dirty

Despite appearances, our phones are Petri dishes for germs. Their large touch screens often serve as a collecting point for bacteria because whatever microbes on your hands can find their way onto your phone. One company goes as far as to call your phone the “third hand that you never wash.”

Estimates say that your phone has approximately 25,127 bacteria per square inch. On its own, that number might not mean much, but in comparison to other surfaces, our phones are nasty. The number of bacteria on the average phone is three times that found on a dirty doorknob, and 18 times as much as in a public restroom. You can’t see these tiny little disease carriers, but they are living on your phone… and most likely multiplying every time you touch its surface. Eek!

No, It’s Not Okay

On average, we touch our phones approximately 2,617 times a day, yet if you ask most people they only occasionally, if ever, clean their phones. Some people will argue that phones may be dirty, but they don’t need consistent cleaning because bacteria is everywhere, and whatever is on your phone most likely won’t hurt you. However, there is always the chance that it can. 

The CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) classifies phones as “high-touch” surfaces, which have the potential to harbour infectious agents and should be cleaned regularly. Viruses, like the flu and COVID-19, can live on surfaces for lengthy amounts of time. While on the phone, the bacteria or viruses may be harmless, but the second they transfer to your hands or nose or mouth that’s a different story. From your mobile to your hand, to your body, and boom–you’re sick. 

Honestly, You Should Clean It every day

At this point, we can all agree that you should clean your phone, but there are probably still questions about how to do it, or how often. As for frequency, it’s best to clean it daily.

But, you should have a regular sanitising routine, at least twice a week, especially when there’s a heightened risk of catching a disease. You don’t need to do a deep-clean every day, but it’s a good practice to wipe your phone with a microfiber cloth daily. Here are some tips and tricks for keeping your phone clean.

The Daily Clean: One of the easiest ways to keep your phone clean is to simply wipe its surfaces with an antibacterial wipe. Additionally, keep in mind some general practices to keep your phone as clean as possible. For example, don’t use your phone in the bathroom (or other highly contaminated places), and keep it away from your food while cooking and eating to limit chances of cross-contamination.

The Deep Clean: To deep clean your phone, take off the case, polish it with a microfiber cloth, wipe everything down with a moist antibacterial cloth, clean the small areas with a cotton swab or toothpick, and then let it air dry. Alternatively, invest in an ultraviolet light sanitiser that kills bacteria without the use of excessive heat or moisture.

What Not to Do: Remember to take precautions to avoid damaging the screen or electronics. Avoid excess moisture, abrasive powders, harsh cleaners and solvents, and compressed air. It’s also recommended that you turn off your phone and make sure it’s unplugged, before attempting any sort of cleaning.

But above all, a clean phone means nothing if you still have dirty hands! Coronavirus has been a reminder of the importance of thorough handwashing and overall cleanliness. To help protect your health, you really should clean your phone every day.

A simple wipe down can go a long way to lowering your exposure to potentially harmful pathogens. If daily cleaning is not possible, adopting some of the cleaning methods mentioned, and being more aware of the hidden dangers that lie on your screen is a good start!