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Cell Phone Hygiene

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Today’s world is filled with people of all ages using cell phones.  The average American checks their cell phone 47 times per day, and every time you touch your cell phone you are transferring bacteria from your hands to your phone.  Most people don’t give a second thought to using their cell phone everywhere including the restroom, which is one of the worst places to use it.  Every time a toilet flushes it spreads germs everywhere.  Even if you wash your hands before leaving the bathroom, once you leave and touch your phone again it’s like you didn’t wash your hands after using the restroom.

Studies have found that phones have 10x more bacteria on them than an average toilet seat and 18x more harmful bacteria than the bathroom door handle.  E coli, MRSA, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus can be a few of the more serious germs lurking on your phone.  Although having these microbes on your phone won’t necessarily make you sick, you don’t want them entering your system.  Sharing your phone with others also increases your risk significantly.

The oils and bacteria on your phone can also cause skin outbreaks.  When you press the phone up against your skin you are allowing bacteria to get into your pores.

Cellphones won’t be going away anytime soon so how can we protect ourselves?  Good handwashing throughout the day and especially after using the restroom is a key starting point.   Not taking your cell phone into the bathroom with you is another.  Limit sharing your phone and letting others handle it while showing off your pictures.  When it comes to cleaning your phone, that microfiber cloth that probably came with your phone is a good starting place.  If your phone didn’t come with one or you have no idea what happened to it, you can pick one up at any drug store.  The dry cloth will remove fingerprints, oils and other smudges from your screen without scratching the surface like a paper towel can.  Wipe your phone down vigorously until the screen is clear of any reside.  Microfiber cloths will remove a substantial amount of bacteria from your phone but they won’t disinfect your phone.

Apple and other manufacturers warn against using any kind of cleaner that is not the microfiber cloth, so disinfecting your device can be tricky.  Health and electronics experts advise wiping down your mobile device with a moist microfiber cloth for basic sanitation and upkeep. Key word being “moist”.  NEVER spray liquid directly onto electronic devices.  Keep any moisture coming in contact with your phone to a minimum.

To clean his own mobile devices, Mr. Meister at the Geek Squad said he uses a 1:1 ratio of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and distilled water, which together cost less than $4 at most grocery and drugstores. “You want distilled water and purer alcohol so there are fewer chemicals or minerals left behind when the solution evaporates,” he said.

Fill a spray bottle with the diluted alcohol, lightly moisten a lint-free, preferably microfiber, cloth (no paper towels) and gently wipe down the screen and case. Never spray directly onto the device. To clean corners and around ports, use lint-free foam rather than cotton Q-tips.

If you are looking for a more convenient way to disinfect your phone, Bausch and Lomb as well as other manufacturers make individual cleaning wipes that state they are for electronics such as cameras, laptops, cellphones and eyeglasses.  Just be sure that wipes you purchase contain a disinfecting agent.