Can your mobile phone make you sick?
Can I get sick from my mobile phone?
Bathroom door handles and shopping trolleys are not the only places germs lurk, your mobile phone could be an effective germ haven too. Your phone comes into contact with hands — both yours and potentially others — many times during the day, so it is likely to harbour plenty of germs.
One study looking at 27 mobile phones belonging to high school students in Europe found a median of 17,032 bacterial 16S rRNA gene copies (an estimate of bacterial abundance) per phone. Another study looked at the phones of 50 adults and found samples of six different types of bacteria on 46% of the phones.
While this doesn’t mean you’re going to get an infection from mobile phones, it certainly highlights the need to keep your phones clean when trying to reduce the risk of infection in your home.
How do I keep my mobile germ free?
There are ways you can reduce the number of germs likely to make themselves at home on your mobile. Here are our top tips for keeping your phone, and you, away from germs:
- Regularly wipe down your mobile’s surface — To keep your mobile phone as germ‐free as possible, disinfect the surface regularly. Seventy per cent isopropyl alcohol wipes may be suitable to wipe the exterior surfaces of your phone. Check with your phone manufacturer for further advice.
- Go hands-free — To limit your exposure to phone surfaces go hands‐free whenever possible.
- Avoid sharing your mobile phone— Avoid lending your phone to other people, especially if you know they are sick. If you must share it, make sure you clean the surface afterwards.
- Keep your phone out of the bathroom — When you flush the toilet, bacteria can become airborne. Keeping your phone out of the bathroom will help reduce your phone’s exposure to these bacteria.
- Be careful where you place your phone — Be mindful of where you put your phone down, especially in public places. Either keep it in a pocket or bag.
- Wash your hands regularly— A great way to avoid transferring germs from your phone to your mouth, eyes or nose is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently during the day, including before and after using your phone. Ensure you use soap and water or an alcohol‐based sanitiser, and teach your children to do the same.
While we are all now encouraged to wash our hands more frequently during the day to reduce the risk of infection, taking the time to clean our phones as well can also help reduce the spread of microbes and help keep nasty bugs out of your home.
MAT-AU-2203391. Dec 2022.
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