How dirty are your gadgets?

How dirty are your gadgets?

Have you ever stopped and thought about all the germs, food residue, fingerprints and goop that are living on your gadgets? Probably not; and you probably don’t really want to know.

Let’s start with your cell phone. A study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reveals that one out of six phones is contaminated with fecal substance. Had enough?

Your keyboard and computer mouse at work are like magnets attracting anything and everything you have touched. One microbiologist, Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona, says that keyboards are nearly five times filthier than a toilet seat.

How about your tablet? One British study compared the amount of Staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria that can cause staph infections, found on a tablet, toilet seat and a smartphone. To test these items, researchers swabbed 30 individual products of each. Results showed there were on average 600 units of the bacteria on a tablet, 140 on a phone and less than 20 on a toilet seat.

Earbuds – the tiny headphones that are placed in your ears to listen to music or your favorite book at the gym, taking a walk or just sitting by the pool. No harm there? Researchers say that ear wax, sweating and other air and dust particles can cause a build-up of bacteria in these earbuds.

Television remotes and other controls are also harboring away bacteria. A study from the Virginia School of Medicine uncovered that 30 percent of remotes examined had cold virus bacteria.

So what can you do?
Donna Currie, the director of clinical outcomes at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill., says there are steps you can take to reduce these bacteria on your devices.

Hand washing is the best prevention step,” Currie says. “If your hands are clean, you will reduce the spread of germs and bacteria from device to device.”

Currie says to also be more mindful of where you set and use your devices.

“Don’t bring your phones or tablets into the bathroom with you,” she says. “Or set your items down in public places such as countertops, park benches, floors, etc.”

Currie recommends a good cleaning weekly and monthly of all devices, including smartphones, tablets, keyboards and computer mouse, earbuds and remote controls.

“There are many cleaners and sanitizers available for these products,” she says.

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  1. The way we rely on our technology now, this isn’t too surprising! I’ll be cleaning much more often.

  2. I try to clean my phone as much as possible and it’s a great reminder to clean office keyboard as well.

  3. The easiert thing to do is to keep a box of small alcohol wipes in packets ( the kind diabetics use prior to injections) and use those to wipe down your devices and keyboards once every few days. A wipe that’s about 2″ square is enough to clean off two cell phones or one laptop keyboard (do it when your laptop’s off, of course). Also: think about wiping off your house keys and car keys, too — you’d be surprised what’s lingering on those!

  4. As much as we don’t want to think about all the germs on our electronic devices, this is a great reminder to wipe them down. I often think about how germ filled the bottom of ladies purses are! That’s another story for you!

  5. I always think about how many germs are on my phone and laptop. I try to wash my hands or use hand sanitizer as much as I can!

  6. Ernst Lamothe Jr July 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm · Reply

    I also keep a hand santizer at my desk. But I made sure that after I read this article to get some wipes and wipe my entire desk, lap top, desktop computer and phone.

  7. Sarah Fitzpatrick July 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm · Reply

    Thank goodness my mom made me very aware of this from a young age! I am constantly wiping down my cellphone and iPad!

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About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.