Smartphones and tablets have more germs than a toilet seat

Sep 17, 2013

Research by Which? finds worryingly high levels of potentially harmful bacteria on gadget screens

WASHING your hands before answering a phone call may not be practical but it could be a good idea. Consumer group Which? has revealed the results of tests it carried out on 60 smartphones and tablets - and they show worrying high levels of germs.

The tests found many devices carried far higher levels of bacteria than are found on the typical toilet seat - simply because users have not washed their hands enough.

One tablet tested had a count of 600 units per swab of staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium which can create toxins that cause
vomiting and diarrhoea, the Daily Mail reports. The average toilet seat has a count of less than 20.

Which? also found high-risk levels of enterobacteria, a germ family which can include E. coli and salmonella, on 15 of the devices. Five of the devices had an enterobacteria count of 1,000 units per swab - a typical toilet seat has less than 10 units per swab.

James Francis, the microbiologist who carried out the research, said: "A count of 600 on a plastic device of any sort is incredibly high. Itindicates that some people don't wash their hands a lot."

"In the food industry, if we found those levels of bacteria from a hand swab of a food handler, they'd have to be taken out of the workplace and retrained in basic hygiene."

Which? editor Richard Headland said: "It’s shocking that a smartphone or tablet can harbour more germs than a toilet seat. Gadgets should be cleaned regularly and thoroughly to avoid germs that could lead to illness."

Gadget manufacturers including Apple discourage users from wiping their devices with alcohol-based cleaners as these can damage screens Headland advised using a damp, soft, lint-free cloth without
detergent.

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Better not lick your phone then. Or your toilet seat!

Most things harbor more germs than a toilet seat - because toilets are cleaned very frequently (in most cases). If left uncleaned they (the toilet seats) would be far more unpleasant than your phone. This story is pure sensationalism!