Our cellphones are filthy, according to an analysis of 56 studies conducted before Covid-19 took its foothold in our lives, published in Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease.
It found a wide array of viruses, bacteria, and fungi living on the surfaces of 68 percent of mobile phones. The most commonly found germs were bacteria, mainly Staphylococci (“staph”), which can cause serious infections. Other germs detected included E. coli and Candida (a type of fungus that can cause a variety of infections, including dermatitis and vaginitis).
Based on the findings, the researchers hypothesized that mobile phones are contributing to the current spread of the coronavirus. They likened a phone to a Trojan horse that can unleash the virus on the public, pointing to a 2016 study that suggests some users touch their phones up to 2,617 times a day.
What you should do
Clean and disinfect your phone and its case after each time you use it in public. Follow the manufacturer’s guidance for cleaning or follow this advice from the FCC and CDC:
- Use a lint-free cloth slightly dampened with soap and water.
- Disinfect touch screens and other nonporous surfaces by gently cleaning them with an alcohol-based wipe containing at least 70 percent alcohol.
- Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the device.
- Avoid aerosol sprays and cleaning solutions that contain bleach or abrasives.
- Keep fluids and moisture away from any openings on the device.
This article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.