Cell phone on the toilet: why that’s not unhygienic

A professor of microbiology and hygiene gives the all-clear: with good hand hygiene, the mobile phone as a toilet companion is not as big a germ spreader as some think.

Lots of people do it, but some don’t like to talk about it because it seems to have a certain ‘yuck’ effect: taking your cell phone to the toilet for larger or smaller ‘business’. Only rarely are the magazines or comics that used to be available in the toilet. Because nowadays you simply take your mobile phone with you, which after all offers a lot more possibilities than classic reading material to read or play something. Depending on the length of stay…

But shouldn’t the touchscreen and other surfaces of a smartphone be swarming with germs? put this question to Markus Egert, Professor of Microbiology and Hygiene at Furtwangen University. His research has therefore proven that smartphones are not such a big germ spreader. However, one should pay attention to good hand hygiene.

No place for germs

According to Professor Egert, the touchscreen does not offer “good living conditions for microorganisms” because it is very smooth, dry and relatively poor in nutrients. A few flakes of skin or some fat are more likely to get caught. In addition, we would often clean our smartphones unintentionally – for example by wiping it on our pants or t-shirt, which mechanically removes germs. Even a mere wiping with a microfiber cloth – like Apple’s premium polishing cloth for only 25 euros – can already remove 80 to 90 percent of the microorganisms.

As far as the situation in the toilet is concerned, Egert says in the interview: “The most important thing is your hands. Of course, if you go to your smartphone with hands contaminated by fecal bacteria, they end up there too. But if you practice good hand hygiene, that shouldn’t happen.”

On the other hand, the situation when cooking is much more critical, for example when defrosting a chicken. The fact that the smartphone is contaminated with food pathogens is a more serious risk. Millions to billions of germs per cubic centimeter would sit on a piece of meat. You also put your finger in your mouth to taste it, which probably doesn’t happen in the toilet.

The interview can be read further with other interesting aspects without a payment barrier on

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