British watchdog Which? claims that your smartphones, keyboards, and tablets are more contaminated with germs than a public toilet seat. Lunch at your desk anyone?
The company took swabs from 90 devices, finding “hazardous” levels of bacteria that can make you sick, including E. coli.
One iPad had 600 units of Staphylococcus aureus, while a smartphone had 140. The dirtiest keyboard had 480, compared to less than 20 units per swab of an office toilet.
All those flourishing germs can thank today’s busy lifestyles, the company said, with people taking their gadgets into the bathroom with them to multitask, or rushing from bathroom breaks back to work without properly washing their hands.
“A count of 600 on a plastic device of any sort is incredibly high,” said head researcher and microbiologist James Francis. “It indicates 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.”
While it’s not advised to clean your gadgets with soap or water, Which? advises using a dry lint-free cloth to wipe them clean. Apple advises consumers to not use alcohol-based cleaners on iPhones or iPads, which can damage the screen.
Another way to keep your gadgets clean is to keep your hands clean. Ardis Dee Hoven, a member of the American Medical Association’s board of trustees, told US News and World Report that carrying portable hand sanitizers and using them regularly may also be useful. If you’re worried about your keyboard and phone, Hoven also recommends wiping them down with a bleach solution from time to time, but be careful to not get moisture in any openings or ports.