Mobile phones home to seven times more bacteria than toilet seats - study

Don't drop your mobile phone in disgust, but a new study has found it is likely seven times more dirty than a toilet seat.

Initial Washroom Hygiene took samples from 50 phones to record the level of bacteria, using a device that lights up live microbes on the phone's surface, reports the Daily Mail.

While a scan of a toilet seat showed 220 spots of the bacteria, the average mobile had 1479  nearly seven times more.

The study also found that phones in leather cases were home to the most bacteria, with even wipe clean plastic cases having more than a toilet seat.

Professor of Bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, Hugh Pennington, told the Daily Mail the results aren't surprising considering the frequent and intimate level of contact people have with them.

"Swabbing a smartphone is almost like checking your handkerchief for germs," he said.

A Deloitte study also found that Americans pick up their phones on average 52 times a day in a range of environments.

While 59 percent of people use them at work, a third also use their phone for business purposes outside of working hours.

Another reason for bacteria spreading may be that 40 percent of people take their phones with them into bathrooms, according to a survey of 2000 people by Initial Washroom Hygiene. Only half cleaned them afterwards.

The warmth of a phone screen also allows bacteria to thrive, which transfers to not only people's hands, but also ears and face when someone puts one up to their head for a call.

A University of Arizona study in 2017 found even worse results, noting that phones had 10 times more bacteria than toilet seats.

While the likelihood of catching an illness from handling someone else's phone was low, Prof Pennington advised not passing them around.

Doctor Charles Gerba, a microbiology professor, said germs like E.coli, influenza, and MRSA can be found on phone surfaces, which can sometimes cause rashes and infections.

Findings by Which? Magazine in 2010 suggested that 14.7 million of the 63 million mobiles used at the time in the United Kingdom could be health hazards due to high levels of enterobacteria, faecal coliforms and other potentially dangerous germs.

Using tissues, alcohol wipes or a professional phone cleaning kit can help reduce the germs, but most experts simply recommend basic hand hygiene.