Surprising Side Effects Of Not Cleaning Your Phone

If you're like most people, you're texting, scrolling, and streaming. You take your phone with you in your car, while shopping, and in the bathroom. Wash your hands, then touch your phone? You're only getting the germs on your hands again. 

In a 2017 study on 175 people's phones, including 125 health care workers and 50 non-healthcare workers, researchers found six different types of bacteria on the non-healthcare workers' phones. The healthcare workers' phones had 203 different types of bacteria on them. In another 2017 study, researchers tested 27 phones owned by high school students. They found an average of over 17,000 copies of bacterial genes per phone — a lot of germs. Yikes!

There are other gross things on your phone — makeup, dead skin cells, and oils, according to Dr. Jason Miller, a dermatologist. When you touch your phone full of oils and makeup and dead skin cells, and then touch your face — or make a phone call with the phone touching your face — you might experience clogged pores and breakouts. Dr. Miller explains that you can also have the bacteria staphylococcus on your phone, and if that touches your face, you can get an infection called impetigo, causing large, contagious sores.  

The good news is that you can easily prevent bacteria, dead skin cells, makeup, and oils from building up on your phone by disinfecting it

Other reasons to clean your phone regularly

Staph infections and acne aren't the only issues you might find yourself dealing with if you never clean your phone. Considering how many germs are found on the average phone, researchers at the University of Arizona found that smartphones often have 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. "Your phone is exposed to everything you touch. What's on your hands is on your phone," said Adriana Catinari, Product Manager at Whoosh! (via Reader's Digest).

Phones can also harbor bacteria that are on your skin and living in your respiratory tract (via Business Insider). When you speak into your phone, water droplets that contain bacteria will inevitably end up on it. Have you ever taken your phone into the bathroom with you? If so, there's probably fecal matter on it. If we're talking about specific bacteria, various studies have found E. coli, MRSA, and Streptococcus, among others, on mobile devices.

While our bodies can handle quite a bit of bacteria without getting sick, never cleaning your phone can cause health issues. Even people who wash their hands frequently aren't completely protected, since they probably reach for their phone as soon as they exit the bathroom. One of the best ways to keep yourself healthy today is to clean your phone regularly.

How to disinfect your phone

You should be cleaning your phone once a day at a minimum, according to the FCC. If you don't have one already, get a protective screen cover for your phone so it's easier to disinfect. It will also protect the phone's touch screen from scratches and dings. Check your phone manufacturer's cleaning instructions to make sure it's safe to clean your phone this way. 

You'll need cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol with 70 percent alcohol. Get some isopropyl alcohol wipes, and keep them in your car so you can disinfect your phone on the go. Shut your phone off, and remove the case. Dip a cotton swab in the isopropyl alcohol, making it damp. Use it to thoroughly clean your phone and case — if your case is made of hard plastic. Cotton swabs are perfect because they can get in all the nooks and crannies of your phone (via Bustle). 

If you have a silicone case, you can wash it with warm water, dish detergent, and a clean cloth. Wash and rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry completely before putting the case back on your phone. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and sanitizing if you have a phone case made with a different material (via Cleveland Clinic). 

What not to do when cleaning your phone

We listed some good tips on cleaning your phone above, but there are plenty of things you don't want to do in order to keep your expensive device from being damaged. According to CNET, hand sanitizer may seem like an easy way to kill germs on your phone's screen, but this product should stay on your hands only. Many hand sanitizers contain ethyl alcohol and fragrances that can potentially damage your screen. It is, however, a good idea to sanitize your hands before cleaning your phone to avoid the transfer of bacteria.

Other items to avoid when cleaning your phone include window cleaner, kitchen cleaners, and makeup remover. Even gentler substances, like dish soap and vinegar, can give you a $1000 headache by damaging your screen or internal components. Stick to cleaning products that are designed for phones to avoid wearing away external coatings. Sanitizing wipes are also okay to use on iPhones if you're in a pinch (via The Wall Street Journal). You can also keep your device safe by getting a sturdy case and screen cover. If you were to damage these items when cleaning your phone, it would be much cheaper to replace them than your smartphone itself.