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Would You Put Your Mouth Near a Toilet? How About Your Phone?

Updated on May 17, 2013

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Germs. This is what the screen of your phone may look like under a microscope.
Germs. This is what the screen of your phone may look like under a microscope. | Source

Giving New Meaning to the Phrase Potty Mouth

In October 2011 research was released that 1 of 6 phones in the UK tested positive for E. coli, a bacteria that has its origins in fecal matter (that's poop if you didn't know). This bacteria has been know to have strains that are potentially deadly in certain circumstances. Now, the researchers as London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and their partners o\at Queen Mary, University of London Seem to think that this is because people don't wash their hands enough. Based off of my observations of bathroom behavior in both the US and the UK, I am inclined to agree. But I think they missed something as well. How often do you clean your phone?

What You Touch

How often are you on your phone? How often do you fiddle with your phone when your bored? When you are waiting? When you are in the bathroom? Ooops! Did I mention something people don't like to talk about? Well, if people have a hard time ignoring a text while driving, I am almost positive that when squatting on the pot people have time to reply to a friend. Or play a game while pinching off a big one. Good Lord! I have heard people carrying on conversations in the bathroom, as has my wife! Talk about the wrong time and place. So we are hyper connected. We have to deal with it.

Now the big question. As I said before, how often do you clean your phone? After I read the research mentioned above, I realized that I rarely if ever did so. My wife and friends I asked admitted the same. I remember reading where the condiment bottles in many restaurants are dirtier than most of their toilet because at least the toilets are cleaned daily. Just imagine the nasty stuff that gets to your phone. Unless you wash your hands before you grab your phone every time, this is a fact. So the solution. Clean your phone. Heck, clean all your mobile devices. Tablets, laptops, notebooks, netbooks, mp3 players, everything. Nothing too extreme. In fact, if you follow the instructions below you'll see that it is relatively cheap and easy to clean your devices and stay healthy.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Do the following weekly.

Like turning your phone off once a week to give it a break and rest it, I recommend you clean your devices once a week. Probably at the same time as doing the power cycle (the technical term for turning your device off and then on again).

What you need:

1) A bottle of isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol which can be found at your local drug store (or chemists if you are in the UK) for less than a few dollars or pounds.

2) Toilet paper, paper towels or cotton balls (for application)

Turn the bottle of alcohol upside down over the applicator and dampen it. Then wipe your device with it. Don't soak it. Just wipe with it then wipe dry. If you have a device with a keyboard, don't forget that. Avoid getting alcohol in areas like headphone jacks, power ports and mics. If you are using that much then you may be using too much. Once you are done with this, dab the device dry with a clean cloth or on of the suggested applicator above.


If you don't have time you can just get alcohol wipes. These are nice if they are wrapped because you can keep them with you. Still, it really depends on whether you want the extra cost or don't want people think your nuts.

Don't Panic!

Seriously, the reason I write this is not to panic people. Be aware and clean your devices. Don't be a germaphobe, just be a realist. It would a good idea to clean those other things you never think about too, but please don't go the way of Howie Mandel or Howard Hughes. Life is dirty, but it is fun too! Just be cautious and thoughtful.

Here is to a healthy, happy and long life.

Best known for hosting Deal or No Deal, the actor and comedian Howie Mandel suffers from germaphobia, the fear of germs.
Best known for hosting Deal or No Deal, the actor and comedian Howie Mandel suffers from germaphobia, the fear of germs. | Source
Howard Hughes (1905-1976) (a distant cousin of mine) was an eccentric millionaire, inventor and more suffered from germaphobia as a part of his struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder.
Howard Hughes (1905-1976) (a distant cousin of mine) was an eccentric millionaire, inventor and more suffered from germaphobia as a part of his struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder. | Source


Submit a Comment

  • jonnycomelately profile image

    Alan 6 years ago from Tasmania

    I would like to just clear up a few mis-conceptions about this folks, in all humility.

    E-coli are naturally present in the feces of all warm-blooded animals. Most species of E-coli are not pathogenic. Just a few are and I believe, from searching on Google, these few emanate from cattle. So, a heightened fear of E-coli is not necessary.

    Secondly, E-coli is used as an indicator of whether fecal matter is present. Some pathogenic (disease-forming) microbes can be passed on via feces. Since there are literally trillions of microbes, both dead and alive, making up the bulk of feces, the pathogens are likely to be present in very small quantities, and you would probably miss them if you were looking through a microscope.

    So, if you see E-coli present, which make up a very much larger percentage of the microbes in feces, then you can make the assumption that pathogens are POTENTIALLY present. Whether they ARE present will depend upon whether the person whom the E-coli came from actually was carrying pathogens.

    So, you can stop worrying about E-coli. Just keep yourself generally clean and healthy. Oh - and allow just a little dirt into your life - it will help your bodies immune system to stay on guard.

    By the way, sitting on the Loo for half an hour, reading a paper, or texting your buddy, is not a healthy habit. The veins from your legs don't like it.

  • CloudExplorer profile image

    Mike Pugh 6 years ago from New York City

    This E-coli thing is a monster of all microbes ain't it, I make sure to clean many surfaces after its usage and before.

    Thanks for the advice, and I'm sure some people may be able to use such info during their daily occurrences while using cell phones and other devices as well. Nicely written hub, voted up.

  • ibbarkingmad profile image

    Brian 6 years ago from Utah

    Oh, I agree SweetiePie. But still, some people just don't think. Also, the can is a place where people relax and even read. I've seen literal libraries in bathrooms! Somehow I think the mobile device is going to make it in there not matter what common sense suggestions we make. LOL. People! People! (I include my own stupid and stubborn self in that rant by the way. ;-P)

  • SweetiePie profile image

    SweetiePie 6 years ago from Southern California, USA

    Be a strong cookie, and put the phone down when you need to use the bathroom. I also cannot tell you how many people I see texting when they drive. Sometimes, people are on their phones at all the wrong times.

  • ibbarkingmad profile image

    Brian 6 years ago from Utah

    Ellisa, that is nice, but the price is a little steep. I suppose if you care that much about the scented bit then fine, but you can clean for cheaper with rubbing alcohol or generic hand sanitizers. Glad people have that option, but I am too poor and too cheap to sink money into something that can be done just as easily with stuff I have in my medicine cabinet. Thanks for the tip though. Maybe others will like this.

  • profile image

    Ellisa 6 years ago

    I have been using a product called "Wireless Wipes" to clean and disinfect my cell phone, my computer screen, and my keyboard.

    They sell 3 distinctive scents...

    check them out at

  • ShyeAnne profile image

    ShyeAnne 6 years ago from Deep Bay, British Columbia, Canada

    useful reminder, thanks!

  • ibbarkingmad profile image

    Brian 6 years ago from Utah

    Oh, cleaning things hasn't gone out, except maybe for some people who don't take pride in themselves. Still, I think of myself as a rather clean person and it wasn't until that study that I realized the amount of nasty that got on my phone and how I didn't do anything about it (or rather the potential for nasty). If it weren't for the public forum I would tell you all sorts of nasty stories of homes I've been to and the lack of hygiene that I have seen. The sad truth is that modern science and medicine has made people lazy. Infections are easily treated compared to the past. People with a little class and pride take care of themselves, but too often I am seeing others who have no self pride. But that is a different hub.

  • princesswithapen profile image

    princesswithapen 6 years ago


    Cleaning our belongings has never gone out of vogue and I don't see why cell phones should be any different. This can be handy for someone who works in construction or other such trades where they're always out on the run. Nice hub.

    I had a work colleague who was a germanphobe. He always carried a little bottle of cleanser/sanitizer and used it almost every hour.