By continuing to use the site or forum, you agree to the use of cookies, find out more by reading our GDPR policy


The smartphone in our pockets has become our dirty secret. The next time you grab a friend's smartphone to stare at a picture or to watch the video on YouTube they simply had to share, you might want to think again. Or, even better, take a look at your own mobile device and wonder: when did I last clean it? On January 17, ZDNet took to Twitter to ask a simple question: How often do you disinfect your phone? The results surprised us and certainly revealed a disturbing truth: the majority of us are filthy creatures. In total, 18.5% of you said your smartphone was subject to a weekly clean, whereas 14% said their mobile device was subject to a monthly spruce-up. A whopping 60% of you admitted you never cleaned your mobile device. 7.4% inferred you would clean it after you've been sick. Our readers aren't alone, either, in grim habits: a 2019 report (.PDF) of 1,200 US residents and their hygiene practices found that 88% of adults use their phones in the bathroom. If you're a parent, you are even more likely to do so with the figure climbing to 93%; perhaps in a bid to snatch a few minutes of peace to check social media feeds and emails. (All in all, there are probably only two types of smartphone users: those who admit to using their device in the bathroom, and those who lie about it.) Your smartphone goes everywhere with you. The lounge, the bathroom, the kitchen, the bedroom, the pub. You touch the screen after you've washed up with the germ-infested kitchen sponge that really should have been thrown away days ago. You refill the dog bowl, perhaps receive an affectionate lick in gratitude and then accept a call, thereby pressing the screen to your face. You unlock your phone in the pub garden to check a notification after you've used the restroom. (You've washed your hands but how many reprobates have you seen while you're in there bypass the sink entirely to grab the door handle on their way out?) It's no wonder that smartphones are now comparable to toilet seats when it comes to the germs and viruses that claim them as home. Other recent studies confirm high colony-forming units (CFU) per square inch levels on our mobile devices. If you're like me and travel often with a smartphone glued to your hip, you really might want to take a wipe with you. Outstripping everything else on the list, a study into airport self-check-in kiosks showed they contain a massive 253,857 CFU per square inch, thanks to our grubby hands. We can't get rid of our smartphones, despite the breeding grounds of germs they have become, and it's important we don't sterilize our lives to the point we hamper our own immune systems. But it might be about time we think about cleaning our devices a little more often, especially in the winter season when cold and flu bugs are rampant and when touch can be enough to transfer contagious illnesses to our nearest and dearest. The now global challenge posed by the coronavirus is an additional wake-up call. Learn the proper way to clean your phone by visiting OUR FORUM.