The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issue of personal hygiene into sharp focus. Worldwide, we’ve responded with vigor to public health announcements urging us to wash and sanitize hands regularly to help combat transmission of the virus. Yet, our hands are rarely far away from a gadget or device of some sort. From remote controls, interactive touch screens, cell phones or smart watches – screens and gadgets are high-touch objects and can act as superhighways for transmitting pathogens via a screen – hand – face route. Cleanliness and hygiene of gadgets and electronic devices is essential if we are to avoid unnecessary exposure to harmful bacteria. In this blog post we take a look at some of the risk factors associated with neglecting to clean and sanitize electronics, as well as practical tips to make sure your gadgets are hygienic to touch.
High-Touch, High-Tech Gadgets
According to research, it is estimated that, on average, we touch our cell phones 2,617 times per day. And for people in the top 10% of cell phone checkers, that number reaches an incredible 5,427 touches a day. People check their phones an average of 76 times per day, each time picking up and touching the screen. Clearly gadgets, devices, and screen technology are high-touch items, which means that, even if we’ve cleaned our hands thoroughly, we can quickly be exposed again to viruses and bacteria that lurk on rarely cleaned screens and gadgets. The Centre for Disease Control has demonstrated that 80% of infections are transmitted by our hands – touching surfaces and then transferring pathogens to our body via the nose, mouth and eyes. Indeed, a study published in the Annals of Clinical Microbiology and Antimicrobials demonstrated that 94% of phones show evidence of bacterial contamination, which can then lead to infection and disease.
Our Cell Phone are Exposed to Pathogens
For many of us, checking our cell phone accompanies a range of other activities. We might be tempted to check social media whilst we stand in line at the store. Perhaps we find ourselves idlily scrolling whilst on crowded public transport. Many of us check out devices whilst eating, catching up on emails during lunchbreaks. And – worryingly – cell phones accompany us into the most private of spaces – the lavatory. 2021 data shows that 3 in 4 Americans admit to using their phone whilst on the toilet. Shockingly, research shows than 1 in 6 cell phones are contaminated with fecal matter, which – if then transferred to our mouth – can cause a host of diseases including typhoid, cholera, polio, E. coli and hepatitis.
Touch Screen Technology Used by a Range of Users
And, it’s not just cell phones that harbinger pathogens. Touch screen technology can be found in numerous public spaces and settings today. Many businesses are using touch screens for both employees and customers to utilize in placing orders, accessing services, and leaving feedback. In the home setting, laptops and devices are shared by multiple family members. And, the growing popularity of smart watch technology means tech accessibility at the touch of a screen, 24/7.
Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Gadgets
It’s shocking then, that high-tech, high-touch devices are so often overlooked when it comes to cleaning and sanitization. Any mention of a lavatory that is seldom cleaned or disinfected prompts a disgusted reaction in us. Yet, research shows that far too many of us neglect to clean our electronic gadgets, even though our cell phone screen is likely to carry 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Worryingly, only 1 in 7 Americans admits to cleaning their cell phone regularly. It is highly likely that – like most tech owners, you are not cleaning and disinfecting your devices daily.
Barriers to Cleaning Your Devices
Consider what might be preventing you from taking steps to clean and sanitize your devices. For some of us, it is habit. We’re just not in the habit of making daily cleaning of devices part of our routine. Perhaps you don’t associate technology as harbinger of germs in the way that we think of undercooked food or bathroom areas. For others, it might be a fear that washing and cleaning devices could damage them. Let’s look at 3 practical ways to challenge any barriers you might have about sanitized your tech.
- Be Organized. Build cleaning and disinfecting of your devices into you daily routine. When you begin work and start logging onto your laptop – take a moment to clean down the device. You can attend to your smart phone when you get into the car by leaving wipes in the vehicle. Wipe down your smart watch when you remove it to shower. The specifics of your own routine and pattern matter less than having a plan and structure and following it. You’ll need to have supplies of appropriate cleaning materials in stock. In fact, the Anti-Viral Spray from Medtecs Shield collection may just be what you need! The spray contains nanocomposites that form a protective shield around the sprayed surface, which inhibits 99% bacterial and viral growth lasting up to 180 days. It also contains zero alcohol and is non-toxic and hypoallergenic.
- Quit the Bad Habits. If you take your cell phone into the bathroom with you – stop. Be conscious and eradicate habits that are interfering with good hygiene. Separate out eating and using technology. Aim to replace mindless scrolling with more mindful habits that allow you to think about hygienic practice.
- Choose Appropriate Products. Look for specialized products that are designed for technology. You should steer clear of any generic cleaning products, such as kitchen sprays, abrasive cleaners, or bleach-based bathroom-specific cleansers. You should avoid anything that will saturate your device. Instead, wipe down your device, including the case, with a screen safe anti-bacterial wipe. You may also want to consider getting Medtecs Ant-Viral Stylus Pen to perform daily tasks such as pressing the elevator button, tapping the phone’s touch screen without having direct contact with your fingers. Made with the same technology in the Medtecs Shield collection, the stylus pen can suppress the growth of 99% of virus and bacteria including influenza virus, H1N1, and E. coli.
So, if you find yourself asking, “how dirty are my gadgets?”, statistically, the answer is likely to be – dirtier than a toilet seat! Make a change today to impact your health and build gadget cleanliness into your daily routine.
*This is a guest post written by Elizabeth Shields of DeluxeMaid, a professional cleaning company based in Indianapolis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 10). Show Me the Science – Why Wash Your Hands? Show me the science – why wash your hands? | Handwashing | CDC. Retrieved November 25, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html.
Matthews, S. E. (2012, August 30). Why your cellphone has more bacteria than a toilet seat. Why your cellphone has more bacteria than a toilet seat | Live Science. Retrieved November 25, 2021, from https://www.livescience.com/22822-cell-phones-germs.html.
Song, S. (2011, October 17). Study: 1 in 6 cell phones contaminated with Fecal Matter. Retrieved November 25, 2021, from https://healthland.time.com/2011/10/17/study-1-in-6-cell-phones-contaminated-with-fecal-matter/.
Turner, A., Author: Ash Turner https://www.bankmycell.com/ Ash Turner is the CEO of BankMyCell. Following university graduation in 2003, Author: & Ash Turner is the CEO of BankMyCell. Following university graduation in 2003. (2021, April 26). WHO ARE AMERICAS TOILET TEXTERS? SMARTPHONE BATHROOM HABITS (TEXTING ON THE TOILET STUDY). Texting on the toilet, cell phone in toilet statistics 2021. Retrieved November 25, 2021, from https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/cell-phone-usage-in-toilet-survey.
Ulger, F., Esen, S., Dilek, A. et al. Are we aware how contaminated our mobile phones with nosocomial pathogens?. Ann Clin Microbiol Antimicrob 8, 7 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-0711-8-7
Winnick, M. (2016, June 16). Putting a finger on our phone obsession. Resources for remote, qualitative and in-context research. Retrieved November 25, 2021, from https://blog.dscout.com/mobile-touches.