Report: Cellphones 'Dirtier Than Toilet Seat'

John Lister's picture

A hygiene company says the average smartphone is "seven times dirtier" than a toilet seat. People using them in bathrooms could be the cause.

The company says it swabbed 50 phones with a device that lights up spots on a surface housing live bacteria. On average it found 1,479 such spots on a phone, compared with 220 on a toilet seat.

Not all phones are equally icky however. Phones with a wipe-clean plastic covers had slightly fewer bacteria spots than the average handset. The worst offender was a phone in a leather case that doubled as a wallet and had nearly 17 times as many bacteria spots as the toilet seat.

Professor Hugh Pennington of the University of Aberdeen, a bacteria expert, said the result wasn't surprising thanks to the sheer amount of time the average user spends in close physical contact with a phone.

Bathroom Browsing Not Uncommon

Critics of the study have noted that toilet seats aren't necessarily a particularly bacteria-infested location, given they often get regularly cleaned. Meanwhile health risks are more about the type of bacteria in question rather than the sheer number. (Source:

The company also conducted a survey of two thousand office workers and found around two in five admitted using a smartphone while in the bathroom at work. Of these people, half said they cleaned their phone after doing so.

E. Coli Found On Some Handsets

Dr Anchita Karmakar, quoted by the Metro newspaper, said this was a particular problem as phones contain small creases that can hold air and water particles including bacteria. She noted that this could then cause problems if people used their phones while eating, running the risk of transferring the bacteria from the phone to their mouths. (Source:

The latest study follows research in 2011 that found one in six cellphones housed fecal matter. This included E. coli bugs, which can lead to stomach upsets and the effects associated with food poisoning.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you surprised by these findings? Do you ever use your phone in the bathroom? Have you ever considered using antibacterial wipes on your phone?

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beach.boui's picture

People are disgusting. People who don't know they are disgusting are disgusting. Disgusting people are idiots, and that's one of the reasons why they're disgusting... they don't know any better. Ugh!

buzzallnight's picture

Researchers were telling us for 10 to 20 years that we eat spiders when we are asleep because they found spider parts in human stool samples.
After 10 to 20 years they finally realized the spider parts are in the food we eat.

It is possible that someone dropped their phone in the toilet.

As a public service message
we would like to ask you to use a condom
before you shove a cell phone up your own
or anyone else's butt :)