If you’re reading this on a cell phone, we’ve got some bad news.

It turns out that cell phones are totally gross. Science has proven it: one study by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took samples from almost 400 phones and found that one in six of them were contaminated with (deep breath time) poop, while another found that every square inch of a cell phone contains around 25,000 germs.

Not gross enough for you? This Buzzfeed experiment found some pretty alarming pathogens on people’s phones, while another study found that some cell phones have more germs on them than a toilet seat!

Don’t freak out and throw your phone into the trash just yet though, because most of the germs found in these studies were totally harmless. However, it’s still a good idea to follow some basic hygiene steps to keep the nastier germs at bay…

Clean your phone regularly

If you never clean your phone, you’re pretty much inviting germs to come and party on your handset. And no – wiping your phone on your shirt doesn’t count as cleaning it…

The best way to clean your phone is to make your own diluted alcohol spray using bottled water and 70% isopropyl alcohol, then apply it using a lint-free cloth at least once a week. This Buzzfeed article has all the info you need!

Using anything stronger or more abrasive, like an anti-bacterial wipe, could lead to scratches and cosmetic damage.

Don’t use your phone in the bathroom

Yeah, we know; going to the bathroom is a great opportunity to catch up on your emails and watch a YouTube video or ten. And maybe play some Real Racing. And learn all about the life and times of Isaac Newton.

But using your phone in the bathroom is yet another invitation for germs to get nasty on your device.

There are the obvious risks, like touching your phone before washing your hands and accidentally dropping it down the toilet (which happens way more often than you think), but there are a ton of less obvious hygiene issues too. For example, did you know flushing the toilet can cause germs to shoot out up to 6 feet in every direction? Or that only 66% of Americans wash their hands after using the bathroom?

In short, bathrooms are nasty. Leave your phone in your pocket or bag and use the time to daydream about how you’re going to become a millionaire instead.

Wash your hands

Even the most careful of us can end up with some pretty nasty germs on our hands, so washing them regularly is important if you want to keep your handset nice and clean.

You don’t need to wash your hands every time you’re planning to pick up your cell phone, but you should wash them if you’ve handled raw food, been in a potentially germ-ridden public place and – of course – after you’ve been to the bathroom.

Oh, and make sure you do it properly too. It sounds obvious, but a study by Michigan State University found that 95% of people don’t wash their hands correctly.  The official advice from the CDC is to use plenty of soap and scrub well for around 20 seconds (or two verses of Happy Birthday).

Don’t freak out

If you’re a germaphobe like me, you’re probably planning to douse your phone in bleach as soon as you’ve finished reading this post.

Please don’t. Not only is it a super ineffective way to clean your device, but the fact is most of the germs on your cell phone are actually harmless. They really aren’t worth freaking out over.

If you follow basic hygiene tips and clean your phone every now and again, you’ll be totally fine. Honestly.

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