Can you get sick from your phone? Yes. The phones can contain thousands of germs and bacteria, which could make you sick if you use your fingers to scroll through them. And it’s not just the germs on your screen that can make you sick.
“What we found is that about half of all smartphones had at least one kind of virus on them,” said Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. The latter studies germs in public spaces such as airports and movie theaters.
Gerba said it’s not uncommon for him to find five or six types of viruses on a single phone. He said that while most people don’t get sick from these viruses, they can cause eye infections or conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye.
It’s important to keep your phone clean because once you start getting sick from something like pink eye, it can spread to other parts of your body — including your hands and face — says Dr. Michael Torpy, an infectious disease specialist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta who studies how germs spread from person to person.
How to tell if your phone is contaminated
If you want to know whether your phone is contaminated with bacteria or not, there are several ways that you can do so. Here are some of them:
Inspect the back of your phone for any grime or dirt. If dirt or grime is on the back of your phone, it may be contaminated. This is particularly important because bacteria are common on the back of the device.
Examine the charging port for any signs of damage and dirt. If there is any damage, it could make it easier for bacteria to enter the phone when you charge it. If there is dirt in this area, consider cleaning it with a can of compressed air before continuing with your examination.
Look at your device’s screen for any signs of build-up, such as fingerprints or smudges from grease from either finger or other sources, such as food and drink stains. These can make it easier for germs to get onto your screen and cause problems later down the line if left unchecked.
Test your phone.
There are a few different ways you can do this, depending on your phone type.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you can check for radiation using the Radiation Check App by ELF EMF (electromagnetic field), which is available in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. This app will tell you if there’s enough radiation to cause harm, but it doesn’t indicate where that radiation might be coming from.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for more information about where the radiation is coming from, try an app like Field Test: Radiation Meter. This app will tell you exactly where the radiation source is and whether or not it’s harmful. (Note: The free version only gives general readings; to get specific readings for each location on your phone, upgrade to the paid version.)
What to do if your phone is contaminated?
You should take action immediately if you suspect your phone has been contaminated. Cleaning your phone will remove any potential contaminants and ensure they don’t spread to other areas of your life.
Clean your apps
If you notice that your screen has a few greasy smudges on it, don’t panic. All you need to do is clean the screen using a microfiber cloth or a soft cloth and water. If the grease is on your fingers, wash them with soap and water before touching your device again.
To clean an app:
1) Open the app menu on your Android device or iPhone, then swipe left so all apps are visible.
2) Find the app you want to clean and press on it until all four corners begin to glow red (this indicates that the app is ready for deletion). Then press “Delete,” which will permanently remove it from your device (or until you reinstall it).
3) Repeat with each remaining app until none remain on your device. Then reboot it once more as a precaution against any lingering germs or viruses.
Clean your devices
This process can be tricky if you have an iPhone because Apple doesn’t have a standard way of removing its battery. You’ll need to take your iPhone to an Apple store for them to help you out (though this may void your warranty). You can follow our guide on removing the battery without damaging anything else for Android phones.
Clean your docking stations
If you have a wireless charging pad or dock for your phone, clean it with soap and water and wipe it down with rubbing alcohol. If you have a case on your phone, take it off before placing it on a wireless charging pad or dock, as these can trap dust and debris between the case and the pad or dock.
Clean your headphones and earbuds
Clean your headphones or earbuds with soap and water or rubbing alcohol if they’re in frequent contact with your face (like when jogging). This will remove any bacteria from sweat that could be present on those surfaces. Also, keep them stored away from direct sunlight as much as possible.
Clean your chargers and cords
This is particularly important for anyone who has dropped their phone in the water or had it near food. The bacteria levels found on phones are enough that they can cause sickness if you eat with your hands while holding the phone, according to research.
The best way to clean a charger is by using rubbing alcohol or soap and water. You can also use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe down the cord. If your phone is still wet, first let it dry before cleaning.
How often should you clean?
We recommend cleaning your phone once a week at the minimum, especially if you have kids or pets who may have touched the device recently. If you work in an environment where there’s a lot of dust (like construction) or if you’re in close contact with other people throughout the day (like teachers), then daily cleaning might be necessary to prevent any contamination from getting worse.