Grim reason you should think twice before using your mobile phone while sat on the toilet

By Staff 7 Min Read

A new study has found that more than half of smartphones are contaminated with harmful bacteria – and it’s all down to our toilet habits. The average handset has more than double the germs found on a toilet seat

The grim truth about using your phone on the loo might make you think twice before reaching for your mobile.

We’re all guilty of it taking our phones with us to the bathroom for a bit of scrolling is the new norm, but it turns out this habit could be more harmful than we thought. Our addiction to smartphones has skyrocketed, evolving from simple tools for morning alarms and navigation to constant companions for entertainment or distraction.

This includes indulging in a spot of online shopping while binge-watching our favourite series, catching up on videos during our commute, and yes, even flicking through social media feeds in the loo. However, what seems like a harmless multitasking moment is actually a bacteria breeding ground, according to recent studies.

Initial Washroom Hygiene’s swabbing study has uncovered some stomach-churning data, revealing that over half of our smartphones are teeming with a “high level” of biological contamination. In fact, the average smartphone is festooned with more than double the germs found on a toilet seat, with one phone showing contamination levels six times higher (558 per cent) a truly horrifying thought.

The research utilised adenosine triphosphate (ATP) swab tests alongside an ATP bioluminescence reader to detect life forms too small for the naked eye to see. After analysing surface samples from 50 different smartphones, the results were clear: a whopping 52 per cent of them fell into the category of “heavily contaminated” with microbial nasties, as per the experts’ standards, reports the Express.

A consumer research survey of over 2,000 participants has shed light on the mobile phone habits of the UK public, revealing a rather unsanitary picture. The study found that a staggering one in four UK adults confessed to never cleaning their smartphone, which could explain why our phones are hotbeds for germs. Additionally, a worrying 59 per cent of people admitted to using their phones while in the bathroom or washroom.

To make matters worse, 15 per cent acknowledged they don’t always wash their hands after using the bathroom, potentially transferring bacteria to their smartphones even if they don’t use them inside the toilet cubicle. When it comes to gender differences, men were found to be 10 per cent more likely than women (64 per cent compared to 55 per cent) to take their devices into the washroom, with 24 per cent of men doing so every single time.

Jamie Woodhall, technological innovations manager at Initial Washroom Hygiene, weighed in on the findings: “Our phones are a common reservoir for potentially harmful pathogens, and we know that people are prone to using them while visiting the washroom. “This is especially alarming when you consider that up to 80 per cent of all infections are transmitted by touch.”

Woodhall pointed out the risk associated with this behaviour: “So when people use their phones and put them near their mouths when on calls, they are potentially increasing the likelihood of picking up an illness. Hand hygiene is vitally important. Think about the number of times you touch your phone each day.”

The experts warned: “Every time you do so, you could potentially collect and spread microbial activity. Washing your hands regularly is one of the most powerful steps people can take to help prevent the spread of bacteria and illness. We recommend washing your hands at least five times a day, as well as every time you use the washroom. And of course, it helps to give your phone a regular clean with an antibacterial wipe.”

The study illustrated that phones had an average ATP reading scale of 586- with some soaring as high as 1,455. In contrast, toilet seats were found to have an average reading of 220 with a maximum of 424.

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