Here's how dirty your cell phone really is

Your phone is disgusting. Think about it. You take it everywhere, touch it all the time, and non-millennials even talk on it, placing the whole device near your nose and mouth. This is the same phone most people also take into the bathroom. A 2017 study in the U.S. National Library of Medicine confirms bacterial contamination, noting that of the phones it studied, "potentially pathogenic microbes including Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter spp., Pseudomonas spp., Bacillus cereus and Neisseria flavescens were found." In laymen's terms — that's a whole lot of yuck.

And now with the current health concern of a worldwide pandemic due to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, transmitting these germs just can't happen. The CDC recommends cleaning and sanitizing all high-touch surfaces, and that definitely includes a cell phone. The Guardian says we spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes daily using our cell phones. Unless you make really long phone calls, much of that time is likely texting or social media, meaning you touch that phone a lot.

The right way to clean your cell phone

"Cleaning your cell phone is a far more effective preventative measure than something like wearing a face mask," Debra Goff told Prevention. Goff, a Pharm.D., is a founding member of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and recent appointee to the World Health Organization antimicrobial stewardship program. But just like hand washing, chances are you've been doing it all wrong and cleaning your phone ineffectively.

Experts at Prevention warn against using abrasives to clean your phone, as this can easily scratch your screen. The first step is to power off your phone — accidentally posting to Facebook really isn't fun. Next, you'll want to grab a non-scratchy microfiber cloth. You can also use rubbing alcohol in a solution of about 60 percent water and 40 percent alcohol, but don't use just any household cleaner. The last thing to remember is prevention. Try leaving the phone in a purse or bag when using a public restroom. Watch where you set your device down at home and the office to avoid unnecessary contamination.

While the experts didn't put a specific number on how many times your phone should be cleaned in a week, we'd suggest you err on the side of caution and clean your device frequently for now.