You’ve probably already heard than an average cell phone, including yours, likely carries more germs than a public toilet seat. Studies have shown the bacteria exist in large numbers on cell phones, tablet computers, laptops, and other mobile and personal electronic devices which can then be transferred to the user. All it takes to pass it along is one text or one phone call. When the virus is on your fingers it’s easy to transfer it to the nose, mouth, ears, and face. And when you’re on a call with the phone pressed up against your face, the risk of bacteria transfer to the body, as well as rashes and other skin reactions, is even higher. Good Morning America tested a few cell phones in December 2010 with some alarming results.

More research is needed to pin down the true health risks of touching and handling a piece of glass and plastic all day, and holding it close to the face. The question is, are the germs and bacteria found common cell phones harmful to your health? If so, are we supposed to stop using cell phones altogether? (not happening). Should you sterilize your cell phone every night or after every call? Use a protective cover? Only use speakerphone or Bluetooth? What can you do to reduce your health risk to the germ and bacterial accumulation that inevitably builds up on every cell phone, especially popular touchscreen smartphones?

How To Protect Yourself

Consider these tips: Many doctors, including Dr. Oz, suggest "wiping down the phone," and if you use a protective cover, wipe that as well. Since cell phone users are hesitant to apply harsh chemicals and cloths to their expensive phones, some companies such as CleenCell®, have developed pre-moistened wipes specifically designed to clean cell phones, providing convenience and peace of mind for the safety of the device. 

Some handset manufactures are adding antimicrobial coatings to devices like the iPhone, iPad and the Galaxy Tab slow down the bacteria buildup.  There are even some cell phone cleaning solutions using ultra violet light to clean cell phones.

Clean Your Cell Phone

Since ditching your phone is not an option, and in fact your usage is likely to increase as mobile innovation and utility continues to grow, whatever solution you use, it appears cleaning your cell phone is the best way to fight against viruses and pathogens that build up on mobile devices. Keep  in mind that frequent hand-washing remains the #1 way to prevent against infections, but as some doctors have noted, cleaning cell phones is increasingly a close #2

As you strive toward a healthy and happy 2011, update your personal hygiene routine and clean the device you use most throughout the day, your cell phone.

What do you think is the best way to fight against germ buildup on your cell phone or smartphone?

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