How Dirty Your Cell Phone Really Is

Your cell phone is sort of the opposite of your appendix. The cell phone is more or less an extra appendage, which, despite being biologically extraneous, has made itself essential to the continued existence of the species. You use it to communicate, procrastinate at work, and binge-watch Netflix in the bathroom while procrastinating at work. The appendix, by contrast, seems like a useless evolutionary holdover, anatomical detritus taking up precious space inside you that could be used for obesity or not dying of sepsis after your appendix ruptures.

There's also a less obvious sense in which the appendix and cell phone are polar opposites. In 2017, Time reported that scientists at several universities around the world uncovered evidence that the appendix might protect beneficial gut bacteria. That same year, Time also reported that cell phones are crawling with enough bacteria to turn your stomach.

Your cell phone conversations might be dirty talk

According to Time, in 2017, University of Arizona researchers determined that a cell phone carries 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, giving a whole new meaning to the term "potty mouth." Before you dial 911 about your crappy phone, it's important to note that the majority of the germs won't make you sick, though it might make you feel sick to think about all the tiny organisms living on your face that get transferred to your phone. The news got even better in 2019, when USA Today cited scientific findings showing that smartphones were only seven times dirtier than toilet seats, which sounds like progress.

Unfortunately, there are also nastier breeds of bacteria found on phones. Among them is streptococcus, a category of bacteria that can cause strep throat, toxic shock syndrome, and flesh eating disease. There's also E. coli, which causes puking, pooping, and cramps among other complications. Cell phones may also carry MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant critter that can cause "deep, painful abscesses," according to the Mayo Clinic. Of course, detection does not an infection make. Still, you don't want this crap on getting inside you. Since people expose their phones to all sorts of germs they may contaminate your hands even after you've washed them. So be sure to wash your phone, too, possibly in your toilet, which is probably cleaner than your phone.