PEE AND POOP, EVERYWHERE.
It’s basically a norm now to bring your smartphone to the bathroom.
We're all guilty. Bathroom time has become a time to respond to texts and check our Instagram likes. In fact, a good amount of you are probably reading the mobile version of this article while sitting on the toilet right now.
It lets you take a break from work or school that lasts about ten times longer than it should. Plus, you get shit done…while you get shit done. So it's a win-win and actually super productive, right?
But if you think about it, using a phone on the toilet is probably the most unsanitary you can do.
Given what we use the toilet for, it's safe to say that using a smartphone at the same time is a really gross habit. So we reached out to two germ experts, Charles Gerba, PhD, professor of microbiology, and Kelly Reynolds, PhD, associate professor of environmental health, at the University of Arizona, to learn more about the risks of bathroom germs on your phone and how this gross habit can actually make you sick.
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Toilets (especially public ones) are covered in germs, bacteria, and fecal matter… so, poop.
« Bathrooms are covered in germs, pathogens, and enteric bacteria (from the intestinal tract), mostly from fecal matter, » says Gerba. According to the experts, the most contaminated surfaces are the door and toilet handles, faucet, and floor — in fact, studies found that 1/4 of purses had fecal matter from resting on bathroom floors.
Even if you wash your hands, you can still touch a germ-coated surface like the faucet or door knob and re-contaminate yourself. The amount of germs or bacteria in the bathroom really depends on how often it's cleaned and sanitized, which you can control at home. But with public restrooms where so many people are bringing in germs and bacteria…not so much.
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There’s also aerosolized dirty toilet water EVERYWHERE, including that toilet paper holder everyone rests their phone on.
« When you flush the toilet, water with feces and urine sprays about six feet in every direction, » says Reynolds. And the aerosols increase with every flush, so if it's a public bathroom, there is dirty toilet water coating literally everything — especially the toilet paper dispenser, because it's right next to the toilet bowl.
Any surface that the aerosols settle on can transmit things between people, says Reynolds, so every time you set your phone down, it becomes contaminated with germs and fecal matter. Not to mention, it'll pick up whatever the last person placed on there, says Gerba, which could've been dirty toilet paper, used sanitary pads, etc. You really never know.
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