Little do many people know, one of the things that carries the most germs is that little device in your pocket. That’s right, your cellphone.

“It’s kind of disgusting to think about and makes me want to go clean my cellphone,” said Ashlynn Howard, a sophomore studying psychology.

Cellphones can collect germs in simple ways that many do not even realize.

“The dangers with disease spreading on cellphones is basically you can cough, or you can touch you cellphone if you haven’t got your hands washed, or anything like that,” said LuAnn Dixon, Infection Preventionist at Madison Memorial Hospital. “And there are always organisms on your hands. If those organisms are something that will cause disease such as influenza or MERSA, you can touch that phone, put it in your eyes, put it in your mouth, touch a wound on your hand or your body. And it can become infected because you touched that cellphone.”

With germs floating around, cleaning your cellphone should become a daily routine.

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“You should clean your cellphone at least once or twice a day,” Dixon said.  “If you are sick, you should do it more often than that. And if you are sick, don’t let someone else use your cellphone. Basically, with the toilet, we are more prone to think that there are going to be germs there, and we don’t think that about a cellphone.  It is more of something that we use all the time, and we don’t really concentrate or focus that there’s probably germs on that.”

While cellphones carry lots of bacteria, there are simple ways to fight that. Cleaning a cellphone is easy to do and doesn’t have to harm the phone.

“I would suggest that you clean it with an alcohol swab or if there is a way that the manufacturer of the cellphone suggests that,” Dixon said, “Of course don’t use soap and water. But, the other way to do that, is if you can’t use something, or you don’t have something to clean your cellphone, use the alcohol hand sanitizer on your hands, and that will at least get ride of the stuff that you touched on your hands.”

For Dixon, cleaning the cellphone is just common sense.

“I think the best advice, or the most important, would be to wash your hands after you have used it if you can’t wash it,” Dixon said, “And to clean it as much as possible with an alcohol swab, especially the LED or the touch part of it, and then the outside alcohol shouldn’t hurt that.  If you use wet, or anything like that, on the LED you will have a problem. But if you clean it, and wipe it off, and dry it very quickly, you should have it.”

But how often do people think of cleaning their cellphones?

“I don’t think about cleaning my cellphone, ever,” Howard said, “Unless I drop it in a toilet. But, I don’t think about it very often, but knowing that there are germs, yeah it makes me want to clean it.”

The first step to cellphone bacteria prevention and staying healthy, however, is being educated.

“I think they over look the germs on cellphones the same reason that they over look the germs on like a tabletop,” Dixon said, “We use them all the time. We don’t really concentrate or don’t recognize and then concentrate that our hands are touching something.  And I think that it is just because we use it all the time, and we don’t think ‘This is contaminated’ because we don’t recognize and we aren’t really truly thinking about the education of, and the importance of being educated, and of taking care of and cleaning the things that we use all the time.”

Education will not completely stop the germs or getting sick, though. Being sick requires a heightened sense of awareness for others.

“If someone is sick, don’t go to work, or don’t go to school, or do the things that you need to to prevent it,” Dixon said. “Because, if you are aware of the germs, no one would want to give someone else, intentionally, a disease.”

If people do find themselves sick, it’s always best to follow the Golden Rule.

“I think if you consider, when you are sick, and you consider how you would like to be treated or your family, I think if you think about that, you may not go out and expose other people,” Dixon said. “I think it would be easier to be able to think about it. It’s kinda like, ‘Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you,’ and if you think about that, and don’t do something that you wouldn’t want someone to do to you, or your family, it might help.”