Study says Your iPhone is Dirtier Than a Toilet — and So Are These Other Everyday Items

Then next time you answer your smartphone and press it firmly to your face, consider this: Are you touching fecal matter right now?

Quite possibly. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine found fecal matter on one out of every six smartphones in a 2011 study. Add to that the work of Charles Gerba, a famed University of Arizona microbiologist who found cell phones carry 10 times the bacteria of most toilet seats.

Familiar items we touch every day, from cellphones to kitchen sinks, swarm with far more germs than our toilets. And while 80 percent of infections come from what we touch, we rarely clean these ordinary items as often as our porcelain thrones.


It only takes two weeks for a brand new pair of shoes to collect 421,000 units of bacteria, the average amount Gerba found in a sole-searching footwear study. Nearly a third of shoes (27%) carried E. coli, indicating “frequent contact with fecal material, which most likely originates from floors in public restrooms or contact with animal fecal material outdoors,” Gerba said. Throwing the shoes in a washing machine with detergent nixed 90% of the bacteria or more, the study found—including all fecal matter. (Just don’t wear your shoes in the home.)

Kitchen sink

“If an alien came from space and studied the bacterial counts, he probably would conclude he should wash his hands in your toilet and crap in your sink,” Gerba said in a university profile. Kitchen sinks carry more bacteria than both toilets and garbage cans, his work shows. Even worse is the damp kitchen sponge nearby, which Gerba found can be 200,000 times dirtier than your toilet. Hit your sink with hot, soapy water and wipe it daily with disinfecting wipes, he told Today, and put sponges in the microwave for a minute while wet to sanitize them.

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SOURCE: Josh Hafner