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Here's The Most Disgusting Habit You're Probably Guilty Of


It's basically a norm now to bring your smartphone to the bathroom.

Twitter: @medievalreacts

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 10 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.

Andreypopov / Getty Images / Via

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, Ph.D., professor of microbiology, and Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., 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.

Toilets (especially public ones) are covered in germs, bacteria, and fecal, poop.

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"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, the faucet, and the floor — in fact, studies found that one-fourth 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 recontaminate 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.

There's also aerosolized dirty toilet water EVERYWHERE, including that toilet paper holder everyone rests their phone on.

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"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 that 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.

These germs can transmit norovirus, salmonella, E. coli, and other diarrheal illnesses — which is why we wash our hands.

Instagram: @mrsamador420 / Via

According to the experts, there have been outbreaks of norovirus, E. coli, salmonella, shigella, hepatitis A, MRSA, Streptococcus, and the common stomach flu — all linked to public bathrooms.

And FYI, urine isn't actually sterile — it can transmit pink eye and respiratory infections, says Reynolds, if you get the germs and pathogens on your hands in the bathroom and then touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth.

So yes, clean hands are a must. But...sadly not everyone washes their hands every single time, so even if you did, you might be touching the same door handle that was touched by someone who skipped the soap. "Norovirus, the most common cause of adult diarrhea in the U.S., is almost always linked to bad hand-washing habits," says Gerba.

And your smartphone is basically an extension of your hands, but it doesn't get washed.

Glitter Hollywood / / Via

You might not eat a sandwich on the toilet, but would you eat a sandwich while checking Instagram after bringing your phone to the bathroom a few hours before? Probably yes. And as your fingers touch your phone and then the food, those germs from the bathroom end up right in your mouth. When you bring your phone to the bathroom, it's like leaving without washing your hands.

Studies at University of Arizona showed that 9 out of 10 phones had a potential disease-causing microbe, and 16% tested positive for fecal matter. So when you use your phone in the bathroom, it essentially becomes a mobile germ carrier. "The average person uses their cell phone for two hours a day, so it's very easy to recontaminate your hands and transmit the germs to yourself or someone else," Gerba says.

So it's best to part with your smartphone for five minutes and use the bathroom for its intended purpose.

SYZM.ORG / Via Twitter: @JGTechBlog

"If the bathroom is the root of the problem, the best solution is to keep your phone in your bag and away from the toilet," Gerba says. If you're home and you know your bathroom is super clean, then you might not have to worry as much (though you're still getting aerosolized fecal matter on it probably).

So, in general, just don't.

Also, let us not forget HOW 99% OF PHONE DEATHS HAPPEN.*

Instagram: @brittknee_ann / Via

We've all had a smartphone rice bowl at some point in our lives. So germs aside, you're also risking dropping and drowning your phone in the toilet every time you bring it with you. "Even if the rice trick works and your phone dries, now it's totally contaminated with germs and fecal matter in the smallest nooks and crannies," Reynolds says. DISGUSTING.

*A guess, but probably a good one.

**Also, who took this photo?

But if you can't go to the bathroom without it, you should try to sanitize your phone as often as possible.

Instagram: @simplement_matilda / Via

Disinfecting wipes are super effective at killing all the germs after a trip to the bathroom, Gerba says, but the wipes are suitable only for the case and not the rest of the phone. A better solution is to spray a microfiber or lint-free cloth with a diluted alcohol solution (one part alcohol to one part distilled water) and gently wipe down the entire phone. A plastic screen protector will make this easier. And if you're going to rest your phone on the top of the toilet paper holder, place a piece of toilet paper down first so it doesn't come into direct contact with the germ-covered surface.

If you're a true germaphobe or you just really want to disinfect all the nooks and crannies, you can order this UV-light phone sanitizer from Amazon for $48.

  1. So, do you bring your phone into the bathroom with you?

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So, do you bring your phone into the bathroom with you?
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    Yes. What would I do without it?
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    Yes, but only when I know I'll be sitting on the toilet for a while.
    vote votes
    Ew, literally never.
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