Contamination of cell phones with E. coli bacteria from toilet texting made the news this past week as scientists report that 92 percent of the cell phones in the U.K. possess bacteria on their surfaces - including the bacteria typically found in feces. One suspicion is that cell phone users are practicing the unhygienic practice referred to as “toilet texting.” Whether the majority of users are guilty of toilet texting or just plain skipping on washing their hands after their business is done, fecal matter-related E. coli poses a serious health hazard to the public. To help stop the spread of fecal bacteria here are a few simple steps for cleaning your cell phone before dinner.
Once-a-week cell phone cleaning
Once-a-week cleaning is needed to start off with a fresh phone surface and to prevent further buildup of skin oil and bacteria that coats the surface of a cell phone from normal daily use.
Step #1: Turn off your cell phone. Don latex or vinyl gloves.
Step #2: Using a drugstore quality bottle of rubbing alcohol, dilute the rubbing alcohol 1:1 with water. Straight undiluted alcohol can cause discoloration and/or printed letters to wear off.
Step #3: Wet a clean, soft cotton cloth with the diluted alcohol solution and squeeze out the excess fluid. Gently wipe the entire surface of the cell phone with the exception of the screen.
Step #4: Using either cotton swabs or a clean corner of your cotton cloth, gently work over and between the keys while ensuring that no excess liquid gets squeezed into the gaps between the keys and the cell phone casing.
Step #5: Dip a new clean, soft cotton cloth into a sparingly-soaped water solution, squeeze out the excess, and gently rub the cell phone screen clean. Do not use diluted alcohol or other cleaning agent on the screen. Some screens are plastic and will react to everything but water. The cell phone is now clean and free of bacteria.
Daily cell phone cleaning before dinner time
The once-a-week cleaning method is tedious and too time consuming for daily use. Therefore, an efficient and easy daily method is needed to maintain a clean and fairly aseptic cell phone after a phone has been thoroughly cleaned on a weekly basis as described.
The easy method is to find an antiseptic wipe that is safe to use on your phone’s surface. However, it requires a little testing before deciding on a safe cleanser.
Step #1: Find a variety of brands of sanitation wipes and read the labels. Choose only those that do not warn against applying the wipe to plastic surfaces. If available, limit the wipes to ones that claim to be hypoallergenic and/or green and/or organic.
Step #2: Test a tiny amount of each wipe on a small spot on the surface of the cell phone casing. Wait one day and see if any discoloration occurs. If not, then test spot one of the lesser-used keys and wait one day. If the wipe shows that it does not adversely affect the cell phone casing or keys, it is likely that it is a safe cleanser to use on a daily basis. For the screen I would suggest using the transparent peel-off protective films and change them on a weekly basis rather than risk damaging a screen with a cleanser.
Prevention is a matter of good health habits.
It’s just as true today as it was when you were a kid and your mom told you to wash before dinner:
• Wash your hands before and after going to the bathroom.
• Use warm water AND soap and don’t rush the process.
• Think ahead before touching any object in a bathroom.
• And don’t toilet text—mom wouldn’t approve if she knew what you were really doing in there.
Image credit: Morguefile