Talking Dirty: A look at cell phones and bacteria


by WDJT Editor

MILWAUKEE- How dirty is your cell phone? Probably worse than you'd like to believe.

With how attached people have become to their cell phones or smart phones, it's not a surprise that what we touch ends up on the screen.

It's what exactly ends up there that's the real shocker.

CBS 58 took three heavily used cell phones to be tested by UW-Milwaukee's Microbiology department.

The tests found traces of E-coli and other coliforms.

Coliforms are a bacteria indicating fecal contamination.

The Wall Street Journal did a similar test for an article called "Calling all Germs" and they found between about 2,700 and 4,200 units of coliform bacteria on 8 phones.

The screens on the phones are also essentially illuminated paradises for the bacteria because of the heat they emit.

In that same article from WSJ, a study published in the Journal of
Applied Microbiology in 2011 warned that some 20 to 30% of viruses can be readily transferred from a fingertip to a glass surface, like that on a touch screen.

Dr. Sonia Bardy from UW-Milwaukee's Microbiology Department said that people at risk like older people or young children may be susceptible, but for the most part this is not dangerous.

If you are looking to keep your phone clean, it's advised you first look at the cleaning instructions on your phone.

There are also other options like some that companies offer anti-microbial shells and screen protectors to guard against germs.


Should employers be able to ask applicants for social media log in information?

  • Yes
  • No