Cellphone cleaners put to germ test

Researchers say phones 18 times dirtier than public bathrooms

DETROIT – Most people carry their cellphones everywhere, from the bathroom to the dinner table, without a second thought. 

Cellphones are bound to get dirty, but how often should you clean them? What product should you use? 

Studies show people check their phones close to 50 times per day, which means plenty of germs are being transferred from your fingers to your phone and back. 

Every hand you shake and every bathroom doorknob you touch results in bacteria on your fingertips. 

Researchers say phones are 18 times dirtier than a public bathroom. 

WDIV's consumer team  bought four products that are supposed to clean phones and eliminate bacteria: 

  • Terry cloth towels ($2)
  • WHOOSH! screen cleaner wipes ($10)
  • An iRoller screen cleaning device ($20)
  • A PhoneSoap disinfectant that cleans with ultraviolet light ($50)

With kits from a Metro Detroit biological lab, the team swabbed each phone before and after the cleaning method was applied, to get the plate count for bacteria, including E. coli. 

Here's how much bacteria each product removed: 

  • Terry cloth towels: 7,800 bacteria
  • WHOOSH! wipes: 410 bacteria
  • iRoller device: 430 bacteria
  • PhoneSoap device: 2,300 bacteria

The test revealed that the simple terry cloth towel method was the most effective, followed by the PhoneSoap device. 

Even though some devices might look advanced and claim to eliminate nearly all of the germs on your phone, they can be pricey and take minutes to operate, while a quick wipe can do the trick.