What's on your cell phone? 'Not infrequently, fecal bacteria'

What's on your cell phone? 'Not infrequently, fecal bacteria' »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - You've seen them on your cell phone: Smudges. Smears. Fingerprints.

But how often do you actually clean your phone?

"Never," said Teresa York.

And if you do clean your phone, how do you do it?

"I just wipe it on my jeans usually," said Jeff Costello.

But what if you found out your phone could be dirtier than a toilet seat?

That's the claim from a University of Arizona microbiologist.

"I find it kind of surprising," said Ray Boone, who never cleans his phone. "Makes me wanna go home and clean it."

So what is all that stuff on your screen?

KVAL News asked Professor Theo Dreher, the chair of microbiology at Oregon State University.

"What you typically would find is bacteria that can be associated with skin," Dreher said, "and not infrequently fecal bacteria."

And if you think the germs on your phone are safe because they're yours, the problem is when you pass your phone along to someone else.

And in some lines of work, that's hard to avoid.

"I try not to ever handle any of my patients cell phones ever, especially when they're sick," said Costello, a pharmacist, "and they try to give them to me all the time to talk to their doctors."

Dreher said antibacterial wipes work wonders to clean up your phone.

Cotton swabs help clean between the keys.

But some germs are here for good.

"As rotten as it sounds, it's simply very difficult to keep fecal and urine traces out of our lives," Dreher said. "They don't all cleanly go down the septic."