Study reveals the 'invisible life' lurking on the average device

How filthy is YOUR phone? Stomach-churning study reveals the ‘invisible life’ lurking on the average device – including E.Coli from human POO

  • 100% of smart devices tested were positive for E.Coli and S. aureus 
  • Bacillus cereus and Fecal Streptococci were among the germs on all screens
  • Taking your phone to the toilet with you was blamed for some of the germs  

Bacteria from both human and cockroach poo are among the secret germs that lurk on our phones, experts have warned. 

E.Coli and Fecal Streptococci were found on 100 per cent of smartphone screens in a study of the harmful microbes that plague our devices. 

Food poisoning germ, Bacillus cereus, and pneumonia-causing S. aureus, were also found on each of the 20 swabs taken from 10 phones.

While none of them had traces of Salmonella, half of them did contain P. aeruginosa which is commonly found in cockroach poo.  

Sarah McConomy, COO of SellCell, which ran the study, said: ‘We were interested to find out just how common harmful bacteria is on our mobile phone screens, and what types of bacteria are the most common. 

Taking your phone to the toilet with you was blamed for some of the germs found on screens


E. Coli

Diarrhea, vomiting, respiratory infections, and even urinary tract and bloodstream infections

Fecal Streptococci & Enterococci 

Skin, eye, respiratory tract, and ear diseases. These can also cause urinary tract infections, endocarditis, and bacteremia

Staphylococcus Aureus (S. aureus)

Skin and soft tissue infections, such as cellulitis, abscesses, and furuncles. If more severe, these can develop into bloodstream infections, pneumonia, and even joint infections

Bacillus Cereus

Vomiting and diarrhea

Clostridium Perfringens 

Vomiting, diarrhea, fevers, and lethargy


‘The results were truly shocking, with many forms of bacteria originating from human feces, which really highlights a need for people to thoroughly clean and sanitize their cell phones more often.

‘What was perhaps the most disturbing to see was the presence of P. aeruginosa, a bacteria that comes directly from cockroaches and their poop. 

‘It’s really unsettling to think about cockroaches crawling over our phones and even using them as a bathroom when we’re not looking!’

The study tested the phone screens of devices owned by six females and four males aged between 22 and 62. 

A total of 20 Fecal Streptococci and Enterococci colonies, which form in the stomach and intestines of both humans and animals, were found on the tested screens.

Another 20 colonies of S. aureus were also found in samples, presenting the risk of respiratory infections, skin infections and even food poisoning.

Taking phones into the bathroom was blamed for some of the germs, with researchers claiming that you can be exposed within just five minutes.

Bacteria become airborne when flushing the toilet, increasing the chance of it falling and landing on your phone. 

We then carry them with us, on our phone screens, out of the toilet and into the rest of our homes, where they could even be responsible for spreading diseases,’ SellCell said.

E.Coli is among the germs that can be found in the bathroom.

Taking phones into the bathroom was blamed for some of the germs, with researchers claiming that you can be exposed within just five minutes (stock image)

While many variants are entirely harmless, the more dangerous types live in fresh fecal matter and can cause diarrhea, vomiting, respiratory infections, and even urinary tract and bloodstream infections. 

‘Not only is this an unpleasant image in terms of bacteria living on our mobile phones, it also shows that many of us could be walking around with our own fecal matter on our screens… Screens that we then bring up to our faces to make calls – yuck,’ SellCell added.

Previous research has also shown that smartphones can be covered in up to 10 times as much bacteria as a toilet seat.

This came as more than a third of people in the UK admitted to never cleaning their phone, with one in 20 cleaning their phones less than once every six months. 

Despite this, SellCell says it is unlikely that the quantity of bacteria found on these screens is enough to cause any real damage.

But it stressed that phone owners should keep on top of cleaning and sanitising smartphones with disinfectant wipes – especially after a trip to the toilet. 

Give your PHONE a spring clean with seven essential maintenance steps, expert reveals 

While more than 93% of British households carry out a big spring-clean every year, our smartphones are often neglected the necessary care. 

To ensure your electronics remain clean and in the best condition, Amrit Chatha, mobile expert at has laid out the basics for ensuring you can carry out a thorough spring clean of your mobile device. 

1. Make the screen sparkle: Amrit explained: ‘Alcohol wipes are the safest option for cleaning the exterior of your handset. Mild soap may also be used with a microfibre cloth to avoid scratching the screen, but make sure to dip the cloth into the product rather than spraying any cleaning solution directly on the screen. 

‘When cleaning your screen with any product, avoid openings such as the charging port as they will get damaged by liquid. Once it’s been wiped clean, leave it to air dry.’ 

2. Dig into the charging ports: ‘Charging ports often collect dust and debris which can lead to difficulty charging your phone. It’s important to avoid using any liquids, metal or sharp objects when cleaning out the charging port as this can cause damage to the internal hardware.

 ‘Instead, use a soft, dry object such as a cotton bud, paper towel or toothpick to remove any built-up debris, using gentle sweeping motions.’ 

3. Clear up the camera: ‘The camera is a delicate part of the phone so also demands special care, but like the rest of the phone it can get dirty and affect your image quality. For this, you can use a soft camera brush to sweep dust away from the lens and avoid scratches. 

‘If your camera is particularly dirty it is safe to use a lens wipe, followed by a microfibre cloth for removing any remaining smudges.’ 

4. Don’t pass over the protective case: ‘Phone cases are the easiest step in the cleaning process as you don’t have to worry about any electronic damage. Most phone cases can be cleaned with either a wipe or soapy water and left to air dry. Use a small brush such as a toothbrush to get into the corners and remove any built-up dirt. 

‘Make sure not to put the phone case back on the phone until it is bone dry, as to not let any water seep into the openings of the handset.’ 


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