5 min read

What is Growing on Your Mobile Devices?

by | Jul 13, 2020

When was the last time you cleaned your phone or tablet? Be honest.

The Daily News visited the Apple Store in NYC to see what they might find upon the surfaces of the tablets and iPhones on display. It is no surprise that they found lots of interesting and dangerous bacteria including Staphylococcus Aureus, Corynebacterium Minutisslmum, among others. [1]

This question was asked of healthcare workers (HCWs) about their personal electronic devices. HCWs admitted that 80% of the PDAs, 85% of the mobile phones, and 96% of the pagers had never been cleaned by the owner. [2]

Why should you be concerned?

Bacteria is everywhere, we live among it and our healthy body’s immune systems are capable of fending off their potential impact quite well. However, for the unhealthy whose immune systems are suppressed, especially patients undergoing care within a hospital, the risk of becoming infected by these lingering pathogens is a serious danger. Even healthy people have cause for careful cleaning and disinfection measures, as we all know how quickly germs spread during flu season.

Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) are a devastating problem. Each year approximately 1.7 Million people enter a hospital for care and contract an infection during their stay. Almost 100,000 of those people unfortunately die. While hand-washing awareness is of primary concern, 100% compliance has simply not been achievable due to the time it requires, irritation to the hands over time, and simply relying on precise human discipline. [3,4,5]

If you are a healthcare worker, or someone exposed to germ-ridden environments, precautions are a wise step to prevent the possibility of transferring pathogens amongst both those within the facility and even back to your own home. The very nature of our new and wonderful mobile devices involves touch; our interaction with our tablets and phones require the use of our fingers, which are the primary culprit in the transference of organisms from surface to person. [6]

Even more concerning than the challenges of hand washing compliance, is the fact that pathogens linger on surfaces. Organisms inhabiting inanimate surfaces can linger for hours, and in many cases months depending on the species. Unfortunately, many of the top ten most common pathogens that account for over 80% of the hospital acquired infections in the US are also among the organisms capable of surviving the longest on surfaces. [7,8,9]

Ten most common pathogens that account for 84% of all HAIs [7]

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Persistence of clinically relevant bacteria on dry inanimate surfaces [9] 

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If you carry your device in and out of germ sensitive areas, please be safe and spend a moment to clean and disinfect your device. If you choose to use chemical-based disinfection, be sure to adhere to all printed instructions to ensure effectiveness, and be careful not to damage your device.

If you’re looking for some assistance managing your disinfection tactics, ReadyDock’s free CleanMe utility was designed to help remind you to clean and disinfect your devices, and the ReadyDock:UV can securely store, charge, and disinfect your tablets automatically without using chemicals.

About the Author

David Engelhardt has over 26 years of experience in software and hardware solutions development in healthcare and manufacturing, with a particular focus on mobile technologies. David is the founder and President of ReadyDock Inc. He is passionate and committed to providing safe, and workflow efficient methods to enable clinicians and patients to enhance care through the use of innovative technologies. In the small window of time when he is not working or spending time with his amazing wife and daughter, he spends his time playing USTA tennis, collecting vinyl records, and shaping music and sound in his recording studio.


  1. Yaniv, O. (2010, June 5). Do they have an app for hand sanitizer? demo ipads at city apple store are crawling with bacteria. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/news/app-alling-demo-ipads-found-crawling-bacteria-article-1.179212
  2. Brady RR, Fraser SF, Dunlop MG, Paterson-Brown S, Gibb AP. Bacterial contamination of mobile communication devices in the operative environment. J Hosp Infect 2007 Aug;66(4):397-398.
  3. Boyce, J., Kelliher, S., & Vallande, N. (2000, July 21).Skin irritation and dryness associated with two hand-hygiene regimens: soap-and-water hand washing versus hand antisepsis with an alcoholic hand gel.. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10926393
  4. The Joint Commission. (2009). Measuring hand hygiene adherence: Overcoming the challenges. Retrieved from http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/hh_monograph.pdf
  5. Pittet, D., Mourouga, P., & Perneger, T. (1999, January 11). Compliance with handwashing in a teaching hospital. infection control program. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10068358?dopt=Abstract&holding=f1000,f1000m,isrctn
  6. Sellers, D. (2013, January 11). Strategies to achieve hand hygiene compliance: Overcoming challenges & emphasizing engagement. Retrieved from http://www.beckersasc.com/asc-quality-infection-control/strategies-to-achieve-hand-hygiene-compliance-overcoming-challenges-a-emphasizing-engagement.html
  7. Hidron, A., Edwards, J., Patel, J., Horan, T., Sievert, D., & Pollock, D. (2008, November). Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens associated with healthcare-associated infections: Annual summary of data reported to the national healthcare safety network at the centers for disease control and prevention, 2006–2007. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nhsn/PDFs/AR_report2008.pdf
  8. Gould D. Commentary: Ulger F et al. (2009). Are we aware how contaminated our mobile phones with nosocomial pathogens? Nurs Crit Care 2009;14(4):213-214.
  9. Kramer et al. BMC Infectious Diseases 2006 6:130 doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-130

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