A new UK study has found mobile phones are covered with up to 18 times more living bacteria than the flush handle on a men's lavatory.
An analysis of 30 phones by Which? magazine found that almost a quarter were so dirty that they had up to ten times an acceptable level of TVC bacteria.ne of the phones in the test had such high levels of bacteria it could have given its owner a serious stomach upset.
While TVC is not immediately harmful, elevated levels indicate poor personal hygiene and act as a breeding ground for other bugs.
The findings of the study suggest that 14.7 million of the 63 million mobiles in use in the UK today could be potential health hazards.
The most unhygienic phone had more than ten times the acceptable level of TVC and seven were above the threshold.
This worst handset also had 39 times the safe level of enterobacteria, a group of bacteria that live in the lower intestines of humans and animals and include bugs such as Salmonella.
It boasted 170 times the acceptable level of faecal coliforms, which are associated with human waste.
Other bacteria including food poisoning bugs e.coli and staphylococcus aureus were found on the phones but at safe levels.
"Most phones didn't have any immediately harmful bacteria that would make you sick straight away but they were grubbier than they could be," the Daily Mail quoted Which? researcher Ceri Stanaway as saying.
"The bugs can end up on your hands which is a breeding ground and be passed back to your phone. They can be transferred back and forth and eventually you could catch something nasty.
"What this shows is how easy it is to come into contact with bacteria. People see toilet flushes as being something dirty to touch but they have less bacteria than phones.
"People need to be mindful of that by observing good hygiene themselves and among others who they pass the phone to when looking at photos, for example," Stanaway added.