Contact 6: How dirty is your cell phone?

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There are more cell phones than people in the United States, and many can't imagine life without one. FOX6's Contact 6 performed a swab test, to see just what is on these devices many of us have in our hands every day.

FOX6's Contact 6 swabbed six cell phones for bacteria.

The official swabs came from ST Analytical Laboratories in New Berlin. The tests looked for general bacteria and E. Coli -- because at least 75% of people have used their cell phones in the bathroom.

When the tests were performed and the samples sent off to the lab, microbiologist Gill Kelley said fairly high counts were found on a few of the cell phones.

Kelley said one phone had a 5,200 count of bacteria. It is best to have less than one count per square centimeter, so this phone had about 10 times the amount of bacteria for its surface.

Kelley said this bacteria may or may not be harmful, but said there is always a potential for viruses.

"I certainly don't think most people would find that to be desirable, especially when they're putting that phone next to their face," Kelley said.

A daycare worker's phone had a 160 count of bacteria. A man who uses a bluetooth device and never puts his phone to his face had a 1,800 count of bacteria.

The woman who owns the phone with the most bacteria told FOX6's Contact 6 she cleans her phone every day.

When it comes to cleaning phones, it is best to check the manual. All of them say never to spray any cleaning solution directly onto the phone. It is usually best to use a disinfectant wipe that is bleach free, then rub the phone with a soft cloth.