The Gross Reason I Won’t Bring My Cell Phone into My Kitchen

updated May 1, 2019
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If you’ve ever scrolled through Facebook, checked emails, or searched for the perfect playlist on your phone will sitting down at dinner, please, please stop. Beyond being just a little bit rude to your partner or your kids, it’s straight-up unhygienic.

Think about it: You carry that phone with you all day long, and handle it without thinking after you touch a subway pole, pull cash out of your pocket for coffee, or pull open the door to the bathroom. If you, like the average American, handle your phone 47 times a day, I’m going to guess that you don’t always wash your hands before you touch it. And that means all of the bacteria that your hands encounter in those germy spots goes straight from your fingers to your phone. Yikes!

A recent study found more than 17,000 different bacterial gene copies on the cell phones of high schoolers, and researchers at the University of Arizona found that cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. While much of that bacteria is normal and the kind you’d expect to have on your skin (meaning: it’s not going to make you sick), some studies have found serious pathogens lingering on mobile phones, including E. coli, Streptococcus, and MRSA. And this becomes an issue when you’re possibly ingesting this bacteria … as in, sitting at the dinner table or even passing it along during food prep.

You can certainly clean your cell phone — most pros recommend wiping it with a damp microfiber cloth, as chemicals can compromise the integrity of the screen and other features — but the reality is that we all touch our cell phones so much, we probably can’t ever expect them to be sterile.

For that reason, my cell phone is banned from the kitchen counters and the kitchen table. It’s just too tempting to reach for it while I’m in the middle of cooking dinner or eating, and I’m not conditioned to wash my hands every time I touch it! I also make a practice of washing my hands before and during dinner prep, so that I’m making an effort not to introduce bacteria into our meals. Plus — isn’t it nice just to enjoy dinner prep, or eating a meal, without a screen nearby?

What about you? Do you bring your cell phone into the kitchen?