back to article Sixth of Britain's cellphones have traces of poo on them

One in every six mobiles in the UK has got traces of poo on it, according to a new study. Scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Queen Mary, University of London, found that mobes were typically contaminated with faecal matter because people still didn't wash their hands properly with soap …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You mean I SHOULDN'T be keeping my mobile up my bum?

    Dang, you learn summat new every day...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You do have it set to vibrate, right?

  2. Mark Wilson

    When I am in a classroom I always put the kids off eating in an IT room by pointing out the fact that most home computer keyboards have more bacteria than a toilet seat. A lot of them suddenly loose their appetite. I suspect those who don't probably don't wash their hands anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If I may add a: Yeah, but...

      Chopping boards have three times the bacteria of a toilet seat and as I don't get food poisoning all the time the answer is:

      Well, that's obviously alright then.

      Chopping boards, crucially, don't have fecal bacteria. The odd keyboard may and I certainly won't go for the nuts in my local...

  3. Steve Evans

    Why pick on phone, good daily-fail headline grabber I supposed, but they should check a few more surfaces.

    I think you'd be hard pressed to exit a pub toilet without getting something on your hands from the taps, door handle etc etc etc... Then stand on the bus/tube on the way home and grab something to steady yourself... Oh dear...

    So as always, wash your hands before sticking them in your mouth or cooking.

    Oh, but don't go completely anal about it, exposure to things does help the immune system, it's one of the theories why there are more allergies these days, kids just don't get out into the garden and eating worms like they used to - they don't get past the door way before an over protective parent dives on them with an anti-bac spray.

  4. shoesday

    Obviously mainly Blackberry users

    Taking Research In Motion way too literally :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Research In Motion

      Blackberry or Dangleberry?

      But seriously - was it the E-Coli on the blackberrys that caused the recent outage?

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      You mean to say..

      .. Research OF Motion ..

      The one with the bog roll, thanks..

  5. Paul RND*1000

    I'll keep this in mind the next time I decide to lick some random person's mobile phone.

  6. cloudgazer

    c'mon what we really want to know is whether Android phones are more poo splattered than iPhones.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have always known that Iphones were shitty. Now I have proof.

  8. Simpson

    Everything has traces of poo on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Still with the dirty protest? They'll put you in solitary again!

  9. Mr Young

    In other news...

    Six in every six humans in the UK has got traces of poo on it

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about iPads...

    ... I use mine to read The Reg while on the crapper

    1. Jedit

      The obvious joke

      You've got more than traces of poo on your hands if you're using an iPad - you've got the whole turd.

      (Yes, yes, I know, but *someone* was going to say it...)

  11. You're my wife now Dave

    Angry turds?

    Everyone normally has bacteria (mainly friendly flora) on their hands, so were the 16% tested without working in the bleach factory at the time?

  12. Wize


    ...its not on something we regularly put near our faces.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      But it's on everything we regularly put near our faeces......

  13. I'm Brian and so's my wife

    95% used soap, where available

    Rubbish, or the sample is not representative. The number of men I see splash their hands or just walk straight out is disgusting and certainly not 5%. Why the aversion to soap? Totally gross.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the good ol' days

    Before mobile phones, iPads and Kindle, it was accepted practice to have a newspaper, magazine or book (anyone used to read viz?) in the little room. This had the added advantage, that if you run out of loo paper then there was a ready made solution.

    Perhaps people are using their new gadgets as surrogate shite-paper? The iScrape perhaps?

    To be on the safe side, I always wash my hands after reading the Register.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "To be on the safe side, I always wash my hands after reading the Register."

      Hahahahahaa (I hate lol)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I remember one of their 'Top Tips' - "save money on toilet paper by..." actually it's too disgusting.

  15. Gary F

    I've witnessed this cr*p

    I've seen/heard too many men in toilets in offices run their hands under water for as little as 1 second. How is that supposed to wash them?

    Soap AND warm water is needed for at least 10 seconds of vigourous rubbing after doing a wee or at least 15 secs after doing a poo. If someone has experience toilet paper malfunction they should wash their hands twice paying attention to rubbing finger tips too.

    How many people leave a public toilet by pulling open a door by a handle or pushing using the palm of their hand? Congratulations, you've scooped up other people's poo germs. How many cleaners bother to clean door handles regularly? Hardly any.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I recently got taught how to wash my hands by a friend who works for the NHS - I'm 37, so thought something along the lines of "patronising cow, I know full well how to wash my hands." which was shortly followed by a "how has no-one bothered to teach me this, I'm 37 and have only just learned how to wash my hands properly."

      I had a similar moment when a new dental hygenist taught me how to clean my teeth at the age of about 29.

    2. Oninoshiko

      on the flip side, those auto-dodgy-matic sinks don't exactly make a proper wash easy, either.

      (grr.. I hate those things, nothing ruins your self-esteem for the day like being declared unworthy by a machine)

    3. peter_dtm

      ever wondered how our parents and grandparents before them (even unto the 4th generation) survived ?

      If you kill all the bacteria on your skin you'll get skin diseases pretty damn quickly - there used to be a name for it - some syndrome or other and it is EXTREMELY unhealthy to be obsessively clean if you don't need to be. Personally - I was taught not to wee on my hands

      Since most of you don't work in sterile conditions - you don't need to be obsessing about being sterile.

      A bit of dirt and several billion bugs are good for you a lack of either is already known to be bad for you

      Is this the next stupid alarmism ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, yes, furthermore MRSA is actually full of vitamins, the old buggers should be PAYING us to smear poo on their hospital wards.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        but.. butt..

        "Personally - I was taught not to wee on my hands"

        Aha - but were you told to keep your hands out of the way of a number one? Obvious gap there (take that any way you want - boom boom).

        The bugs in faeces are *not* good for you, and you find in many cultures taboos that emerge to originate in primitive hygiene. Example; you never shake someone's left hand in some Asian countries, especially if you're inland. It appears a taboo, but the background is actually sanitary - I don't think you need much help working out what that left hand is used for. Quite unfortunate for left handed people, btw.

        It's also a standard disruption tactic by special forces to let some faeces "develop" before spreading the good news and get everyone rather serously ill. We all have bio warfare tools built in - some just need a good curry.

        I'll have obsessively clean over "missed my annual bath twice" any time. And don't try to shake hands with me.

        1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


          "Example; you never shake someone's left hand in some Asian countries"

          What!!! But is the scouts they told us that B-P said you shake hands with the left hand because you had to put down your shield to shake hands, you mean.....


          wait for it....


          You'll never guess what I'm going to say...


          It's all a load of crap!

          Mine's the one covered in dib-dib-dib

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Indeed, what the fuck is that about - all public toilets seem to require pulling a handle to exit - wtf?

      1. nyelvmark

        all public toilets seem to require pulling a handle to exit.

        But consider the alternative - outside there's a rather confused person who's breaking his neck for a piss but can't work out why simply staggering into the door doesn't work. Not only do you risk braining him with the door as you shoulder-charge it to open it without sullying your freshly-scrubbed hands, there's also the risk that he might piss all over you in shock.

    5. cloudgazer

      'Soap AND warm water is needed for at least 10 seconds of vigourous rubbing after doing a wee'

      Unless you have something significantly wrong with you such as a UTI, your pee will be sterile. Obviously it's good manners to wash your hands properly after peeing, but it's a far smaller deal than putting down the toilet lid before flushing from a bacterial perspective.

  16. Spoobistle

    Tide of Filth

    I'm surprised it isn't more than 1 in 6 - at least it's likely to be your own poop-flora unless you have some genuinely bizarre phone habits. In fact probably a good way of deterring muggers - "well you can have it but you'd better go over it with bleach..."

  17. Alan Firminger

    Tests a few years ago found that about 50 % of people on their way to work have shit on their hands.

    1. Elmer Phud

      and way over 50% of all politicians

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sink next to the toilet

    Here's what puzzles me about toilets - why are the sinks almost always far away from the toilet and not right next to it?

    Think about it, you do your business, pull up your clothes, tighten belts, buttons etc. then walk out and to the sink, leaving bacteria on your clothes because you couldn't wash your hands before pulling them up.

    But on the other hand, living in an environment that's too clean may not be beneficial to your immune system.

  19. Scott Broukell

    I for one am glad ....

    ... that they are getting to the bottom of this.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    While I do wash my hands, I sometimes think its a bit pointless if the person who grabbed the door handles before you hasn't :(

  21. Steve Button

    Playing angry birds on the toilet?

    Do lots of people really do that?

    I thought it was only me.

    Doesn't surprise me that brummies don't wash their hands.

    1. Nanki Poo

      No, Steve . . .

      brummies just play with angry birds a lot.


  22. HMB

    So When's the Excessive Hygeine Story coming?

    You know, the story that we are all far too hygienic and that's why serious allergies and auto immune diseases are on the rise?

    Also, how do you know that when I wash my hands, pulling the handle on the door doesn't re contaminate my hands with e.coli from the last dirty person?


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somewhat alarmist

    The focus on the statistic of "82 per cent of hands had bacteria on them." is somewhat misleading.

    Humans are NOT sterile, we harbour bacteria both in our gut and on our skin, we have various Streptococcal and Staphylococcal species among others, in our nose, ears, mouth etc.

    Under normal conditions they do not threaten our health or lead to disease.

    The incidence of faecal indicator bacteria, now that part is a little alarming, if not a huge surprise. Cleaning ones hands after using the bathroom is highly recommended.

    Attempting to maintain sterility of your skin is futile and the kinds of detergents necessary to go down that route would be harmful in the quantities and frequency of application required.

    Just my 2 cents.

  24. Anonymous Coward


    ...I DO NOT want to borrow your phone.

  25. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Can you send these boffins with clearly too much time on the ... erm ... hands over to my office to check for:

    - Faecal matter on the coffee machine (not to mention mold)

    - Faecal matter on the office phones, upholstery, keyboards, door handles, LAN cables and routers, office floor mats (DEFINITELY OFFICE FLOOR MATS) and possibly the CPU fans.

    I'm sure there will be SURPRISES.

    But I can exhort my cow-orkers to wash hand all day, to no avail.

    1. J 3

      I can exhort my cow-orkers

      Was that on purpose? I hope it was, because I will adopt that spelling from now on.

      1. nyelvmark


        That joke is hardly hot-off-the-press. Google it.

  26. mafoo

    6th of Britain's cellphones have traces of poo on them

    What? the run symbian?

    De dum cha!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all well and good washing your hands

    but then you have to deal with a door handle covered in the shitty fingerprints of those soap-dodgers who went before

  28. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    And in other news there is more harmful gunk currently residing in your mouth than in your bum.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Push Push PUSH!!!!! </slap> <Waaaaaaaaggggh>

    When my son was being born, the midwife described to the missus "when it feels like you need a poo, just push like you normally would and hard". The missus asked "but what if I end up pooing on the babies head instead?", the midwife responded "that isn't a problem, it's the best thing for the baby's immune system!".

    I remember my doctor telling me years ago, that if people followed just basic hygiene practices such as washing your hands before meals, there'd be less disease in the world, and that all this "kill all germs and bacteria at any cost, dammit man spray your hands and take these wipes with you and disinfect your keyboard!!" was counter productive, promoted disease and actually resulted in the body being less able to fight infection.

    So I think we're in need of a bit more real life 2-girls-1-cup!

    *For the record I wash my hands with soap after using the amenities for 1's or 2's, but I also wash my hands before using them to put food in my mouth. If my hands get dirty inbetween, I leave it to my immune system.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phones have shit on them

    Judging by the amount of fart apps and other junk, I'd say that yes - many phones have lots of shit on them

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this really a problem?

    Bacteria is on everything we handle and it seldom causes a problem. We have an immune system for a very good reason, and for most people it does an admirable job in protecting us. Are there any studies that show that the bacteria on phones is causing infections? If this were a real problem, people would be getting sick from bacterial infections -- and they're not. The vast majority of illnesses that most people get are viral, not bacterial. I would be far more concerned about catching an airborne virus while riding in a commercial airliner, bus, or subway than catching a bacterial infection from a dirty phone.

  32. jonathanb Silver badge

    I think the problem is that while most people do wash their hands, they don't do it properly, and in particular they don't dry their hands afterwards. If you just dip your hands under the running tap for a second, and don't dry them properly, that is actually worse than not washing them at all.

    Ideally, you should wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, dry them with a paper towel, then dry them a bit more in a hand drier, then use an alcohol gel to kill any remaining nasties.

  33. nyelvmark

    Hmm. Why no mention of quantities? E-coli is a bit like like radiation - there's never none, except where there are no animals. I'm pretty sure that if you took samples from church roofs or gravestones you would find minute quantities of E-coli. The question is, how much did they find on the phones and is there any significance to that, health-wise?

    The silence of the article on this may give us a clue.

  34. G R Goslin


    I could never understand why the fuss, . since the whole of your digestive system is stuffed with bacteria. I once read that 40% of what you excrete is bacteria. What can be the harm in sending the stuff round for a second trip. So long as it's your particular mix of bacteria, that is. No other animal seems to give a damn. Are we some sort of alien on this planet?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      good plot for War of the worlds tho.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If we didn't make a fuss then GSK and kin would not make billions in profit. Good plot for War of the worlds tho.

  35. Alister Silver badge

    the "B" Ark

    Quick, tell 'em we want our telephone sanitizers back...

  36. Nunyabiznes

    I fart in the general direction of your mobile device.

  37. carter brandon

    So, which hand do you wipe your arse with?

    1. Elmer Phud

      there's an app for that -- iWipe

    2. Charles Augustus Milverton

      My cat uses her tongue !

    3. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Neither - I use bog paper

  38. Anonymous Coward

    1 in 6 will die!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we are all doomed!

    unless you can remove the last sheet from the previous visitor on the roll without touching it, you've just picked up SOMEONE ELSES sh te!

    More chance of touching a loo roll than a strangers phone!

  40. Puck

    A good case for getting a Motorola Defy

    Waterproof up to 1m - can therefore be bathed in disinfectant solution, or?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does Gary F need warm water? I would think cold water + soap works just as well unless your "warm" water is approaching 333 kelvin. Maybe it just feels nicer?

    This sort of study reminds me of the forensic test they sometimes do on Top Gear. A good source of sophomoric humour, e.g. "your phone/car/hands are covered in poo!" but not of any real consequence.

    Most bank notes have traces of cocaine on them. You're not going to get high from licking all your reddies any more than you will get seriously ill by eating a sandwich between texts.

  42. Mediocrates

    The phones don't have poo on them...

    ...they're MADE of poo!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apols to Python

    Large Man with Dead Body: Who's that then?

    The Dead Collector: I dunno, mustn't be an iPhone user.

    Large Man with Dead Body: Why?

    The Dead Collector: He hasn't got shit all over him.

  44. Slickjdip

    Poo phone

    You can thank the wipe your ass app for this

  45. DanceMan
    Paris Hilton

    Good thing............

    Good thing they didn't test for cum, given what some folks use their phones to access.

    Paris, because, well, obviously.

  46. El Andy

    When I heard a sixth of phones had crap on them, I assumed it was a reference to Android.

  47. Graham Marsden

    To quote the Hitch Hiker's Guide...


    ”Golgafrincham Ark Fleet. Ship B. Hold Seven: Telephone Sanitizer, Second Class.” And a serial number!


    ”Telephone Sanitizer”? A dead telephone sanitizer?


    Best kind.

  48. Stefan

    Farticles anyone?

    I elect never to use the cubicles at work as some of my IT peeps in my office have a diet that can cause some quite expoosive, not to mention, stinky outpoot. I think this is a common thing with IT.

    And I always try and let someone else get the door on the way out.

    Saying that, I do remember a brainiacs epoosode where they tested toothbrushes and that was very enlightening I have to say. So phones are just the tip of the poo-berg.

    This comment coming to you from the crapper!

  49. heyrick Silver badge

    You don't NEED to wash your hands after passing a motion...

    I'm not saying you shouldn't, as walking around with shit-laden fingers is extremely gross. However, in the rules of food hygiene, washing your hands after going to the toilet does little for you. Why? As others have pointed out, the door you push to get out. Lift buttons. Keyboards or, God help us, public phones. Taxi handles. Those strap things you hold on to on the tube. There are literally thousands of infectious vectors ALL OUT TO KILL US (there you go, there's Monday's alarmist headline).

    Hygiene in the outside world requires everybody to clean their hands properly at all times, and God knows we've all witnessed enough people either passing their hands under the tap so quickly they're barely wet, or just not even bothering. There's also the old adage of certain cultures using one hand to eat and the other to...

    The most important thing is not whether or not you wash your hands after visiting the crapper, but whether or not you wash your hands before eating, handling food, or watching a film while stuffing yourself; because in these cases you risk setting up a direct chain of contamination roughly akin to crap->hands->nachos->gut=bleugh!

  50. auburnman

    Might vs Do

    Wash your hands after going to the toilet but handle the door on the way out - MIGHT have shit on your hands.

    Go to the toilet and leave without washing your hands - DO have shit on your hands.

    To take a ridiculous extreme example, you don't take the fact that another driver might crash into you and kill you as free reign for you to clart round town at 100mph ignoring all the lights.

    Sent from my Porcelain Throne

  51. Dick Emery

    Most germs get into your body from touching around your eyes like rubbing sleep bits from the corners. It's one of the most common way colds and flu viruses spread.

  52. Anonymous Coward

    Two girls, one phone.

  53. Yag

    And they wonder why...

    ... I refuse to shake hand to everyone at my job's on the morning.

  54. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    @Gary F

    "..Soap AND warm water is needed for at least 10 seconds of vigourous rubbing after doing a wee or at least 15 secs after doing a poo. If someone has experience toilet paper malfunction they should wash their hands twice paying attention to rubbing finger tips too..."

    I feel some regulatory legislation and associated 'stealth' fines coming on....

    To the tune of that Donna Summer '80s song...

  55. Lloyd


    You know when you get out the shower every day and give yourself a rub down with a towel? How much fecal matter do you think you're distributing around your body? And you're worried about your phone?

    1. heyrick Silver badge


      TMI, dude. It may be true, but sometimes ignorance is bliss.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Soap AND warm water is needed for at least 10 seconds of vigourous rubbing after doing a wee "

    What? Warm water? We're supposed to be killing the bacteria, not breeding it.

    And where does that 10 seconds come from? I think that figure might have some e coli on it too.

    Quite frankly, in most pub loos, my cock is by far the cleanest thing in the room. I'm certainly not going near the sinks. No different to washing your hands in an urinal.

  57. NomNomNom

    wait if this is true how come we can't drive while using a mobile?

  58. ashenkar
    Thumb Up

    Bacterminator Phone Covers!

    I recommend picking up a Bacterminator cover for your iPhone, Android, Blackberry or iPad! They are antibacterial and non toxic for up to 3 years with heavy use. I love knowing that my iPhone is not picking up any germs from every bar, tabletop, desk or surface I put it on. I got mine at

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