A new report makes a macro exposure of the microscopic, yet plentiful bacteria on the tech devices we can’t let go of, and the results are disgusting.

Even though one in four people reveal they’ve never even wiped down their smartphones, a shocking 88% use them while on the toilet, and 46% do it every time. Vital Vio, creators of antibacterial LED tech, shined a light on what’s actually on the surfaces of our cell phones, no matter how clean they appear. When their hands are full, 41% polled admit they’ve held their phones in their mouths.

And a shockingly high percentage (89%) of people take that same used-while-pooping phone into the kitchen while they prepare meals.

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Just gross

We’re disgusting and we’re creating easy opportunities for devices to harbor harmful bacteria that makes its way onto our hands and into our mouths. “The Dirty Truth,” in addition to discovering how only one-in-five (20%) have never sanitized the television remote, reveals just what was found on the average person’s smart phone. The average smartphone is regularly exposed to strep, E. coli, and staph strains containing fecal matter.

The survey polled 1,200 US residents who were over the age of 18, and got them to share the nitty gritty of their daily cleaning habits (spoiler alert: not enough is happening).

Americans’ ‘cleaning’ habits

“We create antimicrobial LED light technology that continuously protects surfaces from the build-up of bacteria, surfaces in places like homes, hospitals, public places and industrial plants like food processing,” Vital Vio CEO Colleen Costello said. “We commissioned this survey to uncover gaps in Americans’ cleaning habits that could be putting all of us, our families and communities at risk from dangerous bacteria. In fact, with the newly released 2019 CDC report focused on the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, it’s more urgent than ever to be keenly aware of the potential harm our personal hygiene and cleaning practices can have on ourselves and those living around us. What is very clear is that Americans need to prioritize cleaning high-touch items found in their daily lives.”

And what’s more “high-touch” than our relied-upon smartphones? The survey uncovered that smartphones may pose the biggest risk when it comes to spreading disease. “Americans are bringing their phones into germ-ridden areas like the bathroom, and then proceeding to put these devices in their mouths when their hands are full or handling them while cooking, without cleaning them first,” Costello said. “Simply put, we are making it easier than ever for bacteria found, for instance on the toilet seat, to touch our lips. It’s important that Americans be more aware and take the necessary steps to make sure they’re smart about their phones to avoid impacting their health.”

Bacteria all over

“Our findings show that each time we touch items in our homes, while traveling, or using our mobile devices, we’re coming into contact with new and potentially harmful forms of bacteria,” Costello revealed. “This is due, in part, to the fact that half of Americans (52%) don’t clean surfaces in their homes unless those surfaces are visibly dirty. Our neglect of these germy surfaces can allow diseases to easily be shared and spread unnoticed to the human eye.”

Smartphones, she noted, “have become a mainstay and lifeline for so many things in our lives,” and while it’s not willfully, most Americans have guilelessly turned their dependence into a hand-carried germ bomb. “Our dependence on these devices could be a big reason for the unnecessary spread of illnesses,” Costello added. “Unfortunately, I believe the vast majority of Americans are simply unaware of the risks associated with picking up and spreading harmful bacteria via their mobile phones.”

Keeping clean

But it doesn’t mean you need to toss your loyal smartphone. Costello advised, “To keep smartphones clean, it’s most important that Americans take time to frequently and completely sanitize their devices. Wiping them down regularly is critical to killing bacteria that inevitably exist and colonize on these devices. Beyond this, consumers should take a proactive approach to stop bacteria from ever coming into contact with their smartphones. This means refraining from bringing them into bacteria-prone areas, such as the bathroom.”

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto