Your Smartphone May Be Dirtier Than Your Toilet Seat

Here's a "dirty question" for you... What's a germ-ridden object you carry around with you and use all the time?

If you said your smartphone or tablet, you're correct!

One study reveals your smartphone could be dirtier than a toilet seat!

So how do you get rid of those germs?

There are a lot of products on the market that claim to do the trick, but do they really work? Are they worth the money?

KMPH Fox 26 News put these products to the test.

We talked with a group of college students who let us swab their smartphones for germs and when they saw the results they were shocked.

Student Xandy Peterson said, "I use it for everything, and I, I have it in bed with me and I eat with it next to me, so I think my exposure is, is high."

So what do they use to try to clean off this microscopic gunk?

Do you have to shell out cash for specialized phone "hygiene products"?

Xandy and her classmates let us use their devices to try products that claim to disinfect or sanitize electronics.

Working with microbiology professor, Charles Gerba, a top researcher on mobile equipment and the spread of germs from the University of Arizona, we tested how these products tackle bacteria. "With mobile equipment we've made more germs more mobile today. They can move around," said Gerba.

Phone Kleen Wipes claim to disinfect cell phones and they cost about $20. But, do they work? "They reduced the number of bacteria to an undetectable level," said Gerba.

Cleanwell Disinfectant Spray says it kills 99.99% of germs. In our test it got rid of about 95.55% and cost $8. "The spray solution seemed to eliminate the number of bacteria very readily from the surface," said Gerba.

What about UV light cleaners? A portable UV disinfector says it kills 99 percent of germs, sells for less than $10, and had to tackle the dirtiest phone of the bunch. Our test showed it reduced about 73% of germs.

A more expensive Clean Wave Sanitizing Wand, which runs about $40, makes the same claim and Professor Gerba says it reduced the germs down to zero.

How did these products perform?

"I was surprised that all of them seemed to work fairly well in reducing the number of germs on the phones," said Gerba.

While getting germs off your phone is important, experts say you have to be sure not to wreck it in the process.

Electronics expert Todd Hasleton says be careful with things like sprays and wipes. "You could accidentally get liquid inside the headphone jack, which would ruin your audio experience inside the speakers; get liquid inside the speakers, inside the microphone, in which case nobody would be able to hear you on the phone. Or you could get it inside of the charging port, which could fry your electronic completely."

As for whether you need to shell out cash for a specialized product we also tested how well a simple microfiber cloth gets rid of germs.

On the phone we used, the cloth actually got rid of all the bacteria.

Professor Gerba says it's also important to always use a clean cloth.

Electronics experts say some phones in development will have anti-microbial covers and will be water resistant.