Yes, there are microbes everywhere. Even on your cell phone. Toilets get a bad rap.

CellPhoneOne of our pet peeves are the oft-repeated microbiology stories in the media that consist of “OMG we found bacteria on your chair/house/keyboard/dishwasher/cell phone/toys/books/doorknobs/dusters/vacuum cleaners/”.  There are three issues with this kind of story;  firstly that bacteria are everywhere so no shockers about finding them on your cell phone.  Secondly, most of these stories focus on “dangerous” bacteria without actually measuring such a thing  (e.g. most E.coli are fine).  Thirdly, even if there are pathogens on some of these things, that doesn’t equate to an actual health risk.

When looking for information on something else today I came across this article entitled:

“Smartphones and tablets harbour more germs than toilet seats”

Which brings me to another personal pet peeve of mine.   Contrary to popular belief… toilet seats are quite clean!  Why is that you might ask?  Two reasons.  One is that there just aren’t as many microbes on the part of your body that actually sits on the toilet seat (compared to say, your hands).  Secondly… we clean toilet seats.  Often.  With bleach.

So I’m just going to say it… I would lick a toilet seat before I would lick a cell phone.

David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter