Think of the germiest jobs you can.
There are some obvious ones – doctor, teacher, garbage man, computer/phone repair tech.
Computer or phone repair tech?
Yes, that’s right.
Did you know that most mobile phone screens contain more germs than a toilet handle in a men’s restroom? And if you’re touching other people’s phones on a daily basis, think of all the fun viruses and bacteria you could be coming in contact with.
In fact, our recent poll suggest cell phone repair tech sanitation habits are fairly poor but there are several simple ways to overcome cell phone germ exposure without scrubbing like an ER doctor.
How Many Germs Are We Talking Here?
You can take a quick questionnaire (my results below) which asks about both you and your cell phones daily habits and get an estimate of how many germs are living on your cell phone.
The results also included a feel-good comparison statistic:
That’s the equivalent of 279 toilet seats!
Of course, it varies depending on the person and their phone. Some are germier than others. But the average phone holds over 18 times more pathogens than a toilet handle in a public restroom. We often think of toilets as breeding grounds for germs (for obvious reasons), but don’t usually think of our phones that way.
While most phones don’t carry the really serious pathogens like E. coli and streptococcus aureus, most carry large amounts of fecal coliforms. The biggest culprit for the transfer of fecal coliforms? Lack of handwashing after using the toilet. In one study, the dirtiest phone had 170 times more fecal coliforms than the acceptable level.
So, handling phones without washing your hands (or cleaning the phone regularly) can lead to colds, flu, pinkeye, and diarrhea. In this CBS segment, the doctor had a patient who contracted MRSA from a cell phone. While colds and flus are bad enough and can force you to take time off work, some things spread by cell phones can be very damaging to your health.
Hygiene Habits of Repair Techs
We sent out a little survey a couple weeks ago to prepare for this article. In the survey we asked a few questions about the hygiene habits of repair techs while at work. Here are the results of the 50 responses we received.
Given the alarming number of germs that can be found on mobile devices and the fact that repair techs are interacting with the public, the fairly low numbers of people who practice basic hygiene surrounding phone repair is disturbing.
We don’t tend to think of phones as being the bastion of germiness that they are, so it’s understandable that we use fewer precautions than health care workers or teachers. Unfortunately, that perception is wrong. Cell phone repair techs come into contact with as many or more pathogens as any health care worker or teacher.
Easy Ways to Protect Yourself at the Shop
- Use hand sanitizer or wash your hands before beginning a repair. This is important to do first, as it prevents you spreading germs you may have already picked up around the shop onto your customer’s device.
- Disinfect the device before starting the repair. This means you won’t pick up any pathogens from the device and spread them to your tools, workstation, and other surfaces in the shop. Using a chemical spray or wipe could be time consuming and costly and can cause damage to a screen. It’s important to figure out a way to disinfect a device without causing damage or taking too much time. One option is the UV light sanitizing wands. While some testing seems to indicate that the UV wands are less effective than wiping a surface with a disinfectant solution (bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or alcohol), none of the usual disinfectants are recommended for use on mobile devices. The goal is not a sterile field, but to reduce the number of pathogens so that techs don’t get sick and/or pass the germs around to others and their devices.
- Disinfect the interior of the device. Most repairs require opening the device, whether it’s a simple button repair or replacing an LCD screen. Viruses and bacteria can migrate to the interior of the device by seeping through the frame. Because of this, the interior can harbor a greater pathogen load than the outside. Techs can also use the UV wands to sanitize the inside of the device once it’s open to further reduce exposure.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after completing a repair. While you have already done your due diligence to reduce the pathogen load in the device you’ve just repaired, best practices include washing your hands or using hand sanitizer after you’ve finished. This is especially important if you were just helping a customer with their device, but didn’t actually have to complete a repair. Any remaining pathogens on the device will end up on your hands, which could then infect you and spread around to coworkers and customers.
These steps will not only protect repair techs and others working in the shop, but will protect customers as well. Letting your customers know that you value their health and will handle their phone in a clean environment can be a great addition to your marketing.
Nifty Cell Phone Cleaning Products (For Retail)
Educating your customers with the same germs and bacteria statistics is likely to provoke them to take extra steps in sanitizing their devices. Many retail products have surfaced in the past few years and serve as a great inexpensive up-sale to a repair customer.
Phone Soap offers both a sanitizing machine which claims to eliminate 99.9% of germs while charging your device at the same time. They also have cleaning microfibers that stick to your device for convenient cleaning; like a moisty nap for your phone that can be stored under a cell phone case or cover. You can contact PhoneSoap for wholesale distribution here.
Antibacterial Screen Protectors on eBay
Many screen protectors can be found on eBay at very good prices and bought cheap enough to be resold in retail environment. To date, the models are fairly limited but do include many of the most popular iPhone, iPad and Android models.
Take Action and Prevent Germs
People regularly clean nearly everything else they use on a daily basis – kitchens, bathrooms, clothes, cars – but they may not realize that their phones and tablets can harbor more germs than a public restroom. You can add value to your customers by offering them advice on safely cleaning and disinfecting their devices, while promoting your shop’s commitment to working in a clean environment and disinfecting all devices brought in for repair.
Most people don’t realize just how dirty and germy their phones can get. When coming in contact with the general public, and especially when handling their devices, it’s important that you protect yourself from contracting illnesses and spreading them to others. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to protect yourself from most pathogens. Basic hygiene goes a long way toward limiting the spread of illness. Institute the tips above and your techs will be healthier and your customers happier.
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