Take a look at your smartphone – even if it looks spotless, it could be plastered with bacteria that can cause you to develop everything from the flu, to pinkeye, to diarrhea. That’s according to a nasty new study from the Medical University of South Carolina. And because of the smartphones proximity to our hands, nose, and mouth – all those germs are just a finger swipe away.

Now, you may say – well, the same goes for anything we touch and hold. But here’s what makes the difference.  We take our phones everywhere – from restaurant tables, to public bathrooms, to setting them on the elliptical machine at the gym. And although you may wash your hands – you probably don’t wipe down your phone after each activity. And that greasy smear from your finger at the dinner table, feeds those microbes even more. 

So how bad is it? When the researchers swabbed volunteers’ phones, every single one had sky high levels of coliform – that’s fecal bacteria! That means, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, people are just as likely to get sick from their phones as from bathroom door handles.

So what’s the best cleaning method? The researchers tested that too. They tried water, rubbing alcohol, Windex glass cleaner and Nice 'N Clean electronic cleaning wipes. The winner? Alcohol performed best, removing nearly 100% of the bacteria. Plain water was the least effective.