Your phone is gross, but it doesn’t take much effort to clean it up and get rid of all those germs. Here’s how (and why) you should be cleaning and sanitizing your phone and other devices around your house.

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Bacteria, germs, and other gross stuff are all around us. Not all of it’s bad, and some are completely harmless, but it’s easy to come across various germs, fungi, bacteria that have the potential to making you sick. Your phone is just one place where tons of germs are living rent-free.

A Closer Look (Literally)

Think of the dirtiest places in your home, where you might assume germs and bacteria are thriving. The first things that come to mind are likely your bathroom and maybe the kitchen sink, but probably not your phone, keyboard, mouse, and the TV remote.

Contrary to what you may believe, your toilet is probably cleaner than your phone and other devices, and that’s mostly thanks to our constant paranoia of the bathroom being such a germ-invested hellscape, that we tend to clean it more often than other areas or things around the house. Plus, toilet seats are non-porous, and don’t usually have lots of nooks and crannies where grime can hide.

To see for myself, I got a petri dish kit and swabbed a few things in my house, including the inside of my toilet bowl (also neglecting to clean it for a couple of weeks…for science). I then waited about a week and a half and came back to see the results. Here’s what I found:

As you can see, bacteria from my phone screen grew just as much nasty as from the inside of my toilet bowl. Now, you probably wouldn’t swipe your finger along the inside of your toilet bowl without washing your hands afterward. But, you also probably don’t think twice about swiping your finger on your phone all day long.

That’s why we suggest cleaning your phone once in a while.

How to Clean Your Phone & Other Devices

There’s not a whole lot to it when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing your devices, but phones, in particular, can be tricky. You have to be careful with the screen at least.

Most smartphone and tablet screens have an oleophobic coating that keeps fingerprint smudges and oils at bay, making them easier to clean off. However, using any kind of chemical or abrasive material to clean the screen can wear down that special coating.

Isopropyl alcohol is a great disinfectant, but it’s not ideal for gadget screens.

With that in mind, you don’t have a lot of options as far as a cleaning agent, except for water and a microfiber cloth, but some people have also sworn by alcohol- and ammonia-freeĀ cleaning sprays meant for eyeglasses. Whichever you choose, apply the fluid (water or cleaner) to your cloth and then wipe down your phone—spraying water or cleaner directly on your phone severely increases the chances of fluid making its way through cracks and crevices and possibly causing damage.

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It’s not the end of the world if the oleophobic coating eventually rubs off entirely, as it’s possible to re-coat it, but it’s best to preserve it as long as you can.

On other devices around your home, like keyboards, mice, TV remotes, and more, you can be a bit more aggressive and use isopropyl alcohol or any household cleaning agent (Clorox wipes, cleaning spray, etc.), but I like to keep it simple and just use some isopropyl alcohol. Again, though, get your cloth damp first and then wipe down your gadgets.

Don’t Sweat It Too Much

At the end of the day, even if your phone is as dirty as a toilet bowl, whatever doesn’t kill you, right?

It’s easy to get paranoid about germs. One pathologist even recommends cleaning your phone every day, but it’s likely that a huge majority of us don’t even come close to that kind of regular maintenance. Yet we’re still here among the living.

Our advice? Don’t sweat it too much. Just be a bit more aware of the things you should clean (like devices that you use the most) and add them to your regular house cleaning schedule.