Here’s why scientists really want you to clean your smartwatch

Over the last decade, smartphones have gained immense popularity, leading to a rise in research papers emphasizing their uncleanliness. Recent studies conducted by the University of Arizona revealed that smartphones can harbor up to ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Furthermore, a publication in Nature highlighted the urgent need for stringent public health and biosecurity measures to mitigate the risks associated with microbial infections. Stay informed and prioritize hygiene to ensure your smartphone remains clean and safe.

Health wearables like smartwatches and fitness bands have become an integral part of our daily lives. However, a study conducted by researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science revealed that almost 95% of wearable straps are contaminated with different types of bacteria. Learn more about the impact of bacteria on wearable devices here.

clean your smartwatch
clean your smartwatch

According to a study published in the Advances in Infectious Diseases journal, different types of band materials have varying levels of contamination. Rubber- and plastic-based materials were found to have the highest degree of contamination, while metal-based bands with gold and silver demonstrated the lowest bacterial activity. The research paper also mentioned that the bacterial load can vary based on a person’s occupation and gender. Understanding these findings can help in selecting the most appropriate band materials for optimal hygiene.

As part of the test, our team conducted a thorough analysis of bands made from various materials like rubber, plastic, fabrics, leather, and metal. These bands were worn by individuals in different professions, including firefighting, desk jobs, driving, and veterinary work. While the nature of the job indeed impacts the exposure to pathogens, the surface and texture of the band are the most critical factors. Notably, gym-goers and veterinary experts had the highest concentration of different pathogenic species residing on their band and strap surfaces.

Interestingly, the study revealed that rubber and fabric straps showed the highest concentration of pathogens. Now, you might wonder about bands claiming to have antibacterial properties. According to Nwadiuto Esiobu, a senior researcher at Florida Atlantic University, there’s a catch. While antibacterial products can provide short-term kill, they may also contribute to the development of drug and antibiotic resistance among resident and transient bacteria, making it a double-edged sword.

A breeding ground for dangerous pathogens

During our test, our team discovered that Staphylococci, Pseudomonads, and Enterobacteriaceae are the most prevalent pathogens residing on straps and bands. The first pathogen on the list is an opportunistic one that can cause infections in the blood, resulting in significant medical expenses, estimated at $2 billion annually in the United States.

Another strain detected in our test, S. aureus, has the potential to induce blood clotting, infective endocarditis, and fatal organ failure. Overall, we found the highest concentration of Staphylococcus bacteria on plastic bands, followed by fabric, rubber, and leather bands. In contrast, metal bands, particularly those with silver and gold components, demonstrated minimal or no bacterial presence.

Our findings shed light on the importance of regular cleaning and maintenance of these bands to minimize the risk of infection. Stay informed and make informed decisions to ensure your health and well-being.

Rubber and plastic bands can harbour dangerous pathogens like Pseudomonas aeuginosa, known to cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). The revealed the presence of Enterobacteria, particularly Escherichia Coli, which is associated with fecal-oral infections and was predominantly found on plastic and rubber bands. This highlights the importance of proper hygiene and cleanliness when handling such items. Stay informed and keep yourself protected!

The research paper suggests that certain surfaces, like rubber and plastic bands, can harbor pathogens easily. In contrast, metals are found to be a safer option. Metals hinder the enzymes on bacteria’s membranes, resulting in the gradual elimination of persistent bacteria. In addition to their safety benefits, metal bands have a sleek and classy appearance that complements high-end watches. Nomad offers a great selection of metallic straps. While metal bands may be slightly more expensive, their worth is undeniable, especially for watches that cost a few hundred dollars. Invest in safety and style with Nomad’s metallic straps.

How to safely clean your smartwatch band

When conducting the cleaning test, the team evaluated three types of cleansers: Lysol Disinfectant Spray, 70% Ethanol, and apple cider vinegar. Both Lysol and ethanol solutions demonstrated impressive results with just a 30-second exposure, significantly reducing the bacteria count. However, apple cider vinegar required 2 minutes to achieve the same outcome.

Additionally, Samsung and Apple offer a variety of smartwatch bands made from different materials such as leather, fluoroelastomer, stainless steel, silicone, thermoplastic, polyurethane, woven nylon, polyester yarn, and fluorocarbon rubber. It’s important to note that depending on the strap material, the type of cleaning fluid may need to be adjusted accordingly to attain optimal results while avoiding any potential damage.

Maintaining clean wearables is crucial for optimal performance. After workouts, it is recommended by both companies to clean the bands and straps to avoid unpleasant odors caused by bacterial fermentation. Apple suggests using 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe, 75% ethyl alcohol wipe, or Clorox disinfectant wipes for certain band types like the Sport band, Ocean band, or Solo Loop strap.

For metal-based straps, if available, they are a good option. Other household items like nail polish remover, quaternary ammonium soaps, and lemon juice can also help to some extent in controlling pathogenic growth, but be cautious as some bands may get discolored. Avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals like hydrogen peroxide. Apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute cleaning solution if needed. Ensure the bands are dipped in vinegar for at least 2 minutes for effective microbial elimination. Prioritize cleanliness for long-lasting wearable performance.

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