How dirty is your mobile phone?

Do you think your mobile phone is clean? In this science experiment, some British teenagers discover how dirty their phones really are.


Do the preparation task first. Then watch the video and do the exercises. Remember you can read the transcript at any time.


Presenter: Oh yeah, just one second. I’ll put her on, she’s just here. It’s for you!

Pupil 1: Hello? Yes, I’ve got my lunch. Yes, I’ve done all my homework.

Presenter: Now, of course we’re only joking here. You wouldn’t usually put a toilet seat up against your ear, would you? Toilet seats have millions of bugs on them, but did you know that this thing could be even dirtier? And you’re holding it up to your face, near your mouth, every single day.

Pupils: Ugh!

Presenter: We love our mobile phones, don’t we? They hang out with us, they eat with us and even come to the toilet with us.

Presenter: (goes into the toilet) Hello? No, I’m not busy, I’m just going to the loo, yeah.

Presenter: (leaves the toilet) OK, gotta go. See you later. Bye.

Presenter: I’m here with a bunch of keen young scientists and we’re about to play ‘How manky is your mobile?’ So, Mr O’Callahan, how are we going to find that out?

Mr O’Callahan: Well, we can use my special gadget here. Now, all living things produce ATP. So the more ATP that we measure on this machine, the more bacteria and living things living on our phones.

Presenter: Sort of like a gross-ometer then, isn’t it?

Mr OCallahan: Yeah, a bit. Anything below 100 is quite clean. But anything above 100 is a bit manky. And then anything above 200 is really gross.

Presenter: If it’s above 200, could there be sort of harmful bugs on there that could cause diseases?

Mr OCallahan: Yeah, they may be harmful, but not all bugs are harmful.

Presenter: So just because bugs are there doesn’t mean they’re necessarily harmful.

Mr OCallahan: No.

Presenter: OK, that’s good to know. All right, so who wants to go first?

Pupils: Me!

Mr OCallahan: All right, here we go. (Mr O’Callahan swabs the phone.)

Presenter: Oh wow! And then just put it back in like that.

Mr OCallahan: Pop it in there.

Presenter: Are you nervous?

Mr OCallahan: Wow!

Presenter: (sees high result) What?! Surely not!

Mr OCallahan: Oooh, there we go.

Presenter: I don’t ever clean my phone!

Mr OCallahan: Wow! I don’t really want to pick it up!

Pupil 2: I think it’s going to be quite high.

Mr OCallahan: No way!

Presenter: Well, it must be broken, surely!

Presenter: Right, so that’s everybody’s phone done. (Shows results on board.) This is how many of you got squeaky clean. This is how many got mildly manky. And this is how many of you got gruesomely gross.

Presenter: Everyone’s phone is done apart from mine and Mr O’Callahan’s. So, sir, I challenge you to a mobile phone gross-off. Are you up for it?

Mr OCallahan: Bring it on.

Presenter: I’m not going to look. I’m not going to look!

Presenter: Time for the moment of truth: who has got the grossest phone?

Mr OCallahan: Your ATP score was 699.

Presenter: Oh, that’s quite gross.

Mr OCallahan: But mine was 2,458, so you win.

Presenter: Yes, I win! Although, you know what, none of us are winners here because we’ve all got grubby phones.

Mr OCallahan: I agree, yeah. I’m going to go and clean mine now.

Presenter: I think I might just go and give it a little wipe.



How often do you clean your mobile phone? What other common objects have a lot of bugs that we can’t see?

Average: 3.9 (7 votes)
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Profile picture for user Andrii

Submitted by Andrii on Sat, 12/11/2021 - 18:27

I don't usually clean my mobile phone (except that it gets dirty). I also know that keyboards and mice can be as dirty as mobile phones.
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Submitted by samoiset on Thu, 07/02/2020 - 08:19

gross but funny haha ewwwwwwwwwww so gross and funny bye

Submitted by TR790 on Fri, 05/22/2020 - 15:25

First of all, that was gross!!! After watching this video I have started to clean my mobile phone regularly. I think my mobile phone had more than 200 bugs on it. I think common objects such as TV, Laptop, Watch can have a lot of bugs we can't even see. (Gross!!!)
Profile picture for user empty

Submitted by empty on Mon, 07/08/2019 - 07:52

gross !

Submitted by Tengor on Mon, 10/22/2018 - 15:46

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