PSA: Your Smartwatch Band May Have Dangerous Bacteria On It

PSA: Your Smartwatch Band May Have Dangerous Bacteria On It
A stack of smartwatches includes an Apple Watch Series 6 and 7, as well as a Galaxy Watch 4, an OPPO Watch and a TicWatch Pro 3 Ultra.

Caitlin Cimino/Android Authority

TL; doctor

  • Researchers from Florida Atlantic University tested several smartwatch straps for the presence of bacteria.
  • As a result of the research, dangerous bacteria were found in 95% of the bracelets.
  • Lysol disinfectant and 70% ethanol have been shown to be very effective in killing bacteria.

From Fitbit to Apple Watch, some of the best smartwatches are often used to help us be healthier. We use it to track our running, measure blood pressure, etc. Ironically, according to a new study, these devices, or rather the bracelets associated with them, can also harm our health.

A study first published by the New York Post in the journal Advances in Infectious Diseases warns that the straps of our smartwatches may be covered in harmful bacteria. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) researchers tested Apple Watch and Fitbit straps made of plastic, rubber, fabric, leather, and metal (gold and silver) to see the relationship between strap materials and bacterial buildup. The results were shocking, to say the least.

It turns out that the researchers found that 95% of the wristbands they tested were contaminated with some type of dangerous bacteria. Up to 85% of the strips contain Staphylococcus spp, the bacteria responsible for staph infections. 60% are infected with E. coli and 30% have Pseudomonas spp. Known to cause pneumonia.

In terms of the association between material and bacterial accumulation, on average, dust is the worst material. Plastic takes second place after materials, and rubber, leather and metal take third place. It turned out that there were almost no bacteria on the metal strips. According to the researchers, plastic and rubber wristbands create an ideal environment for microbes due to their porous and persistent nature.

The effectiveness of disinfectants was also examined during the study. These researchers found that Lysol, a disinfectant commonly used in alcohol wipes, and 70% ethanol kill 99.99% of bacteria in 30 seconds on all materials. Therefore, if you regularly clean your smartwatch band with disinfectant, you don't have to worry about anything.

However, most people tend to wear their smartwatch around the clock and/or don't clean it regularly. This is especially problematic if you train with your smartwatch. Study participants who exercised accumulated the highest levels of bacteria. There was no significant difference in the results when the smartwatches were worn by different men and women.

“The number and classification of bacteria we found on the wristbands indicate the need for frequent disinfection of these surfaces,” lead author Nwadiotu Eshobu, Ph.D. said in his remarks. "Even at relatively low numbers, these pathogens have public health implications."

So the moral of the story is to clean the bracelets regularly. Otherwise, you risk getting an unwanted infection. How often do you clean your smartwatch strap? Let us know in the poll below.

How often do you clean your smartwatch strap?

49 votes

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