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PSA: Your smartwatch band may have dangerous bacteria on it

95% of the smartwatch bands were found to be contaminated with dangerous bacteria.

Published onAugust 18, 2023

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.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority
  • Researchers from Florida Atlantic University tested different smartwatch bands for bacterial buildup.
  • The study found that 95% of wristbands had some form of dangerous bacteria on them.
  • Lysol disinfectant spray and 70% ethanol were found to be highly effective in killing the bacteria.

From the Fitbit to the Apple Watch, some of the best smartwatches are often used to help us be healthier. Whether we’re using them to track our runs, measure blood pressure, etc. Ironically, according to a new study, these devices — or rather the bands connected to them — may also be hurting our health.

First spotted by the New York Post, a study published in the science journal Advances in Infectious Diseases warns that our smartwatch bands may be covered in harmful bacteria. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) tested plastic, rubber, cloth, leather, and metal (gold and silver) Apple Watch and Fitbit bands to see the correlation between band material and bacterial buildup. The results were shocking to say the least.

It appears that the researchers found that 95% of the wristbands they tested were contaminated with some form of dangerous bacteria. As many as 85% of the bands had Staphylococcus spp — the bacteria that causes staph infections. While 60% were found to have E. coli, and 30% had Pseudomonas spp — known for causing pneumonia.

As for the correlation between material and bacteria buildup, cloth ranked as the worst of the materials on average. After cloth, plastic was the second worst, followed by rubber, leather, and last metal. It appears that the metal bands had little to no bacteria at all. According to the researchers, plastic and rubber wristbands provide an ideal environment for germs due to their porous and static nature.

The study also looked into the effectiveness of disinfectants. These researchers found that Lysol Disinfectant Spray and 70% ethanol — typically used in alcohol wipes — killed 99.99% of bacteria in 30 seconds on all materials. So if you regularly clean your smartwatch band with a disinfectant, you don’t have much to worry about.

However, most people tend to wear their smartwatches almost 24/7 and/or don’t often clean them. It’s particularly troublesome if you workout with your smartwatch on. Participants in the study who worked out had the highest levels of bacteria buildup. And there were reportedly no noticeable differences in the results when the smartwatches were worn by different genders.

“The quantity and taxonomy of bacteria we found on the wristbands show that there is a need for regular sanitation of these surfaces,” senior author Nwadiuto Esiobu, Ph.D. told the outlet. “Even at relatively low numbers, these pathogens are of public health significance.”

So the moral of the story is to make sure you clean your wristbands regularly. Or you could risk getting an unwanted infection. How often do you clean your smartwatch band? Let us know in the poll below.

How often do you clean your smartwatch band?

215 votes

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