Do you regularly disinfect your connected watch strap? If not, you’ll want it now. A scientific study published in May examined 20 different watch and fitness bracelets and found that 95% of them were contaminated with at least one type of harmful bacteria that can cause infections.
The document details how the researchers tested the bracelets worn by 20 random, anonymous people. Wristbands were made of rubber, plastic, fabric, metal and leather. And the newspaper pointed out that we wear our watches and fitness trackers when we work out, swim, hold our pets, eat and sleep, and yet we don’t sanitize them often.
Of the 20 watchbands, the researchers found that 85% contained Staphylococcus aureus (Staph aureus), 60% contained Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, and 30% contained Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa) bacteria. Rubber and plastic rubber bands had the highest levels of harmful bacteria, while gold and silver metal rubber bands had the lowest levels, as previously published by 9to5Mac.
The researchers concluded that “bracelets, often worn daily without regular cleaning, can accumulate potentially pathogenic bacteria.” They called the problem “significant for public health”, adding that infections could be avoided if we disinfect our watch straps more often (or not at all).
Luckily for us, they also studied how to eliminate bacteria.
How to disinfect your smartwatch strap
Here’s how to clean your germ-infested activity tracker and smartwatch bands:
- Take your watch off your wrist.
- Take either Lysol Disinfectant Spray or a 70% ethanol cleanser, like these little alcohol wipes. Researchers also tested apple cider vinegar, but found it was not effective on Staph aureus, even after 5 minutes of cleaning.
- Wipe your watch band. Then continue wiping. Lysol and 70% alcohol killed 99.99% of E. coli, Staph aureus and P. aeruginosa after 30 seconds of contact.
- If you have a plastic wristband, continue wiping it for 2 minutes. Researchers found that 30 seconds of exposure to Lysol or 70% ethanol was not enough to kill harmful bacteria on plastic wristbands.
How often should you do this? The newspaper didn’t elaborate, just saying it should be “regular.”
Or you can just switch to a metal band, especially a gold band. And don’t wear plastic clothing if you’re susceptible to germs.