Your smartwatch could be a breeding ground for bacteria

Smartwatch straps are often perfect breeding grounds for bacteria - especially in summer.  (Image: Apple)

Smartwatch straps are often perfect breeding grounds for bacteria – especially in summer. (Image: Apple)

Anyone who wears a watch may know it: In summer you sweat more and the bracelet quickly feels sticky and starts to smell. Regular cleaning is not only recommended for this reason: Researchers have now found that 95 percent of all smartwatch and fitness bands are contaminated with bacteria – some of which are even dangerous.

At a glance

  • 95 percent of all smartwatch and fitness bands are contaminated with bacteria
  • Rubber, silicone and plastic straps are particularly affected
  • Staphylococci, Pseudomonas and Enterobacteriaceae are the most common pathogens on the tapes
  • Metal straps are safer because metals have antibacterial properties
  • Leather straps can also encourage bacterial growth

Rubber, silicone and plastic straps are particularly at risk

Rubber, silicone and plastic-based straps are particularly badly affected. The researchers suspect that porous surfaces, such as those found on rubber and plastic bands, are easy breeding grounds for pathogens. However, metal bands, especially those with gold and silver components, are safe.

Rubber and silicone bands are particularly bacteria-friendly.  (Image: Apple)






Rubber and silicone bands are particularly bacteria-friendly. (Image: Apple)

During their testing, the team found staphylococci, pseudomonas, and enterobacteriaceae as the most common pathogens on the tapes.

Staphylococci: These bacteria typically cause skin infections, but they can also lead to pneumonia, abscesses, and endocarditis (inflammation of the lining of the heart).

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Pseudomonaden: These are a group of bacteria that are naturally found in the environment. However, some types can cause dangerous infections such as urinary tract infections and other diseases in humans.

Enterobacteriaceae: Enterobacteriaceae is a family of bacteria naturally found in the intestines of humans and animals. However, some members of this family can cause diseases such as gastrointestinal infections and other serious health problems.

How are they transferred? These three types of bacteria can be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. If you come into contact with a band or surface contaminated with these bacteria, there is a chance that they could be transferred to your skin or hands.

Why are metal straps safer? Bacteria are less able to survive on metals because metals have antibacterial properties. Metals like silver and gold can inhibit the enzymes on the surface of the bacterial membrane, causing many of the bacteria to die over time. This makes metal straps less prone to the accumulation and proliferation of bacteria compared to other materials.

The researchers consider metal straps to be particularly safe.  (Image: Apple)






The researchers consider metal straps to be particularly safe. (Image: Apple)

What about leather bracelets? Leather straps can also be prone to bacterial growth. Although leather is less porous than some other materials like rubber or fabric, bacteria can still colonize the surface.

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This is how you clean your tapes

Summer favors bacterial growth: Especially in summer it is particularly important to regularly clean the bands of smartwatches and fitness bands. Warm temperatures, sweat and skin contact are all favorable factors for increased bacterial accumulation.

Odor is one of the first signs of bacterial growth. Then at the latest, but preferably earlier, you should clean the tapes.

These remedies are recommended: Skin-friendly surface disinfectants, 70 percent ethanol or apple cider vinegar are particularly suitable. Unfortunately, washing with soap is not enough to effectively remove bacteria and germs. This will only remove dirt and surface contamination.

Dilute the 70% ethanol or apple cider vinegar with water 1:1. You can then wipe off your bands with a soft cloth or cotton pad and then let them air dry.

In the case of apple cider vinegar, the researchers also recommend soaking the bands in the liquid for at least two minutes to effectively remove most of the bacteria. This is not recommended for leather straps – it is best to just wipe the straps, otherwise the leather can dry out or discolour.

did you know that another study noticed that our smartphones are often 10 times dirtier than toilet seats? This is because they are cleaned much less frequently than toilets. The same probably applies to smartwatches and fitness bands. Do you clean your cell phones and smartwatches regularly? Or will you do this more often in the future? Are you already looking for metal bracelets? Tell us in the comments!

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