One in six British mobile phones contains traces of E. coli, a new study has found.

Even though 95 per cent of participants in the study said they washed with soap after visiting the toilet, 16 per cent of hands and phones showed the presence of E.coli – which is transmitted in faeces.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine took samples of bacteria from the hands and phones of people across 12 cities in Britain.

The research found that in total, a whopping 92 per cent of mobile phones contained traces of bacteria.

It is said that bacteria survives well on mobile phones because the surfaces are warm, hard to clean, and often sprayed with proteins when we speak into them.

And be warned – bacteria on the phone surface can be transferred back to the user, potentially ending up on our ears and faces, and infecting any scratches or open wounds.

Dr Ron Cutler, who led the study, said: “I hope the thought of having E. coli on their hands and phones encourages people to take more care in the bathroom – washing your hands with soap is such a simple thing to do but there is no doubt it saves lives.” 

The research comes just before Global Handwashing Day tomorrow, which boasts the tagline “clean hands save lives”.

The largest number of contaminated phones was found in Birmingham, it is reported. However, Londoners were found to have the highest proportion of E.coli on their hands.