If you’re an avid Apple Watch user, chances are you’re familiar with the convenience of having the sleek device wrapped around your wrist. However, you might not be aware of the unsavory reality: your wristband could be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus and E. coli. A recent study from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has revealed alarming findings about the bacterial buildup on smartwatch bands, urging users to take action and start disinfecting their wristbands regularly.
Why Apple Watch band cleaning is non-negotiable
In a study published in Advances in Infectious Diseases, researchers from FAU meticulously tested various wristbands made from plastic, rubber, cloth, leather, and metal. Their findings were rather alarming: a staggering 95% of the tested wristbands were found to harbor dangerous bacteria. Staphylococcus spp, the notorious culprit behind staph infections, was discovered on 85% of wristbands. Shockingly, 60% of the bands tested positive for E. coli, a bacteria that indicates fecal contamination. Additionally, 30% of the bands tested positive for Pseudomonas, a bacteria associated with sepsis and pneumonia notorious for its antibiotic resistance.
The researchers pinpointed the materials that seemed to be the worst culprits for bacterial accumulation. Cloth bands ranked highest on the bacterial concentration scale, followed by plastic, rubber, and leather. Notably, metal bands, particularly those crafted from gold and silver, harbored the least amount of bacteria. This study emphasized that materials like plastic and rubber, with their porous and static surfaces, inadvertently attract and encourage bacterial growth.
One of the most significant reasons behind the accumulation of bacteria on smartwatch bands is a lack of proper cleaning. Many smartwatch owners rarely or never clean their bands, allowing the bacteria to flourish. This is particularly concerning for those who use their smartwatches as fitness trackers, wearing them during intense workouts. Unsurprisingly, the study found that watchbands worn by regular gym-goers had higher bacterial counts than those worn by less active individuals.
Nadine de Vries, an Apple Watch user, confessed (via The New York Post) to cleaning her watch band only twice a year. Her story isn’t uncommon, as many users are unaware of the potential risks associated with unclean wristbands. The study’s results call for immediate action, especially among healthcare workers who regularly wear smartwatches. With the prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria found on these bands, routine disinfection is essential to prevent outbreaks of MRSA-like diseases.
How to clean your Apple Watch band
If you’re wondering how to clean your smartwatch band effectively, the study provides clear guidance. Lysol disinfectant spray and 70% ethanol alcohol were both proven to have a >99.99% kill rate on bacteria, regardless of the wristband material. However, the study advises against relying on apple cider vinegar, as it had minimal impact on certain strains of Staphylococcus bacteria.