Some touchscreens on tablet computers and smartphones carry many more germs than a toilet seat, researchers say.

The bacteria are being left behind as users swipe and poke the screens of devices such as Apple iPads and Samsung Galaxy tablets without washing their hands.

One tablet tested by consumer group Which? had a count of 600 units per swab of the staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which can create toxins that cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

A typical toilet seat has a staphylococcus aureus count of less than 20. Which? also found enterobacteria, which can include strains of infections such as E. coli and salmonella. High-risk levels, more than 1 000 units of enterobacteria per swab, were found on eight of the 30 tablets tested and seven of the 30 smartphones.

The worst tablet had a count of 15 000 units per swab, with four phones and five keyboards also registering this level. Toilet seats typically had less than 10 units per swab of enterobacteria.

Firms like Apple actively discourage users from using detergents on their touchscreens because they can damage them.

The presence of the germs simply shows that touchscreen users fail to wash their hands properly, while few people bother to clean the devices and keyboards.

Which? editor Richard Headland, said: “It’s shocking that a smartphone or tablet can harbour more germs than a toilet seat.” – Daily Mail