Experts: Wipe down your germ-infested cell phone

Your cell phones are more than just a vehicle for communication. They can also be a transmitter of potentially disease-producing bacteria.

They go with you everywhere -- from your commute on BART, to your doctor's appointments, to the bathroom, and even end up on the dinner table.

Research suggests people are picking up their phones more than ever before. One study by Deloitte found Americans check their smart-phones on average, 52 times a day.

So it may not be surprising that these take-along everywhere devices pick up a lot of germs.

In fact, studies have shown that a cell phone can carry ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Yeah, that's gross.

So with the cold and flu season soon approaching, doctors say there are things you can do to try to prevent your phone from acting as a variable Petri dish of bacteria.

"The flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours," said Dr. Eric Ascher, a family medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. 

So consider this: You shake the hand of a person who has the flu, and then eat a snack while checking email on your phone. You could be transferring that flu virus directly into your system.

And while that's a realistic scenario, experts note that most of the germs on your phone probably won't make you sick.

"Likely a lot of the bacteria that is on your cell phone is not going to harm you, but it's not worth the risk. E Coli, salmonella, staph, strep are all dangerous bacteria that can live on hard surfaces, like your cell phone, for hours to days," said Dr. Ascher. 

Experts advise taking steps to protect yourself, like remembering good hand-washing practices and wiping down your phone once or twice a day. 

But given many people's busy, on-the-go lifestyle, regular phone cleaning can be hard to remember and may seem like too much work for some. 

So experts recommend another way of minimizing the risk of spreading germs is to limit where you take your phones. For example, not a bad idea to leave your device behind when eating or say, using the toilet.