There’s a television commercial where the student goes to school and little bits of everything he touches throughout the day sticks to his backpack, which he plops on the kitchen counter after school. It’s a cute advertisement that makes a good point about how germs tend to hitchhike on student’s belongings during the school year.

Germs are a natural part of our everyday lives, but it is the nastier germs: bacteria and viruses, we need to stay vigilant against. Two vehicles for these germ hitchhikers are the cell phone and computer tablet.

As students head back to school those fortunate enough to have a cell phone or tablet will be passing it around, however briefly, to share summer photos, check out the newest game, or demonstrate the latest features on the gadget.

Students, and adults alike, need to get into the habit of cleaning their electronic gadgets on a regular basis and for students making cleaning their cell phones, tablets, and cases part of the after school routine might not be a bad idea.

While most people keep their phone in a clean place, such as a jeans pocket or a purse, it is the germs from our hands: the invisible little germs we pick up daily by touching things that stick to the cell phone and tablet.

Toilet seats and bathroom sinks are obvious areas prone to germs, but there are also television remotes, shoes, door-handles, bus seats, seat belts, steering wheels, and cafeteria or restaurant tables.

All those invisible germs sticking to our hands get transferred to our cell phones and gadgets when we pick them up; which happens to be a lot for both teens and adults.

Playgrounds and gyms are among the stealth areas where germs can collect and bide their time. Here are some examples.

Setting your cell phone down on a bleacher?

Well, someone’s bottom sat there at some point, so maybe just drop your cell phone in a pocket or let it rest on your lap.

Going to the movies?

Better use a squirt of hand sanitizer after touching the armrests, picking up your phone for a selfie, and then sticking your hand into shared popcorn.

Shopping carts are another stealth place for germs.

You know that fold out place where toddlers sit and ride in the basket? Don’t put food there. That’s where the diapered bottoms sit. Also, there are a lot of bacteria lurking around in even the cleanest produce section of a store. People handle the produce, then touch the cart handle. So be sure to wipe down the cart handle or push it with your wrists, and be sure to thoroughly wash your hands and all produce afterwards.

Students are typically studious about hand-washing and sanitizing during the first few weeks of school, but according to trends in the Arkansas Department of Health’s weekly flu reports, the flu-related absentee rates in Arkansas usually spike in November, before another spike, usually around February.

While powering your device down and wiping it with an electronics wipe is recommended, typically a cloth slightly dampened with rubbing alcohol will usually do the trick. Most all electronics manufacturers discourage using harsh chemical cleansers, such a bleach wipes or window cleaner.

So, take a few minutes once in a while to give your cell phones and tablets a wipe down and remember: refrain from using them in the restroom, in the gym, or while eating. We’re running the risk of being labeled “germaphobe” here, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?