It might not be pleasant to hear, but smartphones are some of the most bacteria-infested devices you can put your hands on (and the fact that they're handled so regularly makes the problem worse). Several studies have confirmed that our most dependable devices can be hazardous to our health - some go as far as saying that smartphones harbour more germs than your average toilet seat.

Enter the PhoneSoap Charger, a new device that cleans your handset while it juices up the battery. "A charged phone is a clean phone" is the motto behind the device and it can be yours for a mere US$59.95. Something like a miniature sunbed in appearance, it uses two lamps emitting short-wave ultraviolet light (known as UV-C) to kill off any lingering bacteria on your phone without damaging the delicate circuitry inside it.

To be more specific, the UV-C is able to pass through the cell walls of bacteria and viruses in order to impair their DNA structure - once this is compromised, they can no longer cause infections or disease. This same UV-C light is the same light blocked by Earth's ozone layer (and is the reason why the hole in the ozone layer is potentially so threatening). Inside the PhoneSoap Charger, germs have no such protection.

UV-C sanitising procedures have in fact been around since the middle of the 20th century. Way back in 1903, Niels Ryberg Finsen received the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology because of his work in using ultraviolet light to fight tuberculosis, and in the past it's been primarily used for sterilisation in medical facilities. If it's good enough for a hospital, then it's good enough for your smartphone too, and the Discovery Channel has also put the sanitisation technology through its paces.

"Two powerful UV-C lights and a curved, reflective inner surface allow the light to surround your phone to ensure the destruction of any unwelcome guests," explains the product page. "While PhoneSoap Charger was created to focus on cell phones, anything you put inside will be safely sanitised. If it fits, it cleans." The whole process takes just 4 minutes, though your battery's probably going to need longer to reach a full charge.

And you might be grateful for that cleaning protection - researchers say rushed toilet breaks, snacking between meals, and grubby fingers are to blame for the dirtiness of our everyday gadgets. One 2013 study revealed some startling images of how bacteria can take hold on smartphones, but there is some good news: manufacturers are testing new types of display material that do a better job of killing odours, stains, and bacteria.