A new study from the UK suggests that your purse may have up to 10 times more germs than the average toilet seat. Researchers from Initial Washroom Hygiene swabbed different parts of purses and compared them to swabs of toilet seats.
The results: Nearly 20% of handbags had more germs than a toilet seat and posed a potential health risk of contamination. The dirtiest part of the purse was the handle or the straps, which are the most frequently touched by your hands. Leather handbags posed the greatest threat because of their “spongy texture,” which provides perfect conditions for bacterial growth. In addition to the purses, their contents were also dirty, with hand or face cream being one of the most contaminated items, followed by lipstick and mascara.
Dr. Oz got the literal dirt on purses last year in an episode where his team found dangerous fungi and bacteria on volunteers’ purses and their contents. One of the bacteria identified, enterobacteriaceae, is often found in fecal matter. Another bacteria, bacillus cereus, commonly causes vomiting and diarrhea. The team also found aureobasidium pullulans, which is a fungus known to trigger asthma.
“Toilet seats get cleaned fairly often, and handbags don’t,” says Dr. Peter Barratt, technical manager of Initial Washroom Hygiene. This may play a huge role in how dirty some women allow their handbags to get. Hand hygiene also plays a strong role in keeping your purse as clean as possible.
Here are some tips to keep your purse clean:
Keep your bag at the door: After taking your purse to public restrooms and resting it on the floors of restaurants, you may not want to drag all the germs you picked up along the way into your home. Make a habit of keeping your bag on a table next to your front door and taking out what you need when you get home.
Use a purse hook: This gadget allows you to hang your purse over the edge of a desk or table, so it won’t have to touch the floor. You can get a purse hook at any convenience store for around $5 dollars.
Carry alcohol pads: The dirtiest part of the purse is the handles/straps. Use alcohol pads frequently to kill bacteria. Wipe not only the handles, but also the insides of your purse as well. (Be sure to spot test to avoid damage to the purse.)
Carry hand sanitizer in your purse: Many of the germs on your purse most likely come from your hands. Therefore, the cleaner your hands, the cleaner your purse. Pick an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and use it often.