New research finds your handbag is germier than a toilet
If you carry a handbag, you are essentially toting a big bag of bacteria around with you everywhere you go. New research finds there could be some pretty gross things growing inside. That's the finding of a new UK study, which claims that women's handbags hosted more bacteria than the average toilet.
Researchers swabbed and tested the surfaces of the items inside 25 different handbags and compared the results to separate data on toilet hygiene. They found that the dirtiest part of the bag is the handle—it carries more bacteria than the average toilet seat—and that one in five handbags contained enough bacteria to be considered a health risk. As for the items in the bags, bottles of hand cream were the worst offenders. They were also more germ-infested than the average toilet seat but generally cleaner than purse handle
About a third of handbags have fecal bacteria on them," confirms Charles Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist who has studied bacteria living on handbags. Gerba's research found that the bottoms of handbags were the nastiest, likely because women placed them on the bathroom floor (that is why the little handbag hook can help you!).
Your handbag can pick up bacteria from any of the surfaces it touches. If you consider all the places your bag ends up—restaurant floors, countertops, even bathroom floors—that’s a lot of opportunities for exposure.
The thing is, putting your bag on the floor is often inevitable: Few restaurants provide hooks under the table, and public restroom stalls may not have them, either. That said, there are a few simple ways to keep your handbag a little less germy.
To keep your handbags clean, you can always use a disinfectant wipe if it's plastic or a hard surface - Get into a clean routine and make cleaning your handbag—and everything you carry in it—a weekly practice. For leather bags, look for disinfecting wipes that don’t contain bleach or alcohol and wipe down the exterior and interior.
Remember to pay special attention to the parts that you touch the most, like handles and straps. As for bags made from cloth, wash them in cool water on a delicate cycle, and add just a bit of baby soap to the machine. This will get the bacteria down to a safer level and don't put your bag on the bathroom floor - EVER!