Ladies! Your handbag carries more germs than a toilet!

Source

Yucky handbags?

Even if your prized handbag is Gucci, Mulberry or Longchamp - bacteria don't care! According to new research one of a woman's most necessary accessories is literally teeming with all kinds of dangerous bacteria. It's been estimated that a handbag of moderate size may carry as much as 10,000 bacteria per square inch.

One research study carried out by Initial Hygiene UK, stated that because handbags come into contact with various surfaces and are not cleaned that often, there are a variety of bacteria being carried around and transferred via the hands to other surfaces and people. The research further suggested that as many as 1 in 5 handbags carried enough bacteria to pose a threat to health.

Danger zones for putting your handbag down seem to be:

  • The floor area in public rest rooms/toilets
  • Kitchen work surfaces and draining areas
  • Restaurant seats and tables

In fact microbiologist - Chuck Gerba - has found that, in addition to our handbags, desktop computers are also less hygienic than a toilet. The reason is that people tend to clean their toilets regularly, but not there handbags, purses or computers. Keyboards in particular carry the highest risk. This is the same with a woman's handbag. Sure we have a good clean out once in a while, but how many of us actually wash or wipe our handbag? Hands up, I don't!

So what bacteria do live happily on our handbags?

E.coli one of the many bacteria species found on handbags.
E.coli one of the many bacteria species found on handbags. | Source

Germs on your handbag

Germs on your mobile/cell phone

Did you know?

  • There are more bacteria on your body than there are people in the USA!
  • The human body carries approximately 1,000 different species of bacteria
  • A kitchen chopping board carries more faecal bacteria than a toilet.
  • A student from Florida carrying out hygiene research found that ice being supplied at some fast food restaurants carried more bacteria than toilet water.

Bacteria making a home in your handbag

Research carried out in a number of countries found that handbags, purses and wallets - not even a month old - had thousands of bacteria on their surfaces. One of the most revealing studies was carried out by Arizona State University. The team sampled 50 women in a shopping mall and even from this small group, bacteria such as E.coli and other bacteria were found in 1 out of 4 purses. From all the studies that have taken place recently, among the most common bacteria found were:

  • E.coli - (Escherichia coli) most strains of E.coli are harmless and we have some that live in the human intestine. However, there are a number that can cause health problems - some can be potentially fatal to the elderly and young children. The most common result of E.coli infection are illnesses that cause diarrhoea, urine infections and respiratory illness etc.
  • Viruses such as hepatitis. Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver usually caused by a virus.
  • Clostridium perfringens - a bacteria that is one of the commonest causes of food poisoning.
  • Enterococci - can be found in the human gut or female genitourinary system, but also has the ability to cause infection, especially in people who have an existing medical condition.
  • Pseudomonas - this bacteria can cause a number of infections - usually in people who have existing medical conditions.
  • Staphylococcus - the strain that causes skin infections has been found frequently on handbags, purses, wallets and mobile phones.
  • Salmonella - a bacteria that can cause serious food poisoning. More rarely it can cause the disease called typhoid.

Bacteria are everywhere

Bacteria knowledge

Before this hub did you realise that your handbag, purse or wallet carried as many bacteria as shown?

  • No, this is knew information.
  • I suspected, but wasn't sure.
  • Yes I did know.
See results without voting

Reducing the risks

There are a number of things we can do to reduce the risks from the bacteria we're carrying around with us in our bags and purses.

  • Washing your hands regularly is the best defence against any kind of bacteria whatever the source. Especially when you have used a rest room - even just for tidying up. If you tend to go to places where soap and water is not readily available then take some anti-bacterial gel or wipes with you.
  • Be aware of where you put your bag down. Public rest rooms and toilet floors should be avoided. Also keep your bag away from areas where food has been prepared - draining boards and kitchen surfaces are loaded with bacteria that will happily transfer onto your bag.
  • About once a week give your bag a wipe over with an anti-bacterial wipe or gel. Include the handles but especially the bottom of your bag as this is the area that comes into contact with more surfaces. Once in a while, give your bag a thorough cleaning with hot soapy water and a cloth. Finish off by wiping over the surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes, gel or cleaner.
  • Research has shown that of all the items in a lady's bag, hand cream carries the most bacteria. This could be due to the texture of the hand cream and the warmth, providing a nice environment for bacteria to grow. Give the bottle or jar a wipe over with anti-septic wipes once in a while - especially if the cream has coagulated around the top of the bottle and inside the lid.

We should still enjoy our handbags - even if we might now look at them with a wary eye! Simple hygiene is enough to keep us and our bags safe. In addition, although our handbags might be swamped with little germs, the vast majority of them are harmless. As for me? Well I'm now more informed but will continue to lug my favourite bags all over the place. Life without a bag would be intolerable, so I guess I'll just have to put up with the company of a few million germs here and there!

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Comments 49 comments

innerspin profile image

innerspin 3 years ago from uk

Excellent advice here. Years ago, I had a spell working as a telephone sanitizer. I'd visit various firms cleaning their phones and computers. Maybe I should have offered a handbag cleaning service as well!


Ghaelach 3 years ago

Hi Helen.

Well put together and some very interesting points.There are two that I have an interest in. The first is Clostridium difficile (c.diff) of which I wrote a hub about. The second is one bacteria that I could spend the whole day talking about and again I wrote a hub about it. Staphylococcus aureus has got a hold on me with it's companion Streptococcus and is now all over my body in my bone marrow after an OP where the after treatment was Slappy Dappy and MRSA got into an open wound in a hospital. The doctors give my problem the nice name of Chronic Osteomyelitis.

We live with bacteria every day, some we need and as you write can be very harmful to humans.

Voted up and sharing.

Have a nice Sunday afternoon.

LOL Ghaelach


Vickiw 3 years ago

I did know this, but your videos really emphasise the point. If only people ouod wash their hands more, we would all be better off! Great hub - lets hope it makes people think a few times before putting their handbags on the washroom floor. Ugh!!


Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

Jo_Goldsmith11 3 years ago

This is some great information! I had no idea! It makes sense that germs can accumulate anywhere there is an opportunity for the suckers to grow. I am going to wash my handbag more often and thanks for the tips! I like to keep a bottle of germ X in my handbag. I avoid placing my purse on the floor in public areas, or on the sinks. I will use the hook provided to hang up my handbag. Voted this up ++ shared and tweeted too :)


soconfident profile image

soconfident 3 years ago

That real interesting, who knew that a purse carried around more germs than a toilet. When you think about it, it does make sense.


HappyMikeWritter profile image

HappyMikeWritter 3 years ago

Very interestingarticle. I have never thought of that. This is really a great ingo given.


ytsenoh profile image

ytsenoh 3 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

Well, this was interesting and disgusting. I think as many places we set our purses down, or what we keep in them, sure does back-up the possibilities of bacteria, but I bet a lot of us never give this subject a second thought, but I will now. Thanks for writing about this subject!


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

Thank Goodness I don't carry a hand bag..LOL so in other words.. there is a lot of shit in hand bags..?? LOL good share for the handbag toting individuals!!!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 3 years ago from Central Oregon

Great info, Helen--this is why I no longer carry a purse~ I just take everything I need in my pockets (or a fanny pack if it's a long trip). I found that without a purse, my neck pain got remarkably better too!!


akirchner profile image

akirchner 3 years ago from Central Oregon

P.S. Helen--do we have another month to go? I was thinking I was done in May but I think in retrospect it's June right? Hope you are doing well...I see you survived as well!


my_girl_sara profile image

my_girl_sara 3 years ago from Georgia

Agreed!


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 3 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and useful. Thanks for much for sharing this information. Definitely something I didn't know. Never can be too careful. Passing this on.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi innerspin, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub.

LOL!! Well, it look like we could all be doing with a handbag sanitising service!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Ghaelach, lovely to hear from you and glad you enjoyed the hub.

I always did find the micro worlds very interesting - but they soon lose their appeal if you're on the receiving end of their toxins, as you unfortunately are. And yes Staph A. and StreptoC. These guys have been around for millions of years and I'm sure will out live the human race by about another few million. As to C.diff - the horror of the hospitals! It doesn't seem to matter what steps are taken, this mean little germ always manages to rear it's ugly head somewhere. In Fife a whole new zone of the new Victoria Hospital was closed for a number of weeks just after it had openend due to C.diff! How that happened no one seems to know!

There's nothing angers and upsets me more than to hear of a patient whose treatment - as you put it - is 'slappy dappy'. Not only that but these surgeons then go on their own sweet way after the deed is done and the patient is left to get on with it! To be honest, I'm glad I'm out of the nursing profession itself now - there have been too many changes and hardly any for the good. With the result, that the wards are even more short staffed than ever but the work load piles up. If the nursing staff didn't have so much of the crap and nonsense paperwork to do, then things in the NHS would be a lot better. This is where so much wastage is happening - red tape and paper work, while the care of the patients and support to families are left bottom of the list just about! And this is a shame, because the majority of people who do work in the NHS are good people with the patients best interests at heart - but often they don't get the time or the support to do their work properly.

Anyway, sorry for the rant today and many thanks for the vote and the share - it's always greatly appreciated!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Vickiw, lovely to hear from you again.

I couldn't agree more, the amount of people I see that never seem to wash their hands after the bathroom, after preparing food, after handling pets is amazing! Yes, we would be better off if some folks would just take the time to have a wash - how long does it take after all, 30 seconds? So here's hoping the message will get across that we all need to be more vigilant - especially around the loo floors!!!


Ghaelach 3 years ago

Evening Helen.

What happened to me was, I went in for a quick OP, and after I came out of Anesthesia was sent home, and was to return at 7:00am the next morning. They would then remove the little bottle strapped to the side of my waist and the tube that ran down to my ankle, where the OP had taken place. This was for any blood that leaked out.

They had an emergency.

5 and-a-half hours later at 12:30 mid-day the doctor came back and said "Are you still here" called me into out-patience and proceeded to take the bottle and tube away, then stuck the same plaster over the wound. This all took place without surgical gloves or a mouth mask. The doctor said good-bye and called the next patient in.

I don't need to tell you all that was done wrong. That was the beginning of the end of my working life at 53 years of age. I now have "Chronic Osteomyelitis."

I have a season ticket for hospitals, as I seem to be in every year. My last visit was in November to have my Gall-Bladder removed. In all honesty I find the nursing staff wonderful, and think they are all angels.

So Helen you had your little rant, and that was mine.

Have a nice Sunday evening, what's left of it.

LOL Ghaelach

PS: I agree with all that you say.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Jo_Goldsmith, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub.

I'm the same, I was really shocked to learn about the bacteria on handbags and will be giving mine a good wash as well. I usually hang my bag up when I'm in rest rooms in particular, but I'm sure I must put my bag down in other places where there are plenty of nasty germs lurking about !!

Many thanks for the vote and the tweet - greatly appreciated.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

HI soconfident, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub! Yes, it does makes sense when we found out about the bacteria but I guess its something most of us don't really think about! LOL!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

HI HappyMikeWritter,

Many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi ytsenoh,

Many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub, but yes it's also disgusting!!

I now look at my own handbag with a kind of wary eye - its kind of freaky knowing your favourite accessory might be hoaching with germs of all kinds!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

LOL!!!! Hi Frank - yep! You've got is spot on. It was only suspected before that us women carried shit in our bags - but now it's confirmed for definite. Maybe not the kind of shit that everyone was thinking about, but shit none the less!! LOL!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Audrey, lovely to hear from you!

I have to admit that I do love my handbags even if I've discovered they are loaded with germs. Guess it will just need to be anti-bacterial wipe down frequently and then a good wash not so often. But it's revolting to know what we are all carrying around with us!

RE: apprenticeship - I can't remember if we got 4 months or 6 months after the main programme finished. So it will either be this month or the end of June I think. And yes, I've survived and haven't regretted one minute of it. But I have to say I'm even busier now than I was during the actual apprenticeship - very odd!! Anyway, it would be great to get another month of 'bonuses' for our hubs but we'll have to wait and see.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

my_girl_sara, many thanks for stopping by.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

HI Rasta, great to hear from you and glad you enjoyed this one as well. Most of this was new to me as well and being a lover of my handbags, a bit of a shocker!! LOL!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Ghaelach, that is appalling what happened to you. Do you know, even in the last hospital where I worked all the staff had to go through a course regularly for infection control. We also had to ensure we washed our hands in gel going in or out of a ward and before seeing a patient and after leaving them. ALL the staff did so except the doctors! Their reason? We're not near the patients enough to have to do this???????


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

We all know it, but many thanks for the reminder! You have made some very significant points here. I agree completely with your views and the precautions you suggest are wonderful.

Thanks for sharing!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Great hub, with some things. I didn't know Good information. Voted up.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 3 years ago from Central Oregon

I added it up and think we need to keep up our hubs through June--I hear you on the busy part. Holy cow~ My grandbaby was born so traveling to see him has also kept me busier than usual--but what a doll baby....all good~ Take care, Helen~


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 3 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I saw this study and it grossed me out. Fortunately at work I put my purse in my desk drawer. And in public restrooms I hang it on the hook and if not that I sit it on the toilet paper dispenser. But I'm sure germs abound there. I think the best thing to do is wipe down your purse. I haven't done it but I know I should. Thanks for sharing!


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Since I am aware of the germs on a purse if someone visits me and places a purse on the counter I remind them that they are welcome to visit, but their germs aren't :)

Also, buffet style restaurants are a haven for germs and bacteria if the food isn't handled properly or others in line handle the food before you. Ewwww.

Excellent hub to get the word out about unwanted germs and bacteria.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I'm beginning to think the toilet is the cleanest place around ;) Seriously my handbag needs a good cleaning and this is a very informational hub.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


msLarayne profile image

msLarayne 3 years ago from New York, NY

Handbags on the public restroom floor! EEWWWW They can get so wet, I can't imagine leaving it there. I'd rather, and have, left it on my shoulder and played a balancing act. I think I want to wipe my bags just seeing this title lol


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi ChitrangadaSharan, lovely to hear from you as always and glad that you enjoyed the hub!

It's so amazing where all these germs can hide and we don't even know it. I think many of these bacteria and viruses will long out live the human race!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi moonlake, many thanks for stopping by and glad that you enjoyed the hub.

Please also accept my apologies for the delay in writing, I've been down with flu and only just catching up!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Audrey, huge apologies for taking so long to get back to you - Dad's been unwell and then I was down with flu for a few days (we're back to winter just about in Scotland!!).

OHHH!! congratulations on the grandbaby!!!! How wonderful! Give the baby a lovely little kiss from me and let me know if you have any photos!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Alecia, many thanks for stopping by and please accept my apologies for taking so long to get back to you - have been down with flu for a few days.

I'm both fascinated and repulsed by micro organisms and yes in the rest rooms I do keep my bag well away from the loo seats and the floors. I've opted for the wipe down of my bag every few days or so but since I'm using a new one I don't want to do the water and soap thing just yet, I'll wait until I've the bag a wee while longer!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Sunshine625 many thanks for stopping by and apologies for taking so long to respond - I've been down with flu for a few days. I think you're right about not letting purses on the counter. It must be tough enough keeping the place hygienic as you say, without constant contamination from handbags, purses and the like.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi tillsontitan, many thanks for stopping by and please accept my apologies for taking so long to reply - have been down with flu over the past few days!!

I agree - the toilet does seem to be cleaner than areas you would think last being contaminated. I've now got alcohol wipes for my new bag, but since it is new, I'm reluctant to go with the soap and water until it's at least a bit older!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi msLarayne, many thanks for stopping by and please accept my apologies for taking so long to reply.

I agree with you - who would want to put their bag on any loo or rest room floor??? I'm with you on this one, if there's no proper hooks then I'll try for the balancing act as well. LOL!

I've got as far as the anti-bacterial wipes but since my bag I use the most is still quite new, I'm leaving off with the soap and water until it gets a bit older and I have a better excuse for buying a new one if anything goes wrong!!


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Sorry to hear you were ill but glad you are back on your feet.


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

Oh no! But thanks for your warning... now I will regularly clean my handbags as well as my laptop, or even my mouse. I wonder why I would get sick these days, like the feeling that I'm gonna puke. Thanks again. :)


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

tillsontitan - aww thanks for your kind words!!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

HI FullOfLoveSites, many thanks for stopping by and glad you found the hub useful.

LOL!! Yes I also said 'oh no' about my handbags teeming with germs - what a bummer for us ladies!!!

That's interesting about your laptop and mouse, one of my friends found that on his mobile phone he had e.coli and kept getting bouts of diarrhoea. When he started cleaning his phone the problem stopped. He cleans it everyday which is probably excessive, but then if you've had a problem with bugs like this it does tend to make you very wary.


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

OMG! I have not thought about that. Millions of germs inside my handbags and I always carried them around. I have to clean my bags soon. Thanks for sharing this very excellent hub. Voted up and awesome. Have a nice weekend!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Thelma Alberts - many thanks for stopping by.

LOL!! I know what you mean - it's a bit of a shocker to know that we're carrying around all these grubby little bugs everywhere we go! Yuck!

You have a lovely weekend as well!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 3 years ago from the Ether

Thanks for successfully grossing me out, seeker7! LOL. On a serious note, thanks for informing me because I never think about it. Though whenever I'm in a public restroom I always make sure to hang my purse up on a hook (most public restrooms in the U.S. have hooks on the backs of the doors in each stall). I will be wiping my purse down and washing it down on a weekly basis now!


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 3 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Kitty! LOL!!! Sorry about grossing you out!!! When I was researching this hub I had only just treated myself to a lovely new bag! OMG! It really did deflate my enthusiasm to realise how many gross things were probably already happily living on it!! But once I got over the shock I took it in my stride since there is no way I'm giving up my bags!

Yes, I use the hooks as well or else my sisters/friends hold each others bags for us while we go in - there's bound to be germs anyway, but sadly when you see the lack of hygiene with some women, it must add millions to the germ population!!!


old albion profile image

old albion 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Helen. What an interesting and informative hub. I makes me want to stay in bed to be safe, But what might I find there LOL :) Tip Top hub.

voted up and all.

Graham.


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 2 years ago from Fife, Scotland Author

Hi Graham, as always lovely to hear from you and glad you enjoyed the hub. LOL - I might just do a hub on bed and bedroom creepy crawlies - but it might put me off sleeping!!!

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