Ladies! Your handbag carries more germs than a toilet!
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?
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
Before this hub did you realise that your handbag, purse or wallet carried as many bacteria as shown?
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!