What Is Lurking In Your Purse?
May 20, 2013

Study Details Hidden Bacteria Contamination Risk Of Handbags

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Purses and handbags could be a hidden source of bacteria-related contamination, as new research reveals that one in five contained enough microbes to potentially cross-contaminate other surfaces.

According to Michelle Castillo of CBS News, a study conducted by UK-based hygiene and washroom services company Initial Washroom Hygiene reveals that some ladies´ handbags, as well as some of the items found within them, can contain more germs than the average toilet flush.

The firm conducted swab tests of some of the dirtiest parts of a woman´s purse and some of their contents, such as makeup, mobile devices and even the linings of the bags.

They discovered that 20 percent contained enough bacteria to pose a “significant” cross-contamination risk, while the dirtiest handle was found to be nearly three times that level. Face and hand cream was found to be the dirtiest item in the bag, containing more bacteria than the average toilet seat, closely followed by lipstick and mascara.

“Sought-after leather ℠it´ bags provide the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and spread, due to their spongy texture,” Initial said in a statement. “Hand hygiene is a crucial part of preventing bacteria from spreading and causing illness, and Initial recommends regularly cleaning hands and personal items like bags with antibacterial wipes or gel to prevent against cross-contamination.”

“Handbags come into regular contact with our hands and a variety of surfaces, so the risk of transferring different germs onto them is very high, especially as bags are rarely cleaned,” Peter Barratt, Technical Manager at Initial Hygiene, added. “Once these germs are on the bags, they can easily be transferred via hands onto other surfaces. Regular hand sanitization is essential to prevent the presence of bacteria in the first place and thorough cleaning of bags is recommended to prevent the build up of contamination.”

Dr. Sorana Segal-Maurer, an infectious disease specialist with New York Hospital-Queens, told CBS News that it was unlikely that someone would fall ill as a result of handbag bacteria. However, she warned that women should still take the necessary precautions in order to help stop the spread of germs.

She suggested not placing purses on bathroom floors and using anti-bacteria wipes to make sure that the bag´s handles and bottom are cleaned and disinfected. She also said not to carry fruit in a handbag, because it is unlikely that you would wash your hands before searching for it, and because it sits next to other bacteria-coated purse items before being placed into your mouth when you eat it -- which, according to Segal-Maurer, is “not a good idea.”