Would you ever want to carry a toilet seat around with you every day? Of course not! Aside from the obvious fashion faux pas, everyone knows a toilet is covered in germs. But you may be doing the equivalent of that every day without realizing it.
According to the British company Initial Washroom Hygiene, 20% of women's handbags contain a dangerous amount of harmful bacteria – more than the average toilet in many cases. Technical Manager Peter Barratt explains, "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."
And once germs make their way onto bags, they don't stay there. You can very easily transfer those germs to other surfaces by touching the bag and then another surface or placing the bag in contact with the surface. The most dangerous bags are leather handbags, as their spongy material is an ideal hiding place for a variety of bacteria. Inside the bag, bottles of hand cream are the most likely items to be infected.
Make sure you never ever put your handbag on the floor of a movie theatre, restaurant, or restroom. It's guaranteed to pick up some nasty bacteria.
To protect yourself further, use hand sanitizer after touching your handbag. And cleaning and washing your bags will help reduce bacteria levels. We'd never dream of wearing clothes day in and day out without washing them, but few people take the time to clean their bags. Antibacterial wipes and specific handbag cleaners are great tools in the fight against germs.
While you're at it, there are several other dangerously germy surfaces you should clean. Initial Washroom Hygiene also found that half of the surfaces in workplace kitchens contain dangerously high levels of coliforms, a form of bacteria found in feces, which can lead to gastrointestinal diseases. Don't ever prepare food directly on a workplace kitchen surface, and keep in mind that these germs can transfer to your belongings if you set items (such as a handbag!) onto a dirty surface.
According to the UK consumer watchdog and publication group Which?
, many computer keyboards are also covered in dangerously high levels of bacteria. And you'll find plenty of bacteria on earphones and headphones. That bacteria - along with head lice - can easily be transferred when people share these items. Try to avoid sharing, and clean your items regularly.
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While we will never be able to eliminate bacteria entirely, there are things you can do to protect yourself from high levels of dangerous forms. Take some time regularly to clean these dirty items and help minimize your risk.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand