Surprise! Your Handbag Is Dirtier Than a Germ-Infested Bathroom

You probably shouldn't eat that piece of gum floating in the bottom of your bag -- it's covered with bacteria

Would you ever eat a breath mint that you dropped on a toilet seat? How about using mascara or lip gloss that had been dangled over the bowl while being flushed?

As putrefying as that sounds, most of us are doing pretty much just that every time we dip into our purses.

In a study by Initial Washroom Hygiene, handbag handles, bag linings, makeup and mobile phones were swabbed by scientists to determine just how much of a risk pocketbooks -- and the contents within -- posed to their owners. The results weren’t pretty.

Turns out, you should probably start wearing a Hazmat suit every time you pick up your purse. Those big, buttery bags that we shell out big bucks for are teeming with more bacteria than the average rest room. One in five handbag handles housed enough bacteria to pose a “significant risk of spreading and causing illness.” 

Expensive leather bags are the most abominable of the bunch, and no, not because they belong to the filthy rich (couldn’t resist), but because their soft, spongy texture provides the perfect breeding ground for germs, compared to less porous materials, like vinyl or pleather. (Check out our roundup of the cutest bags for under $50.)

The stuff that lives inside our bags is no better. The worst offenders were face and hand cream -- because we’re always dipping our cruddy paws into the containers, which are warm and moist, just the way bacteria like it. Well, I guess that’s one explanation for all of my recent skin breakouts. Lipstick and mascara weren’t far behind in the germ-count category.

Aall this nastiness is actually our fault. We carry our satchels with us everywhere, dropping them on barroom, restaurant and even public restroom floors. And then we never, ever wash or sanitize them.

So to keep your bag a little less germ-infested, wipe it down -- inside and out -- with alcohol-free wipes. And, ladies, try to keep it out of the bathroom.

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