How clean is your purse?
Handbags offer the perfect vehicle for transporting bacteria from floors to kitchen counters.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 21:23
THE CULPRIT: My purse, where I used to toss it on the kitchen counter. (Photo: Cy Tottleben)
We treat our purses like appendages or small children, carting them everywhere we go, either swung over our shoulders or cuddled in the crook of our arms. They accompany us on outings and usually have their own special spot where we stash them in the house — on the kitchen chair or counter, somewhere close to the door so we don't forget them when we leave.
We fill them with half of our personal belongings and an arsenal of daily needs. Looking in my bag, I have the Erica Spindler book I'm reading, my cell phone, keys to work and the car, a variety of cough drops and coins loose on the bottom. I also cart around a lot of trash: receipts and little things I intend to take home to recycle, like an empty pop bottle and several sandwich baggies. In a pouch on the inside, I have the remnants of my lunch, transported home in the same way I took it to work. Several pens float around like ocean garbage. Somewhere inside all that mess I keep the "just in case my husband needs them" supplies of pain killers and a few sweet treats.
Typical purse fare. Maybe other people don't haul their recyclables around like I do, but they probably balance things out by keeping their bags filled with items for their kids, like small toys or wipes to clean dirty faces when on the go.
But how safe are our purses?
I really got to thinking about this when I visited my mother and she chastised me for not tossing my purse in the washer. So, OK, it is cloth and was tainted a bit pink from the Crystal Light that leaked from my reusable bottle, so perhaps she was right. But that wasn't what really bothered her. It was the bottom of my bag, which had taken on quite the dirty look from being set down in so many places.
If you think about it, our purses really get a raw deal. They wallow in a lot of filth. Until that moment, I hadn't really considered where I set mine down, but after I had emptied it (and found $11 in loose change!) and sent it on a journey through the washer, I cautiously tried not to get it dirty again.
So I didn't set it on the ground when I went to drag my recyclables out of the car and drop them at the curb. I put it on a shelf at work rather than on the carpet that doesn't get vacuumed frequently enough. At home I left my purse in a spare chair rather than my usual spot on the counter next to the kitchen sink. And, in keeping it high and dry, perched my bag on the hook of the bathroom stall rather than on the floor by my feet.
Yuck. I had always considered those coat hooks until I went on my clean-purse kick. Then I realized how important they actually are in the whole scheme of things. I work in a retail store, and know firsthand how nasty a public restroom can get. And all these years I've been putting my purse directly on the floor, soaking up the germs left by the masses that came before me, and all of their personal body fluids that are sitting unsuspecting and invisible on the tile around the toilet.
Imagine the bacteria our handbags collect during our daily travels. Mine rides in my car, but what about women who ride the bus or train? If they don't keep them on their laps, their purses are swimming in germs and dirt. Just the other night my family went to the movies (where I again brought a lot of snack foods hidden in my bag) and when we left I had to practically tear mine off of the sticky floor where I had stashed it. Despite the multitude of times I've knowingly had my purse in a dirty environment, I've always thought that everything was kosher because the important things were on the inside, not lying on the bottom of my purse where I've set it down.
But the staple items we keep in our purses collect a lot of scary germs as well. According to Dr. Oz, who performed a test on audience members' purses for the Oprah show, even the digits on our credit cards can harbor dangerous bacteria collected from such innocuous places as the machine we swipe them through.
Makes a person think twice about using all the lip balm, pills or various snacks we transport in our bags on a daily basis.
Expert suggest that to protect ourselves from spreading the wealth of germs from the places we travel to our homes, we first look at where we place our purses, and not take the gamble of transferring fecal matter from a public restroom to our kitchen counter. Wiping them with a cleaning cloth on a regular basis is also recommended, as is purchasing one made from materials other than cloth, which houses more germs. For tips on cleaning your handbag, visit typef.com.
You might also like: