Rumor has it that our purses carry a lot of bacteria, but is that just one of those e-mail rumors, or do I really need to worry about it? I hate to tell you, but it is TRUE! Bag-teria, harmful bacteria and viruses living on purses, totes, backpacks, and briefcases is real, and it is something to be aware of at the very least, and if you or someone you live with is immunocompromised then you should absolutely be concerned about it. Also, if you have babies or toddlers you probably want to take steps to avoid as many nasty germs as possible from entering your home, so read on!
Snopes.com, the website that verifies those chain e-mails we're always getting, has confirmed that Bag-teria exists. It makes perfect sense. Think about all the places women put their purses! On the floor in restaurants, movie theatres, night clubs, even in bathrooms (yuck). Then consider this, where do you put your purse when you go shopping? If you're like most women you put it in the child-seat of the shopping cart, but next time you shop you may want to forgo that habit. Think about this - if the last occupant of that child seat had a leaky diaper that child seat is harboring some pretty nasty germs. What about people who put cartons of eggs or the meat they're buying in that seat? Chances are good that the child seat in a shopping cart is harboring e-coli and salmonella, as well as a host of other germs.
In a recent study 25% (1/4) of all handbags studies were harboring e-coli - that's startling to be sure! All of the purses were carrying germs, most were covered with tens of thousands of germs, some were covered in millions of them, and one of the larger bags that was studied was carrying 6.7 million germs on it.
Okay, so what? Germs are on the bottom of my bag, I never touch the bottom! I just carry it by the handles so I don't have to worry, right? Well I hate to tell you, but wrong, you do need to worry because most women set their purses on a counter or on the table where food is prepared or eaten. Even if you never do that, chances are that where ever you do set it down may get touched by someone, or they may set down something in that spot and that item will get cross-contaminated by the bag-teria.
What can we do about this? Well, first and foremost, be aware of where you're setting your purse when you're out and about. Use a purse hook so that you never have to set your bag on the floor (we love the Clipa and the FUMI the most because they're both so versatile and can be used in so many places). Use a purse hook, most especially in bathrooms and to hang your purse from the shopping cart handle. If your purse hook won't work on a shopping cart then at least wipe the child seat down with a disinfectant wipe before putting your purse in it. Or you can do what I do, use a Hip Klip for shopping trips. They're wonderful because then you can walk away from the shopping cart without worrying about your purse!
Whether or not you ever place your purse on the floor you should clean it often. At least once a week is a good rule of thumb, but certainly if you realize you've just set it in a particularly germy place clean it again even if you just did it recently. I use a Clorox wipe to wipe the outside of my bag. If your bag is cloth perhaps you can place it in the washer, but if you can't, use a soapy wash cloth to surface clean it. (Cloth bags harbor more germs that leather bags so clean them more often). I use my Clipa to hang my bag on the handicapped railings in bathrooms where there is no hook, but I always remove my purse before I flush because the toilet sprays droplets of water that are too small to see when you flush it!
As always, wash your hands often and keep some wet wipes or hand sanitizer in your purse for quick disinfecting on the go. If you must set your bag on a food prep or eating area, place it on a few paper towels to prevent germs from spreading!
I hope this article helps you and your loved ones stay a little healthier!