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How Dirty Can Our Handbags Be

Hygiene is one of the top priorities for our health and well-being today. After what looks like serialized worldwide incidents of contagious viruses and outbreaks like SARS, people are generally more aware of the importance of practising good personal hygiene and taking precautions to minimize health risks.

But how many people have thought of cleaning their bags regularly?

A study on bacteria on people’s bags was carried out by the University of Mauritius. It was a laboratory study that swabbed the purses and wallets from a sample of men and women to see what bacteria grew from them under culture.

The results – as published in scientific journal Advanced Biomedical Research – indicate that handbags are hardly ever washed and are often only thrown out when they become worn and unusable. What is often not considered is that they could be a breeding ground for bacteria. More than 90% of handbags have bacteria on them. In fact, all of the things we use in the environment around us, like mobile phones, computers, keyboards and other equipment, are all likely to carry bacteria.

What are the main sources of germs in a bag?

Surprisingly, the dirtiest item in an average handbag is hand cream. It carries more bacteria than the average toilet seat. Lipstick and mascara tubes also contain significant levels of bacteria. Additionally, leather handbags are also found to have carried the most bacteria because its spongy texture provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow.

At Colorwash, it’s common to see many types of unusual items in bags being brought to us for servicing and cleaning. Some bags contained anything from rotten mandarin oranges to insects like lizards, spiders and cockroaches (some living, some dead!). It sounds almost unbelievable, but we have experienced them all! This goes to show that general awareness of bacteria and bag hygiene among Singaporeans are still quite low.

How do germs transfer?

According to Peter Barratt, Technical Manager at Initial Hygiene, 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. Once these germs are on the bag, they can easily be transferred via hands to other surfaces.

What is the best way to minimize bacteria on your handbag?

Above all, prevention is better than cure. Good hygiene habits like regular hand sanitization and thorough cleaning of bags are recommended to prevent the build-up of bacteria. Cleaning your bag regularly removes not only dirt and stains but also bacteria, which cannot be seen by the naked eye.

Caring for your bags and shoes Wisdom
Gemma Gil
By Gemma Gil
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