One in five handbags contain higher levels of bacteria than the average toilet, Medical News Today reported.
The study, conducted by British company Initial Washroom Hygiene, suggested that the bacteria found on handbags are significant enough to pose a threat to human health.
"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,” said Peter Barratt, technical manager at Initial Hygiene.
Leather handbags contain the highest levels of bacteria, Medical News Today reported, because the soft material acts as a breeding ground for germs.
The insides of handbags are contaminated with high levels of bacteria too, and bottles of hand cream emerged as the dirtiest item inside women’s purses, the study revealed.
To minimize germs, women should try to clean their handbags regularly with antibacterial wipes or handbag cleaners. The study also suggested women wash or sanitize their hands after touching the inside or outside of their purses.
“Once these germs get on the bags, they can easily be transferred via hands onto other surfaces. Regular hand sanitization is essential to prevent the presence of bacteria in the first place and thorough cleaning of bags is recommended to prevent the build-up of contamination," Barratt said.