Cleaning purses and handbags is a task we often overlook.
Yet we are all guilty of putting our purses and handbags down in some rather unsavory places from time to time, too.
Sometimes when we're in small spaces (like bathroom stalls), we just put it wherever it's most convenient.
All the places we leave it - on car floorboards, movie theatre and restaurant floors, dirty - counters - make cleaning our favorite accessory essential.
The purse or handbag's exterior isn't the only part that's prone to host potential nasties - the inside attracts a lot of dirt, too.
Does stuffing your purse to the brim with random items and only cleaning it once in a blue moon ring a bell, anyone?
As a result, there are more than crumpled receipts and spare change lurking inside. When researchers carried out detailed tests on 145 handbags from 80 women and 65 men, results showed that more than 90 percent of the bags had bacteria contamination.
Women were the worst offenders: bacteria growth was higher on women's purses than on men's bags.
A big part of the problem is that we often forget to clean our handbags - or worse yet, we don't think about it at all. That bag study found that less than 3 percent of the women were cleaning purses monthly.
The danger: some nasty bacteria - Staphylococcus, Micrococcus, Bacillus, and Enterococcus - can colonize on purses and lead to staph infections, septic shock, meningitis, ear infections, and urinary tract infections (UTIs), and more.
The solution is simple: buck the curve and start cleaning purses regularly. Weekly would be an admirable goal, but monthly is respectable. Options for cleaning purses and handbags:
Some purses and handbags are machine washable. If you carry one of them, toss it in the next time you're running a load.
Synthetic bags are a cinch to clean. Dump out the gunk, vacuum inside, and run an antibacterial wipe or two along the entire outer surface.
And if you prefer leather, know that your purse material of choice safeguards you from excess bacteria buildup better than other options. (Yay!)
The only downside to leather (other than the price) is that you can't safely use antibacterial cleaning solvents on them without stripping their finish or color.
What you can do is wipe down its fabric lining with hot soapy water and use a leather conditioner to keep it pretty on the outside, too.
Don't stress - the takeaway here isn't that you should obsessively sterilize your handbag. Just because bacteria can cause you to get sick doesn't mean they will.
Here's how to protect yourself in simple ways.
CHOOSE SAFE HOMES. Designate a hook or shelf near the entry door to hang or stash your purse on. That way, you'll avoid picking up - or dropping off - bacteria via the germ-laden kitchen counter. Don't toss it on your bed, either, where it could spread germs throughout your bedroom.
WATCH WHAT GOES INSIDE. If you need to bring your workout shoes or lunch with your on the way out the door, bag them in protective plastic before you put them inside. Food and shoes can provide a fertile growing ground for bacteria. Your purse might smell better, too.
KEEP UP WITH THE HAND HYGIENE. Regularly wash your hands or use that hand sanitizer in your purse, and you'll sleep better at night knowing you've done everything within your power to stay healthy.