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Clean Your Purse

July 17th, 2006, 12:39 PM
Clean Your Purse

Its' something just about every woman carries with her. While we may know what's inside our purses, do you have any idea what's on the outside? Shauna Lake put purses to the test - for bacteria - with surprising results. You may think twice about where you put your purse in the future.

Women carry purses everywhere, from the office to public restrooms to the floor of the car. Most women won't be caught without their purses, but did you ever stop to think about where your purse goes during the day?

"I drive a school bus, so my purse has been on the floor of the bus a lot," says one woman. "On the floor of my car, in restrooms." "I put my purse in grocery shopping carts, on the floor of bathroom stalls while changing a diaper," says another woman. "And of course in my home which should be clean."

We decided to find out if purses harbor a lot of bacteria. We learned how to test them at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake, then we set out to test the average woman's purse. Most women told us they didn't stop to think about what was on the bottom of their purse. Most said they usually set their purses on top of kitchen tables and counters where food is prepared. Most of the ladies we talked to told us they wouldn't be surprised if their purses were at least a little bit dirty.

It turns out purses are so surprisingly dirty, even the microbiologist who tested them was shocked. Microbiologist Amy Karren of Nelson Labs says nearly all the purses tested were not only high in bacteria, but high in harmful kinds of bacteria. Pseudomonas can cause eye infections, staphylococcus aurous can cause serious skin infections, and salmonella and e-coli found on the purses could make people very sick. In one sampling, four of five purses tested positive for salmonella. And that's not the worst of it. "There was fecal contamination on the purses," says Amy. (You know...poop?)

Leather or vinyl purses tended to be cleaner than cloth purses, and lifestyle seemed to play a role. People with kids tended to have dirtier purses than those without, with one exception. The purse of one single woman who frequented nightclubs had one of the worst contaminations of all. "Some type of feces, or even possibly vomit or something like that," says Amy.

So the moral of this story - your purse won't kill you, but it does has the potential to make you very sick if you keep it on places where you eat. Use hooks to hang your purse at home and in restrooms, and don't put it on your desk, on a restaurant table, or on your kitchen countertop.

Experts say you should think of your purse the same way you would a pair of shoes. "Would you consider putting a pair of shoes onto your countertops? Well that's the same thing you're doing when you put your purse on the countertops," says Amy.

The microbiologists at Nelson also said cleaning a purse will help. Wash cloth purses and use leather cleaner to clean the bottom of leather purses.

July 17th, 2006, 06:45 PM
I agree!! When we had our flu shot clinic - essentially to promote flu shots amg medical personnel at the hospital - as well as compromised patients - we also had a display where people could wash their hands and then place them under a machine to see whether they were in fact cleaned. The vast majority were not - there was still visable bacteria!!! I do surgical procedures and thought I had this practioce down pat and even I had a few spots. (Fortunately, one wears gloves when performing procedures). It was a serious wake up call for many - it is not just one's purse. Think of what we do with our hands and where they are all day!! I don't want to be like Howard Hughes but we do need to be cognizant of this.

July 17th, 2006, 09:00 PM
Is that an article or just a post?

(Lucky I don't carry a purse at all...;) )

July 18th, 2006, 02:31 AM
I can see why purses are so full of bacteria. During our trip my dd really noticed how many people washed their hands not very many.:yuck: Now imagine them putting their hands on those purses.

July 18th, 2006, 10:57 AM
I had never thought about it until a friend of mine mentioned that she didn't want people putting their purses on her kitchen counter or on any of her tables. When she explained why it totally made sense. I am now very careful where I leave my purse.

July 18th, 2006, 07:01 PM
I don't use purses. I have a few small bags/knapsacks from MEC that I interchange and are washable. Still, it's gross though.

July 20th, 2006, 11:03 PM
Ewwwwwww. :yuck:

I hang mine on the bathroom stall hook. I don't want it on the floor ugh.

July 20th, 2006, 11:11 PM
I usually hang mine around my neck. I remember hearing about someone at the airport in SF who hung theirs on the hook on the door and while they were sitting doing their business, someone reached over the door and took it!:eek: