Over the last several years, there has been a huge upswing in the number of food poisoning outbreaks at food restaurants. But there’s an even larger danger for E. coli and other bacterial infections so common, it’s in just about every home, often times in multiple forms – technology, purses and wallets. It impacts everyone, gender notwithstanding because briefcases, shoes and toes fall into this same category.
Try traveling through an airport and really pay attention to what women do with their purses and bags. Think about it, ladies – where do you put your purse when you go into a public place? Generally, on the floor. What about public restrooms? Most restrooms have hooks to hang your bag but an amazing number of handbags will be on the floors of the airport restrooms. In your car, it’s usually on the floor; at work, on the floor under your desk. At the grocery store, it’s typically inside the cart, where that little kid with the runny nose was sitting just before you put your bag in there.
At home, where does it go? A lot of the time, on the kitchen counter or dining room table. So now, where do those germs go that you picked up at work, at the restaurant (whether sit-down or fast-food), at the museum? Onto your kitchen counter or dining room table. How often do you change handbags? Do you clean the bottom when you change bags or do you just throw it into the closet until you’re ready for it next time?
Think about it – could your purse have been the cause of your last stomach flu, not the food you ate at that restaurant?
A British research team looked at which had more bacteria – a purse or the seat of a public toilet? The British team found that the worst offender most carry in their handbags is lotion or hand cream. “Leather handbags appeared to be the prime real estate for bacteria. Charles Gerba, a professor at the University of Arizona-Tuscon, says “the bottom is likely the most bacteria-ridden part of a purse, as some will place their bags directly on the bathroom floor. A toilet seat typically has somewhere around 3,200 CFUs on it.” Another study found high levels of harmful types of bacteria that cause the most common flu-like illnesses. For instance, Pseudamonas can cause eye infections. Staphylococcus aureous causes skin infections. Salmonella and E. coli were also found on the bottom of purses along with (hold your stomachs) a large amount of fecal material. The tests show that men’s wallets hold the same number of harmful germs; think about that the next time you reach into your back pocket to pull it out and lay it down on the counter at the store.
Lifestyle also plays a role, which was no surprise … people who are more active, out more in public or who have children tend to have higher contamination rates.
Turns out not just your wallet or purse can kill you, but how can you avoid it? Use hooks to hang purses at home and in public places. Do not put your purse or wallet on countertops, desks, tables, etc. Basically, think of your purse or wallet the same way you would anything else that comes into contact with the floor, like your shoes – it comes into contact with whatever happened in that place before you. And most of all, clean your purse or wallet with antibacterial soap frequently – there are wipes and solutions available that won’t harm the fabric or leather.
Want to compare your technology, door handles, etc with what you might typically think of as really dirty? Check out this article.