Where exactly has your handbag been?

Kim Bolsover is a successful Colour and Style Image consultant whom I admire a lot in the image styling business. She shared the following story and I thought to share it with you.

My 87-year-old aunt sent me the following and I was so mortified by the contents that I just had to pass it on to you. I am normally tempted to say, “Enjoy!” but I don’t think I will this time…

Have you ever noticed those ladies who sit their handbags on public toilet floors and then go back to the dining room and set it on the table? It happens a lot! It’s not always restaurant food that causes stomach distress; sometimes it’s what you can’t see that will hurt you!




Read on…

Mum used to get really upset when guests arrived and plonked their handbags down on the worktop where she was cooking or handling food. She always said that handbags are really dirty, because of where they had been … Mums aren’t just pretty faces; they’re very smart too.

Just about every woman carries a handbag with her but while we may know what’s inside our handbags, do you have any idea what’s on the outside?

Most women wouldn’t be caught dead without their handbag, but did you ever stop to think about where your handbag visits during the day – from the office to public toilets to the floor of the car.

“I drive a school bus, so my handbag has been on the dirty floor of the bus a lot,” says one woman. “And it has been on the floor of my car, and in toilets.”

“I put my handbag in grocery shopping trolleys, on the floor of the toilet and, of course, in my home which should be clean,” says another.


We decided to find out if handbags harbour a lot of bacteria. We learned how to test them at Nelson Laboratories in Salt Lake City, USA, and then we set out to test the average woman’s handbag.

Most women told us they didn’t stop to think about what was on the bottom of their handbag. Most said that at home they usually put their handbags down on top of kitchen tables and worktops where food is prepared. Most of the ladies we talked to told us they wouldn’t be surprised if their handbags were at least a little bit dirty.

Sickening results

It turns out that handbags are so surprisingly dirty, that even the microbiologist who tested them was shocked. Microbiologist Amy Karen of Nelson Laboratories says that nearly all of the handbags 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 handbags could make people very sick.

High in harmful kinds of bacteria?In one sampling, four out of five handbags tested positive for salmonella, and that’s not the worst of it. “There is faecal contamination on the handbags,” says Amy.

Leather or vinyl handbags tended to be cleaner than cloth handbags, and lifestyle seemed to play a role. People with children tended to have dirtier handbags than those without, with one exception. The handbag of one single woman who frequented nightclubs had one of the worst contaminations of all. “Some type of faeces, or possibly vomit,” says Amy.

The moral of this story

Your handbag won’t kill you, but it does have the potential to make you very sick if you put it down anywhere near where you eat.

What you can do

– Use hooks to hang your handbag at home and in toilets

– Don’t put it on your desk, on a restaurant table, or on your kitchen worktop

– The microbiologists at Nelson also said cleaning will help. Wash cloth handbags regularly and use leather cleaner to clean the bottom of leather handbags



Experts say that you should think of your handbag in the same way that you would a pair of shoes, “If you ever thought about putting a pair of shoes onto your worktop, that’s just the same as putting your handbag on the worktop.”

Your handbag has probably been where people before you have sneezed, coughed, spat, urinated, and emptied their bowels! Do you really want to bring any of that home with you?


One thought on “Where exactly has your handbag been?

  1. Pingback: Must-Have: White Handbag - The Power Dresser

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