A recent post, “I Like It on the Kitchen Table,” got me to thinking about my purse and all the places it has been. One thing lead to another and soon I was immersed in a world of germs.
The Germs on Your Purse
My purse travels with me everywhere I go. I put it on the floor of my car. At work, I like to hang it from my office door handle. In restaurants, place it on an unused chair. I’ve even been known to hang it from my knee, but sometimes there is no choice but to put it on the floor.
I wouldn’t dream of putting it on floor of a public restroom, but I will rest it on the counter by the sink while I wash my hands. Now I realize that’s not much better than placing it right on the toilet if you’re trying to avoid contaminating your purse with germs.
I consider myself a very clean person, but I hate to think about what horrors lurk on and in my purse.
A 2006 ABC report made my stomach do flip flops. After testing women’s purses, especially the bottom, microbiologist Chuck Gerba found organisms that are normally found on the floor of a restroom. These organisms are responsible for cold viruses and viruses that cause diarrhea, among other things.
His research turned up purses carrying from tens of thousands of bacteria to 6.7 million bacteria. Half of the bags were positive for coliform bacteria — indicating the possible presence of human or animal waste. These bacteria are transported around everywhere the woman goes with the purse — right to your kitchen table, if you’ve ever placed your purse there. If you keep your purse anywhere in the kitchen, you might want to change that habit. And we really should clean it once in awhile.
None of this even touches upon what’s IN the purse. Oh, but our purses are just the tip of the iceberg…
The Germs in the Restroom
Purses aside, research has repeatedly confirmed that women are much more vigilant than men when it comes to washing their hands, especially after using a public restroom. Yet another article indicated that male restrooms are cleaner than female restrooms! Yes, we women are more likely to wash our hands properly, but the room itself is higher in E.coli and other coliforms. Most are found around the sink area (where I generally do place my purse), while men’s restrooms have more contamination on the floor.
The Germs in Your Office
Before we pat ourselves on the back for our efforts at hand washing, it has also been shown that women have three to four times the number of bacteria in their office space than men, according to a 2007 study from the University of Arizona.
Although women’s offices appeared to be cleaner, our desks, phones, computers, keyboards, drawers, and personal items are a virtual hotbed of bacteria. I may call in sick tomorrow.
The culprits? Females generally have more interactions with young children, tend to have food in their desks, display more knickknacks, and the top carrier of germs — makeup — followed by hand lotion, the phone, purse, and desk drawers. Makeup and hand lotion involve lots of hand and face touching and trap germs, transferring them to many other surfaces.
The biggest source of germs in the office, however, turned out to be men’s wallets, which rated worse than purses. The average office desktop has 400 times more bacteria than the average office toilet seat.
Oh, I’m definitely calling in sick tomorrow. But then I’ll have to think about germs in the home. Sigh.