Your Healthy Family

Feb 2, 2012 10:04 AM by Jennifer Horbelt

How dirty is your purse?

For most women, living without our purse would be a nightmare. We take it everywhere: to school, work, the doctor's office, even the bathroom. Have you ever wondered how many germs your purse picks up in a day? We decided to find out.

Three purses. A microbiologist with a sense of humor.

"Alright, that one looks pretty good!" Microbiologist Nikki Fette with Parkview Hospital's Medical Lab said with a laugh, showing us what she picked up on a swab off one of our purses.

Throw in some tentative subjects.

"I may never carry a purse again," Annie Rice, a News 5 viewer, said of her purse being tested.

"Yeah, this is really making me nervous," I told Fette.

It's a recipe for a great science experiment. Fette grabbed the tools to do her job: gauze, test tubes and more. It's all to put our purses to the test.

"This part is really the part that is in contact with the floor all the time," Fette said as she swabbed the bottom of my purse.

She also swabbed our handles, and these bags have quite a rap sheet.

"It was on the bottom of the stadium floor, underneath my seat, and it collected quite a bit of liquid. Some of the beer spillage and all that, so I'm sure it's gross!" Rice, who works in home health, said.

"The stuff that the kids put in the purse, whenever they grab it," Amy Ward, one of News 5's studio crew members, told me of what she thinks gets her purse dirty.

"You go to the bathroom at a restaurant and you don't have a hook to hang your purse on," Fette said.

With samples in hand, Fette took off.

"We're going all the way back to microbiology," Fette said of our destination, where she prepared cultures of the samples for growth. "Something should grow. I got some pretty good grimy looking swabs off the purses."

She then incubated the cultures overnight in normal body heat temperatures. Two days later, the petri dishes were covered in bacterial growth.

Nothing that grew from our purses was either dangerous, or contagious, which is good news for us ladies. The lab found mostly bacillus, a bacteria in dirt and on the skin. Fette also found strep and staph, but both forms are considered harmless strains.

My purse and Rice's were the dirtiest. Ward's purse turned out to be the cleanest. She has a cloth purse, and washes it every few months.

Still, Fette says this test was a great example of how easily our purses pick up germs and bacteria, and that she could have found something contagious on our purses.

Here are some easy tips to keep your purse clean, and yourself healthy:

- Use hooks when available.

-If in the restroom and no hook is available, place purse on paper towel.

-Don't put purse on kitchen counter ,kitchen table, desk or bed.

-If possible, wash your purse.

-Wipe down bottom of purse and handle with sanitizing wipes or hand sanitizer.

-Most importantly, wash your hands!



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