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PursesCarrying Filth

Shauna Lake
Reporting

(KUTV) SALT LAKE CITY Its' something just about every woman carries with them. 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.

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, probably 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 of 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 is fecal contamination on the purses,” says Amy.

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.

“If you think about putting a pair of shoes onto your countertops, 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.


(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)


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