Public restrooms, Subway handles, the floor of a Fraternity house... all places that you know are dirty. You avoid touching things, wash your hands at the first chance, or grab some hand sanitizer the second you're away from them. Little did you know, however, that there is something in your every-day life that is just as dirty, if not more so.

Your favorite handbag, which you likely bring everywhere, has more bacteria on its handle than the average toilet flush. Yes, you read that correctly! A study published by a UK hygiene services company brings to light the shocking (and disgusting) truth about handbag hygiene.

1 in 5 bag handles has enough bacteria on it to seriously risk cross-contamination, in that it will easily transfer from your hands to your keyboard at work, to the conference room table. Not only does this put you at a significant risk of getting sick, but others around you as well (and the same goes for all women who carry purses). This test was done on office workers' bags, and though 1 in 5 have that risk, the dirtiest of them all was home to three times that level of bacteria.

It was discovered that leather provides the perfect conditions for the growth and spreading of bacteria, because of its spongy texture. Great, right? On the plus side, however, leather is pretty easy to clean - and regularly wiping down your bags is a huge help.

Inside the bags, the study found the dirtiest item to be face or hand cream -- which had more bacteria than a toilet seat (ew). Next in line after these creams were lipstick and mascara, both of which already have a shelf life on their own, without factoring in the added risk from your purse!

The problem here is that your bags are rarely cleaned, but constantly touched. You put them everywhere: from the floor next to your desk to your kitchen counter, so they easily pick up and drop off unwanted... stuff.

So now that you know, what can you do? Washing your hands often always helps, as does wiping down your bags periodically with anti-bacterial wipes. Keep your bag off the floor when possible, but don't put it on tables or kitchen counters where you'll likely rest your hands or be eating. Use bag hooks whenever you're in a restroom or at a bar, and designate a space in your home solely for purses (especially for guests).

Take good care of your handbags, as you would your other favorite items. And remember -- if you don't up your cleaning regimen, you'll wind up carrying around a lot more than you were planning to.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Jupiterimages

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