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Thomas J. Story

Your Handbag

Your Marc Jacobs? Dirty? Yep. Think petri dish. When women’s purses were tested not long ago, they found that most had tens of thousands of bacteria on the bottom and a few were overrun with millions. Another study found bugs like pseudo-monas (which can cause eye infections), and skin-infection-causing staphylococcus bacteria, as well as salmonella and E. coli. Your makeup case is every bit as bad, as are your guy’s wallet and personal digital assistant.

Reduce the risk: Instead of slinging your bag on the floor, hang it on a hook whenever you can -- especially in public bathrooms -- and keep your bag off the kitchen counter. Stick with leather or vinyl purses, which are typically cleaner than cloth (less-porous surfaces are more impervious to germs). And wipe your bag down every few days with a mild soap or disinfectant, then let it air dry. Brand name, alas, makes no difference.

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