The company reported that, on average, one in five handbags contains a significant amount of harmful bacteria that can pose a threat to human health.
Technical Manager at Initial Hygiene, Peter Barratt, said:
"Handbags come into regular contact with our hands and a variety of surfaces, so the risk of transferring different germs onto them is very high, especially as bags are rarely cleaned.
Once these germs get on the bags, they can easily be transferred via hands onto other surfaces. Regular hand sanitization is essential to prevent the presence of bacteria in the first place and thorough cleaning of bags is recommended to prevent the build-up of contamination."
The researchers said that leather handbags in particular pose the most significant health hazard, because their spongy material is an ideal environment for most bacteria.
This finding means that the most cherished handbags of many women may actually be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
Bottles of hand cream appear to be the dirtiest and most infected items carried in the average handbag.
Some handbags harbor more bacteria than the average toilet
What can be done?Cleaning and/or washing a handbag helps keep bacteria levels down to a minimum. Not many women regularly clean their bags.
The team urge women to use antibacterial wipes or specific handbag cleaners.
They also suggest that perhaps women should wash their hands or use hand sanitizers after placing their hands inside their bags.
Not only handbagsIt may come as a surprise that so many handbags contain more bacteria than the average toilet, however, other recent findings have found more unlikely sources that may also infect people.
The company found that half of surfaces in workplace kitchens contain dangerously high levels of coliforms, a form of bacteria found in feces, which can lead to gastrointestinal diseases.
UK consumer watchdog and publication group Which? conducted a survey a few years ago which revealed that many computer keyboards have dangerously high levels of "toilet" bacteria.
Earphones and headphone are also potential bacteria hot spots. If they are used by different people, germs as well as head lice can spread from person-to-person.
Earphones and headphones may be sources of bacterial infections. When these are shared among users they can spread germs and even head lice.