Covid-19: How to stop the virus surviving on your handbag

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  • While it doesn’t seem like we need them right now, most of us are still using handbags for our essential outings, such as doing the food shop (if you’re not lucky to nab an Ocado slot). And with handbags being notoriously full of bacteria at the best of times, so should we be even more careful during the Coronavirus pandemic?

    Jade Flinn, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNRN, nurse educator at Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit, sheds light on the situation.

    How dirty is your handbag?

    Handbags tend to be a vector for bacteria and viruses as they are a well-traveled item that sits on multiple surfaces including floors and are not an item that aren’t typically cleaned regularly.

    Can the virus survive in or on your handbag?

    Viruses like SARS-CoV-2 that causes the pandemic disease, COVID-19, survives on surfaces differently. On harder surfaces like countertops, it tends to be viable for several days days versus on porous surfaces, like cloth or cardboard, it can last from hours to a few days. Depending on the different surfaces of the handbags, the virus can last and become a potential vector that moves it from place to place.

    Are there items in your handbag that could specifically carry more germs?

    Think of what you take in and out of your hand bag the most frequently. The most frequently touched items should be the most frequently disinfected. Things that come to mind are mobile phones, keys, and wallet contents like IDs and cards.

    Should I clean my handbag after going out?

    Handbag cleaning may not be necessary if the handbag itself did not enter public spaces and rest on surfaces that were unknown to be cleaned like store countertops or cafeteria tables. If the handbag was exposed to people who may have been sick or was on high traffic areas like floors, it would be a good idea to clean the handbag to mitigate any risk of that item becoming a vector in the household.

    Should I quarantine my handbag?

    Leaving an item, like a bag, undisturbed to dry out and desiccate any viral particles may be helpful but is not recommended over disinfection and cleaning.

    How to clean my handbag

    The best way to clean handbags include the use of gloves to protect yourself, disinfectant solution or disinfectant wipes or perhaps some soap and water.

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