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

coronavirus handbag cleaning
(Image credit: 2020 Kirstin Sinclair)

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.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.