Deadly E coli, poisonous bacteria and traces of excrement are among the horrors that have been found lurking at the bottom of women’s handbags.
The grim findings were made by researchers after studying swabs of the insides of handbags, laptop and gym holdalls across the UK.
Other toxic terrors at the bottom of bags included faecal streptococcus, which can cause meningitis, and pseudomonas, a common hospital infection.
Experts blame poor personal hygiene for the rise in bag bugs. Of those quizzed, one in three women admitted they never cleaned their handbag.
Many admitted they use them to carry shoes, dirty underwear and snotty tissues on a daily basis.
Worryingly, one in five said they would happily chew a piece of gum they found loose in the bottom of their holdall, unaware of the hygiene horrors.
The swab tests were carried out on thousands of volunteers’ handbags by Mentos Pure Fresh Gum.
Claire Powley, from Mentos, said: “Our results are shocking, particularly as so many of us wouldn’t think twice about eating loose gum found in the bottom of our bag, completely unaware to the harmful bacteria we are putting into our mouths.”
Last week, scientists revealed most holy water at places of worship contains harmful bacteria and should come with health warnings.
Saving the environment and reusing shopping bags also comes with its own risks, experts have said.
Cross-contamination builds up in bags used over and over again and increases the chances of bringing home unwanted health risks.
Health experts advise replacing shopping bags every six months.