How many times a day would you say you touched your handbag?

From looking for your purse, delving in to retrieve your mobile, clutching it to you in busy crowds, we’d guess upwards of 20 times.

And hands up if you’ve ever dumped your bag on the dinner table, or even on your bed?

Well, here’s some scary reading for you - according to a UK study for hygiene group Initial, 20% of handbags contain more bacteria than the average toilet flush.

Swabs from dozens of handbags and loo handles were collected to compare and contrast the levels of bacterial transfer in each group.

And the amount of bacteria in your handbag is enough to risk cross-contamination between the items in your bag, your phone, your makeup and everything else you touch.

It also turns out that mascara and other common beauty-bag items can turn into major health hazards once you’ve had them for a while.

Makeup bag

According to researchers from the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, old make-up is to blame for more than half of all bloodstream infections.

Brushes and wands are breeding grounds for bacteria that can cause eye infections and skin diseases, while expired lipsticks can make lips dry and blistered.

The maximum time you should keep using your make-up once opened is four-to-six months for mascara, 24 months for lipstick, 18-24 months for eye shadow and just 36 months for perfume.

In reality women admit to keeping mascara for a year, lipstick for up to 10 years and eye shadow for an incredible 15 years.

And putting that theory to the test, Good Morning Britain presenters Kate Garraway and Charlotte 

So the lesson here is to hang your bag up wherever you can – especially avoiding the toilet floor - keep track of how long you’ve had your best beauty buys and stock up on anti-bacterial wipes.

How often do you clean your handbag? Tell us in the Comments box below.