Published on June 15, 2010 3:29 PM

How Clean Are Those 3D Glasses?

The web has been up in arms for the past week, ever since American lifestyle magazine Good Housekeeping decided to check just how clean the 3D glasses hired out by cinemas are.

Depending on your cinema, two different types of glasses are used.  Lightweight passive glasses that use polarized lenses are usually yours to keep, but the heavier, more complex active glasses are normally rented out and have to be returned at the end of the film.  They move from one person's nose to the next all day long right through the week.  In theory, everybody is supposed to clean them down with the wipe that is usually supplied with them.

Just asking the question makes you wonder what you'll find: with so many blocked noses and tears flowing, then it's hardly surprising to find some pretty shocking results.

Here's what the magazine had to say after its survey:

"One of the four unwrapped pairs was contaminated with staphylococcus aureus (the so-called golden staph.  This is the same type of bacteria that can cause skin infections, pinkeye, even pneumonia."

Don't eat them!

The magazine claims to have been 'startled' by these results, noting that not a single pair of glasses was sterile—but it's probably a bit naive to expect that level of cleanliness isn't it?  They are careful to point out that the actual health risks are low, but it's important to be careful, especially with children who are likely to put them in their mouth.

ABC took the investigation further, adding the opinions of bacteriologists who further clarified the matter.  They pointed out that there are other sources of bacteria at the cinema that pose the same kind of threat: drop some popcorn down the back of your seat and pick it out and eat it and you'll be exposed to similar sorts of bacteria.  Still, it would be a sensible step for cinemas to start sterilizing glasses properly.

Keep them clean!

Using a cleaning wipe with an alcoholic solution can get rid of 95% of germs, so next time you're at the cinema, make sure you use it properly, by rubbing the glasses all over, and not just on the lenses so you get a good view.

And if you're going to get one of the first 3D TVs, make sure you keep some wipes to hand ...