3D movies are all the rage - but how clean are those reusable glasses?

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PHOENIX - Gone are the days of those disposable 3D glasses.

Now, it's all about the plastic, recyclable glasses to make the most out of your movie-going experience, and chances are you're not the only person who's slipped on those same pair of 3D shades.

So, just how clean are your 3D glasses?

3 On Your Side wanted to find out, so, we went to a handful of theaters across the Valley and purchased tickets to 3D, and IMAX 3D movies.

For regular 3D movies, we were given these pre-packaged glasses. But, for IMAX 3D films, we were handed a pair of glasses straight off a rack.

We took swabs of those IMAX glasses as well as regular 3D glasses and asked Stan Kikkert, director of biotechnology at Mesa Community College to test both styles for harmful bacteria.

We also swabbed the surfaces of headrests, armrests and movie theater railings.

What we found surprised not only us, but also the movie-goers we showed our results to.

“That's disgusting, that's really bad,” one woman said.

“We have quite an abundance of bacteria and actually several different species that are on these glasses that are apparently being ready to be given out to a new customer,” Stan said.

While the packaged 3D glasses turned out to not have much bacteria on them at all, the IMAX 3D glasses showed quite a bit of germ growth.

“A little bit higher than you'd like to see for the glasses that you'd be handing to a customer,” Stan said.

As for the surfaces of things you might touch before you put on your glasses like headrests, armrests and hand railings?

“Oh my gosh! What is that?!” one movie-goer wondered.

Stan says the were covered in all kinds of stuff.

“We do have some molds as well and there are some fungi there in the middle,” he said.

While we weren’t able to find out exactly what the bacteria was, a recent test by Good Housekeeping Magazine found an unwrapped pair of glasses contaminated with staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria known to cause pinkeye, skin infections and even pneumonia.

Stan Kikkart says the results in our test are the type we encounter on a daily basis, but says the outcome serves as a good reminder.

“It's generally good practice just to maintain good hygiene, to wash your hands and not touch your face,” he said. “Things like that with your hands kind of as a general sense and that's kind of your best precaution when you're going to these kind of public places.”