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02 January 2011

The Flawed Logic Behind Anti-bacterial Soaps

There are varieties of cleansers and pesticides that boast about being able to continue to kill for hours to days after being applied. In my experience you have to take the fine print with a grain of salt. The effectiveness of these items will vary with the conditions. So after you spray, sprinkle or spread, go back and check to see if it's still working.

This same kind of thinking seems to have gotten wound around anti-bacterial soaps. People seem to use them as though they can wash their hands and then continue to touch things and the germs will just die. The whole idea of soap and washing your hands is that in addition to running water, the dirt, the filth, the germs get removed and carried down the drain with the water. You should apply this same method to anti-bacterial soaps. You lather your hands, rinse, dry and go back to whatever you were doing. The way I look at the anti-bacterial part is that hopefully it is killing the germs on my hands and they're not continuing to live in the water that goes down the drain. That way maybe there's one less burden on the water treatment system.

Here's another part of the flawed logic with anti-bacterial soaps. If you spray something on a surface that is supposed to kill things after the initial contact with the surface, that means that there is still pesticide or germicide or some other "icide" on the surface after you've sprayed and wiped down. If you wash with anti-bacterial soap, do you want that killing chemical on your hands for hours afterwards? If you're eating you're going to ingest the stuff, if you rub your eyes...see where I'm going with this?

I don't worry so much about creating resistant strains of bacteria by using the soap because I view its effectiveness as only for that wash-up session and not as an it-kills-for-hours item.

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