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Antibacterial Soaps - Not all that it's cracked up to be

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Well everyone, it's another science post from me.

This time it's about antibacterial soaps and cleaners. The cleaners that are more effective against bacteria and are better at protecting the family from infections and diseases. Right?

Well not exactly.

Antibacterial soap won't cut infection - News in Science Australian Broadcasting Corporation
post #2 of 20
Sounds like typically nonsense science to me, or more likely bad reporting (reporters ignore many, many, many, waaaaay to many of the details of scientific research to make their scare tactic stories). As reported they did not track actual use of antibacterial products just gave away free soap (which doesn't tell you anything about whether anybody actually used it). Neither did they track the rate of infections which soap could reasonably be expected to reduce (salmonella, etc...).
post #3 of 20
Well not much of a surprise since it is viruses that causes most of the infections.

What I am surprised is that the research shows that super resistant bacteria is not forming on the person's body after long time usage of the anti-bacteria soaps.

Besides, bacteria is a important part of our life. Did you know that babies who grow up in an extremely clean environment have greater probability of having asthma and also allergies? A baby growing up in household with a pet has a greatly reduce probability in getting asthma and allergies. Also such studies have shown that if the babies suffer from fever when they are below 1 year of age their immune system is stronger when they grow up.
post #4 of 20
I heard about that research in one of my magazines, I think it was the smithsonian. They suggested that people use those water free antiseptic washes.
post #5 of 20
I've read multiple times that all of these antibacterial soaps, etc. actually cause more resistant strains of bacteria to mutate and develop. It is said that it is just important to wash your hands, and not necessarily with an antibacterial agent. It's the good old soap and water that does the trick.
post #6 of 20
Not a big surprise here. I had a roommate in college who's mother was a nurse and the only thing she would ever swear by was Clorox.
post #7 of 20
I have just this minute washed my hands with Dettol Antibacterial Liquid Wash and then I saw this thread LOL. I do hope it does something as it's so important for me to keep bugs away from the tiny kittens. I use it so much as I don't want to transfer infections from sick kittens either. What do you guys use after handling kittens or litter pans etc?
post #8 of 20
Anti-bacterial soap is so BAD.... (this is my soapbox, bear with me)

There are so many reasons why -

- first off they don't work unless you wash your hands for about two minutes, how many people actually wash their hands for this amount of time?

- With the misuse of antibiotics, including soap, it produces bacteria that are immune to antibiotics. Things like pneumonia, strep throat, and other bacterial infections, are harder to cure, and more cases are occuring these days. Penicillian is pretty much not used anymore, because it was misused and created immune bacteria.

- The soap kills GOOD bacteria on your hands that create a barrier, so now bad bacteria can get in.

- It also creates a weaker immune system, when an infection occurs the body fights off the infection and creates antigens that will reconize the bacteria the next time it comes around. By using antibacterial soap, it makes your immune system fight less, so when an infection gets through, its a lot harder to get rid of. Think of it as your immune system is in training, and by using antibacterial products, your body is out of training, and doesnt know how to react.

the instant hand sanitizer, with a high alcohol percentage is okay to use because its fast acting, and the alcohol doesnt get washed off under running water. Although, its not good to use this many times a day.

Ive studied up on this matter, and when I took my college microbiology class, my professor would go on and on about it. Its a huge issue, and there are all sorts of studies that support this.

Heres a couple of sites to go to:


http://www.practicalhippie.com/antibacterial.htm -- this is a good site, it links to a number of studies, and even has a few links to opposing views.

I'm sorry that this is long, but this is a serious issue, and Its something that I feel is so Important.
post #9 of 20
post #10 of 20
Well I use Dettol, we have in situated in both bathrooms, the washroom and under the kitchen sink, it's got such good reviews and we used to use it in the Pizza shop we used to own. Geez! So what exactly does kill the germs??

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Okay, antibacterial washes are good to use, however the problem lies that when people use them, they rely on the antibacterial power of these cleaners and less on the washing action used.

Simply rubbing your hands together and letting the water rinse off isn't going to be as effective as rubbing your hands together creating lather and continually rubbing during the rinsing process, and even then, it must be done for two minutes or more.

I initially posted to make people aware that antibacterial cleaners are not the be all and end all when it comes to hygeine. They do work but not according to what advertising will tell you, and certainly not what the colourful animations show either.

Antibacterial washes do kill good bacteria as well. But if you are dealing with young animals or sick ones or any individual that has a repressed immune system, it's better to kill good and bad bacteria to lower risk of infection. In burn units in hospitals, bacteria levels are constantly being kept to a minimum to prevent infection amongst patients, and even the good bacteria is kept at bay.

A lot of things will kill germs, and even then it depends on what is classified as germs.

Heat, water, physically breaking their membrane, (ie scrubbing action), alcohol, detergent, antibacterial agents, antiviral agents, even the old cake of soap and hot water will kill bacteria.

The thing to remember is, these are cleaners and will not make your hands sterile, that is free of bacteria.

What do I do after handling litter pans or injured/sick/young animals?

Well I wash my hands thoroughly. I use liquid soap and hot water. Scrub for two minutes, sometimes more. Dry my hands on a paper towel and dispose of it in the bin.

Sam, don't fret, Dettol does kill germs.
post #12 of 20
I first saw this picture when I was "taught" how to wash my hands in the correct way, I thought it was real funny. Fancy teaching someone how to wash their hands. But it is the 'correct' way I suppose.

Hope the picture attaches
post #13 of 20
Thats really interesting!. I always buy a soap dispenser for work which is anti-bacterial, but it does make you think.

THY451: I wish i could copy that diagram you put on and stick it in the bathroom at work here!. We have a 17 year old who works in the office and a couple of us have noticed that she never washes her hands after going to the toilet uuuuuuuuurgh!!!. I end up opening the door with a tissue when i leave!
post #14 of 20
Tnis is the most important thing we can do towards good health, but did any of you know that there is a cheap inexpensive way to make your own sanitizing all over the house (except wooden furniture, walls, etc....) cleaner? All you need is an empty spray bottle, any kind will do, rinsed out well if it used to contain cleaners.Then you need some isopropyl alcohol, the kind you use to clean cuts and abrasions, medical kind, and ammonia, any scent you like. ( I like lemon scent.) And Water. You mix 1/3 alcohol in your bottle, pour 1/3 ammonia next, then fill the rest up with water. This solution cleans counter surfaces, any surface actually and deoderizes and kills germs! I love it I don't have to buy fancy cleaners for counters, walls and such anymore which saves alot of money. I use it to clean up my kitties cages in case they had an accident, I spray it all over the bathroom fixtures, doorknobs, the phone handle, let your imagination run wild! It probably isn't good for wood stuff like I said or anything delicately fixed. It's great for cleaning in the fridge, stove, sinks. All I have to buy in cleaning supplies is ammonia, alcohol, dish soap, clorox, laundry soap, murphys oil soap and ajax, and I'm set to clean house! I know this has nothing to do with hands, but if you can have help to keep surfaces clean, that means less germs, and..... less hands touching germs! Universal precautions for hand washing helps alot too. happy cleaning! hootiecat
post #15 of 20
Originally posted by TheDivineOomba
Anti-bacterial soap is so BAD.... (this is my soapbox, bear with me)
Thank you TDO! I too had read all this research actually years ago and have never bought any of these products because of it. It's heartening to hear some doctor's changing their tunes on oversterilization of your environment. In fact, I just read some research in ways to prevent your children from getting allergies: don't overclean, let them play in dirt, and get a dog or cat. I'm always very interested in long term effects of environmental modifications (like decontaminating your hands).
post #16 of 20
post #17 of 20
I always try to buy non-antibacterial soaps... I really love homemade soaps, they are so gentle.

I do wash my hands a lot... and I never get sick.. but I don't use any anti-bacterial products.

I tend to think that we are a little over-obsessed when it comes to cleanliness (that coming from someone who showers 2x a day )
post #18 of 20
hootiecat, thank you so much for the recipe for that cleaner. I will give it a go. If I wasn't fostering sick or immuno-compromised kittens, I'd simply use soap and water but I feel I really need to use something stronger that has an antibacterial action.
post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 
Tania, in your situation, definitely stick to whatever antibacterial cleaner you're using now. It's working and it's not upsetting those precious bundles of yours.
post #20 of 20
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