There are so many TV commercial that extol the virtues of their antibacterial soaps and cleaners stating that they "kill 99.9% of germs." Wow, that sounds terrific, right? Shouldn’t we all want germ free hands and countertops?
Unfortunately, there are a number of problems with "antibacterial" products!
- A study done by the FDA showed that “mass-marketed antiseptics have shown no evidence of preventing infections more effectively than hand washing with regular soap.”
- What the commercials do not tell you is that in order for the antibacterial
elements (usually triclosan) of soap to kill 99.9% of germs on
your hands, the soap must remain in contact with bacteria for
about two minutes. How many of us spend that much time washing
our hands? The same is true for kitchen cleaners . . . the
cleaner must sit for at least two minutes to be effective.
- Natural bacteria that live on our skin act as a first line of defense to help fight off bad bacteria. Antibacterial agents do not discriminate between bad and good bacteria, they kill them all.
- Antibacterial agents may work on bacteria, but they do nothing to protect against viruses which cause the majority of minor illnesses like colds and flu.
- Scientists know that long-term exposure to chemical antibacterial agents causes bacterial resistance. Only a few years after the first antibiotic, penicillin, became widely used in the 1940s, penicillin-resistant infections were already seen. “Superbugs,” bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics, now force the development of stronger and stronger antibacterial agents to fight illness.
- As these antibacterial agents wash down your drain they contaminate our rivers, streams and groundwater. A study in 2004 by the CDC found that, “about three-quarters of adults and children older than six had detectable levels of triclosan” (the most common antibacterial agent) in their bloodstreams.
A Few Words About Triclosan
Triclosan is one of the most common synthetic antibacterial agents used in antibacterial soaps, lotions, acne products, cosmetics and other personal care products. Triclosan has been found to particularly harmful to health and has been linked to endocrine disruption and allergies. The Triclosan in commercial products gets washed down our drains contaminating our nation’s waterways.
It is classified as a pesticide by the EPA and as a drug by the FDA. The EPA considers it a possible risk to human health and to the environment. It most certainly does not belong in personal care products.
Read the article published on Ecowatch on November 23, 2013 Lawsuit Forces FDA to Finally Enforce Removal of Endocrine Disruptor Triclosan From Soaps
What should we do?
For personal use we recommend a good washing with soap and water. Simply washing your hands with good old-fashioned soap and water rids your skin of about 99.9% of all fungi, bacteria and viruses. Soap does not kill germs; it surrounds them and carries them away.
So the best way to keep your hands free and clear of germs is to rub your hands with soap under running water to create lots of lather. Then rinse with plenty of clean warm water. Although cold water will work, warm water helps dissolve oily dirt making it easier to rinse it off of your skin. Of course Chagrin Valley soaps are a great choice to clean your hands and body the wholesome way.
For household chores we recommend plain, ordinary, vinegar. White vinegars, like Heinz, contain at least 5 percent acetic acid and are called 5 percent vinegars. It is the acidic properties that make vinegar a great household cleaner. We pour full-strength white vinegar into a trigger spray bottle and use it to clean just about everything. Vinegar is non-toxic, biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and does not give off dangerous fumes. While vinegar does have a distinct odor, the smell dissipates quickly.
There is a lot of information available on the Internet describing how to use vinegar as a household cleaner. One that we found particularly helpful is "28 Practical Uses for Vinegar, Nature's Magic Cleanser."