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HHI-Pedia Entry

Antibacterial Products

By HousekeepingChannel.com

Bacteria, fungi and viruses are everywhere, all the time. In an era of scary news about pandemic flu, hepatitis and other virulent diseases, consumer-products manufacturers have introduced antibacterial washes, soaps, cleaners, cloths and wipes aimed at helping protect families from illness.

 

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Yet, many of these products are no more effective at stopping the spread of germs than just giving diligent attention to the following:

  • Regular, thorough and effective hand washing with plain soap and hot water.

  • Keeping commonly used surfaces clean and dry, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom.

When you wash and dry your hands well, they won’t have bacteria or viruses on them when you unconsciously rub your eyes or touch your mouth or nose, three very common places for infections to enter the body. Clean, dry surfaces help slow the spread of illnesses among people.

Many people may not realize that antibacterial chemicals are basically pesticides, something of a concern for people who want to do the right thing by the environment. Formulated to kill bacteria, these do nothing against viruses, which cause the common cold, influenza and a host of other infectious illnesses.

Bacteria need moisture, warmth and food. When you keep hands and household surfaces clean and dry, you’re denying bacteria the environment in which they thrive. Viruses — particularly those that cause colds and flu — are different, in that they can survive in a dormant state outside of a human host, in some cases for long periods. Once picked up by an accommodating host, they begin to multiply and infect through a process known as replication.

Researchers skeptical about antibacterial products voice two main concerns about their use:

  • People who seek to destroy every germ around them may only make themselves more vulnerable to infection, since the presence of germs may help to strengthen the immune system.

  • Antibacterial chemicals found in these products will end up in environmental water. The targeted microbes may eventually develop resistance to the action of the antimicrobial agent.

 

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Antibacterial Products:  Created on June 4th, 2009.  Last Modified on December 18th, 2009

 

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