How Effective Are Antibacterial Products?

Washing hands

Washing hands

On the market you can find hundreds of antibacterial products from liquid soaps and toothpastes to deodorants, clothing, tissues and toys.

When researchers began adding a compound called triclosan to household products, bold labels with “antibacterial” appeared on bottles of dishwashing soaps around the country. In no time it was a hit with homemakers, especially those with children who looked forward to winters without, fever, runny noses and flu.

Many thought it was a brilliant idea and stocked their shelves with products that promised to keep their homes germ free. They would no longer need to wipe their kitchen down with chlorine bleach to get rid of those pesky bacteria. Although they were not visible, they were there, waiting to make someone in their family sick.

Now years later, those same researchers are discovering that these products do more harm than good. Bacteria is becoming more resistant and triclosan is not as effective as it was 35 years ago when it was first invented.

The compound also carries a serious risk. Triclosan can react to chlorine in drinking water and form chloroform, which is a carcinogen.

On the market you can find hundreds of antibacterial products from liquid soaps and toothpastes to deodorants, clothing, tissues and toys. Colgate Total, Old Spice High Endurance Stick Deodorant, Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel and J Cloth towels are just a few popular brands found on the supermarket shelves.

As the H1N1 virus is expected to hit this coming flu season, we are all searching for ways to protect ourselves. Experts agree that washing your hands frequently with plain soap and water is effective if done correctly. The friction caused by rubbing your hands together causes the bacteria to be washed down the drain but you have to do it for at least 15 seconds to get the job done.

This article was written specifically for notjustthekitchen.com.

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Photo: K.M. Henri