The Best Way to Kill Germs

A study from the University of Michigan School of Public Health says that those liquid antibacterial soaps are no better at preventing infection than regular soaps! What’s worse — using antibacterial soaps may decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. Antibacterial soaps that contain triclosan (in liquid form) or triclocarban (in bar form) have been associated with antibiotic resistance.

The study authors suggest skipping products labeled “antibacterial” and sticking to other cleaners.

  1. The best cleanser out there is good old soap and water. Scrub your hands for at least twenty seconds — including under your nails and between your fingers. Rinse in warm water. This may not be the most convenient choice; how often in a busy day do you have a sink, soap, and a towel handy?
  2. Your next best bet is an alcohol-based sanitizer. Look for a formula that contains 62% ethyl alcohol for on-the-go cleaning. However, alcohol won’t work well if there’s visible dirt on your hands. Alcohol-based sanitizers are good for a quick touch-up, but not for serious dirt. These products can be dangerous to children, causing intoxication or poisoning.
  3. The third choice from the University of Michigan School of Public Health is a non-alcohol sanitizer. Look for a formula that contains benzalkonium chloride (BAC). These are safer for children because they don’t contain alcohol. However, BAC has been associated with some antibiotic resistance — far less frequently than antibacterial soaps containing triclosan or triclocarban.

The bottom line is that your best bet for cleaning is to find a sink and some soap! Washing your hands frequently throughout the day can help protect you from catching the latest bug that’s going around. On the down side, all that washing can leave your skin rough and dry. Use lotion after you wash and you’ll keep your hands clean and your skin supple.