Do You Have to Use Harsh Chemicals to Kill Germs and Bacteria?
There is a lot of talk in the media about the spread of germs and flu bugs. The question that naturally arises from this is how to kill germs and if harsh chemicals are necessary.
Universally the number one recommendation that come from every authority figure on the prevention of picking up germs that lead to infection and illness is hand washing.
Are Antibacterial Cleaning Products Necessary?
What kinds of chemicals kill germs, bacteria and viruses? Do you have to use harsh chemicals or antibacterial cleaners?
The discussion of anti-bacterial soaps and cleaning products does present some controversy. Anti-bacterial products kill germs on contact, however, the debate arises in that many people feel that the overuse of these products can create super germs with more and more resistance to antibodies.
Whether this fact is true or not is not 100% clear. However the CDC (Center for Disease Control) performed a study of 224 households using anti-bacterial soaps and found them to not be any healthier than people who don’t use anti-bacterial soap.
Regular soap releases germs from the skin so they can be washed down the sink or wiped up with a towel. Manufacturers would have you believe that anti-bacteria soaps are better than regular soap. However, the study clearly shows that the health levels of the soap and anti-bacterial soap users are the same.
Antibacterial or Not? How Do You Decide?
So if the health effects are the same how do you decide which is the best way to go? If you take the iatrogenic impact of the anti-bacterial soap (the possible creation of resistant super-germs), maybe regular soap is a safer choice.
It is clear that the antibacterial soaps or cleaning chemicals you may use kills the germs on contact. However, if you use a general purpose cleaner alongside proper cleaning techniques, you can remove germs and bacteria just as effectively.
What are Proper Cleaning Techniques?
By proper techniques I mean:
- You are using properly laundered cleaning cloths.
- You allow the cleaner or soap time to work
- You remove the suspended soils using a clean cloth and polish the surface dry.
The problem arises when cleaners are not using properly laundered cleaning materials, are over wetting them or are using unacceptable cleaning methods. In these cases, the soils and germs are not being removed; rather they are just being redistributed as the cleaner cleans.
You could argue that in the presence of unprofessional cleaners that using chemicals, which kill germs on contact, is best. However using poor cleaning techniques will significantly reduce if not eliminate the effects of any chemical used.
I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen otherwise professional looking cleaners using the same cleaning cloth in the washroom and in other areas of an office or home. I have also witnessed self-laundering of cleaning cloths. Self-laundering is where the cleaner rinses out the cloths under the tap and rings them out. If your cleaners are not walking out of the building with a bag of cloths to launder be suspicious of their skill set or training, unless the building has a laundry service.
Certainly you need to have an understanding of what chemicals need to be used to be sure you are properly killing germs. However, the techniques being used are far more likely to have a greater effect on the success of any cleaning program than the cleaning products themselves. Don’t underestimate the impact of proper cleaning technique if you are seeking to have a germ free or nearly germ-free environment.