Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Disinfectant Wipes Spread Superbugs

First came word that popular antibacterial hand soaps are not only unnecessary (old fashioned soap and water is the best way to keep germs from spreading) but the chemicals in them can harm your health and environment. Now a new study says instead of killing potentially dangerous infections, disinfectant wipes may actually spread drug-resistant and sometimes deadly bacteria.

The research, recently presented at the American Society of Microbiology's General Meeting in Boston, zeroed in on bacteria that included the dreaded "superbugs" -- methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. MRSA infections range from so-called "flesh eating" disfiguring skin infections to life-threatening and difficult to treat infections of the bloodstream, lungs and surgical wounds. The majority of cases are associated with hospitals, nursing homes or other health care facilities –- exactly the places where wipes are frequently used to try to prevent infections.

While the new study covered bacteria in hospitals, the information is also pertinent to the use of wipes in the home. You can't assume that by wiping down a cutting board, sink and counter top with a so-called disinfectant wipe that you have killed all potentially dangerous bacteria especially that associated with raw eggs and meat.

The best line of defense against infection? Wash your hands and surfaces with hot water and soap. Natural soaps and detergents with no added antibacterial agents zap the numbers of potentially troublesome bacteria adequately and quickly.

Read the entire article.


Anonymous said...

I agree 100% that soap and water is by far the most important and most suitable method for cleaning hands, and surfaces. I would also argue that the increasing extensive use of disinfectants in the domestic environments is actually causing more problems than it cures.

Bacteria are not only capable of developing resistance to antibiotics but also disinfectants and over the years the disinfectants and concentration of disinfectants in use has increased in strength to cope.

The other issue is that disinfectants are indiscriminate killing both harmful pathogens and the natural harmless flora that lives on each and every surface including human skin. This natural flora is their for a reason. It helps prevent harmful pathogens taking hold and spreading, and aids in the development of our immune systems.

The elimination of this flora leaves a surface open and unprotected for the first pathogen that lands on it be it harmful or not.

There is also some evidence that increased disinfection is having an effect on immune systems leaving them weaker and more open to attack.

However some surfaces do require disinfection. The study you quote did indeed find that disinfectant wipes were spreading bacteria but only when used incorrectly. These wipes are single use and have limited efficacy. They are designed to wipe a small area once and then be discarded. If used to wipe a large area or reused the disinfectant will have expired turning these into just simple wipes. But if used correctly they are an effective and efficient method of decontaminating surfaces.

sharingsunshine said...

Personally I see no reason why we need to use these type of products when there are natural essential oils from plants that have more antimicrobial action than the strongest of these disinfectants.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are frequently referred to as the "life force" of plants. Unlike fatty oils, these "essential" oils are volatile, highly concentrated, substances extracted from flowers, leaves, stems, roots, seeds, bark, resin or fruit rinds. The amount of essential oils found in these plants can be anywhere from 0.01 percent to 10 percent of the total. That's why tons of plant material are required for just a few hundred pounds of oil. These oils have potent antimicrobial factors, having 200-300 therapeutic constituents.

Beware of imitations. Essential oils cannot be substituted with synthetics. Only pure oils contain a full spectrum of compounds that cheap imitations simply cannot duplicate.

Read the rest of this article here:

Anonymous said...

What about using the portable hand cleaners after handling shopping carts and other items that have been touched and handled by stockers, shoppers, and children with runny noses? I carry these wipes in my purse and in my car. I have noticed that some Walmart stores have opened containters of the wipes for customers to use on the pushhandle of the shopping carts before touching them. Is there a natural solution for cleaning hands while in public when soap and hot water are not available?

sharingsunshine said...

I always carry Peppermint Essential Oil in my purse. It's use for so many things on a day-to-day basis. I put a drop in my palm and spread it around like people who use hand cream. It doesn't take more than that.

Lavender Essential Oil has been used as an antimicrobial also and for those who tend to be stressed all day long, it's a better choice and can be used in the same manner.

All essential oils have strong antimicrobial properties and they're safe.

Lemon Essential Oil is what I use in my kitchen and bath countertop cleaners and to share a little tip for when you eat out that's fun for the kids ...

Request lemon slices with your water. Then after squeezing the lemon into the water, rub it on your hands squeezing the peel to release its oils. A fun way to disinfect hands before eating.

You can make a spray if you'd rather carry around a small bottle of that while out and about. Here's a recipe for antimicrobial spray with essential oils.

Share This Post