Do We Need Antibacterial Cleaners?

As the debate continues, millions of people use antibacterial soaps and household cleaners every day, believing that their germ killing ability will keep their families healthier.  Could these same chemicals that fight germs also be hazardous to your health?  Many of these products contain the chemicals triclosan and triclocarban, which recent research has shown have potential to affect hormones (estrogen and testosterone) and possibly interfere with the nervous system.  Currently, there are no studies on the effects of exposure in infants, but reports show that it has been detected in human breast milk and urine.  Some germs are actually beneficial to our health which leads to another issue in the use of antibacterial cleaners – they kill the good germs too!  Yet, they leave the .1% that could cause us the most harm. Some experts worry that completely wiping out all traces of germs will throw off the healthy balance of bacteria in humans.

According to many studies, regular soap and water is enough to wash away dirt, bacteria, and viruses. Proper hand-washing doesn’t need the added benefit of a antibacterial cleaner, to thoroughly clean your hands. The same is true for your home. Regular cleaning with soaps will remove much of the harmful bacteria and viruses.  While washing with soap and water removes a lot by itself, proper use of antibacterial cleansers does further reduce the amount of bacteria, for a short span of time.  This can help in households where someone is ill.  Otherwise, proper hand-washing and house cleaning techniques along with regular cleaning with soap and water should be enough to keep your family healthy.

Hand Washing – Here’s How:

This step-by-step guide will tell you how to wash your hands effectively so you know that you are minimizing your risk of catching and spreading illnesses.  Antibacterial soaps have not been proven to be more effective than regular soap, so you decide what’s best for you and use what you like.

  1. Turn on water to a warm comfortable temperature.
  2. Use bar of soap or a dime sized squirt of liquid hand soap.
  3. Lather and rub hands together for at least 20 seconds (Sing the “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” song 3 times).
  4. Be sure to wash front and back of hands, between fingers and under nails.  Using a nail brush is not necessary.
  5. Rinse all soap off hands.
  6. Using two paper towels, dry hands completely.  Don’t reuse bathroom hand towels!
  7. Turn off faucet with paper towels, then discard towels in garbage can.

Natural Home Cleaning

Here are a few basic household ingredients and items you can use to clean your home. Vinegar, baking soda, and lemons all have natural cleaning powers that rival manufactured cleaning solutions. They are easy and safe to use, and won’t put a pinch on your budget.  They will keep your house clean and smelling fresh.  Vinegar naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner. I prefer the white and use it on my hardwood floors weekly.  Mix a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar and clean away!
Lemon juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. It’s juice can be mixed with vinegar and or baking soda to make cleaning pastes. Cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on the cut section. Use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains. Mix 1 cup olive oil with ½ cup lemon juice and you have a furniture polish for your hardwood furniture.  You can also use it for a natural skin brightener!

Baking soda can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial abrasive cleansers. Baking soda is great as a deodorizer – doesn’t everyone place a box in their refrigerator and the freezer!  Put it anywhere you need deodorizing action.  Other great natural cleaning ingredients include:  Cornstarch, Salt, castile soap and essential oils to add your favorite fragrance to the mix.

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