Why I worry about antibacterial wipes…

I may be preaching to the choir, but felt inspired to write about why we don’t need (and shouldn’t use) antibacterial wipes and hand gels a matter of course.

After watching a man at a local grocery store diligently wiping his hands and the shopping cart handle with a wet wipe, I took a moment to read the warnings on the plastic bucket placed within easy reach of the shopping carts. It was a little scary to say the least. Let me see if I can remember some of it… “Harmful to humans and animals, cause skin irritation, etc.”

The most common antibacterial actives in cleaning wipes and gels are called “quats” (short for quaternary ammonium compounds) and include such toxic chemicals as alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride and benzalkonium chloride. And as a side note, these chemicals aren’t bad because their names are difficult to pronounce or they don’t sound like garden plants; it’s the fact that they’re pesticides that could potentially encourage the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, aka ‘superbugs’!

In addition, the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, a international authority on asthma, considers these chemicals to be “asthmagens,” substances that can cause asthma in otherwise healthy people.  And to top it off, the “fresh” fragrance in many of these products often includes toxic ingredients like phthalates, which are known endocrine (hormone) disruptors.

What’s strange about all this is that we already were using an effective product to fight germs and avoid passing them on to other people… SOAP (and not the antibacterial versions)!

Soap and water is more effective that any sort of antibacterial wipe or gel because it’s able to penetrate dirt and grime better in order to access and neutralize the harmful bacteria…. and there are no side effects!

So what to do when we’re someplace without water and need to sanitize our hands, like an outdoor classroom? I’d suggest alcohol-based wipes and gels without artificial fragrance …. and then go home and wash your hands:)

So, there’s my rant… and my cheer to return to soap and water for BETTER HEALTH!

Until next time,


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