by Dr. Alan Inglis
In a month or so, many of us will begin the annual ritual of spring cleaning. For those of you living in the snow belt, like me, I bet you can't wait.
But if you think you're doing a healthy thing wiping down your counters, doorknobs and appliances with those antibacterial wipes, research shows you need to reconsider.
The ongoing debate has been whether or not antibacterial wipes even do what they claim, which is to actually kill bacteria. But the real problem may lie in how they're being used.
A study showed that the way hospital staffs are currently using wipes could in effect be spreading germs rather than the heading-off of infections. It seems that continuously wiping a surface with the same wipe was actually found to spread the bacteria.
Researchers observed hospital workers using a wipe repeatedly-and it didn't take much to render it ineffective. All it takes is a swipe down a bed rail, the surface of a monitor and a bedside table, and that's how quickly the wipe has been overused. It has become the paper version of a Typhoid Mary.
When the researchers replicated what they observed back in the lab-using strains of staph as their germ of choice (and one that's rampant in hospitals) - they found that more bacteria was relocated than was disabled.
The researchers are recommending as a best practice that only one wipe be used per surface.
So the take-away for you would be to do the same thing in your own home. For example, wipe down your kitchen counter, then discard that wipe. When you move on to your faucet handles, use a fresh wipe-and then discard it.
You get the idea. But if you're interested in not having to go through a hundred wipes in a cleaning spree, try making your own "anti-bacterial." Get an empty spray bottle and mix one-part white vinegar to one-part water. Spray your surfaces, then wipe down with a rag. That way, all you have to do is wash the rag and it's kinder to the environment by making a lot less trash.