The Science of Getting Your Hands Clean
Here’s the big question: which product cleans your hands better – plain soap or antibacterial soap? First of all, the labels on plain soap may not say “antibacterial”, but they eliminate germs just as well as those soaps that are antibacterial – sometimes even better than. In fact, the FDA even stated that antibacterial soaps show no evidence that they prevent infections more effectively than plain soaps.
Antibacterial soaps are made with chemicals that are designed to kill bacteria, but in reality they do not clean hands any better than plain soap and water. The problem with the antibacterial chemicals is that they can stay on our hands after we’ve finished washing, which can potentially lead to the evolution of germs. If these new antibacterial chemicals co-mingle with bacteria long enough, the fear is that they will evolve and develop a resistance to antibiotics, becoming impossible to kill. Why take the risk when soap and water works just as well?
No matter which soap you use, it is important to use it properly. To be the most effective, you should wash your hands for 15-30 seconds (the time it takes you to sing Happy Birthday to You once – twice through) with soap and warm – not hot – water. And don’t forget to dry thoroughly! Wet hands can transfer germs easier than dry ones.