For a long time I have chuckled every time I saw a bottle of hand sanitizer. For a while, everywhere you looked, you saw a bottle of it… On desks, in work cubicles, on coffee tables, and laying on the front seat of half of the cars you saw.
I think I decided that the height of the paranoia was when the entrance to every supermarket in the country started putting up sanitizing wipe dispensers so you could wipe the handle on your shopping cart before you went grocery shopping.
Yes… I did say paranoia. I firmly believe that if you look on the label of most hand sanitizers you will find that the prime ingredient is paranoia. The entire world seems to be afraid of a little bit of dirt, these days. I also believe that that fear of dirt plays a large part in the growing percentage of our children that either develop allergies or get sick at the drop of a hat. Their bodies are so protected from any little bug that when one sneaks through what should have been a minor cold becomes a trip to the doctor.
A little dirt never hurt anyone… Indeed, a little dirt helps strengthen the immune system. For your body to effectively fight a bug. It has to, first, recognize a bug and second, have some practice at fighting it.
Well, as it turns out, I was right. Hand sanitizers, and other bacterial soaps, do not help you stay cleaner and healthier. Instead, they can actually make you more susceptible to illness.
On Monday, the FDA said that it was requiring soap manufacturers to either demonstrate the substances were safe (antibacterial agents) or to remove them from products, because there is mounting evidence that they do more harm than good.
Besides making you “too clean” as I mentioned above, it turns out that antimicrobial chemicals risk scrambling hormones in children and promote drug-resistant infections. Studies on animals showed the two antimicrobial agents used in soaps, triclosan in liquid soaps and triclocarban in bar soaps, disrupt the normal development of the reproductive system and metabolism.
In recent years, manufacturers have started adding those two chemicals to a wide range of products including (but not limited to) mouth wash, laundry detergent, fabrics, and baby pacifiers, along with liquid in bar soaps.
In other words, if you try to stay clean (Shower? Wash hands? Brush teeth? Wear clean clothes? You know…basic things like that…LOL), and if you believe the cleaner manufacturing industry PR and advertising and aren’t careful about what personal and household cleaners you buy, you probably come in contact with these chemicals several times a day.
As an additional piece of clean information”, studies have shown that your mother had one thing wrong. To stay clean or clean things around your home (think washing clothes) you can save on energy. While water temperature definitely can make a difference in removing the “look” of something being dirty, like stains on clothes, for cleanliness purposes it does not matter what temperature you set your clothes washer, dishwasher, or shower…all temperatures used in household cleaning clean equally.
New York Times article on anti-bacterial cleaner safety.