Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Killing Germs Can Make You Sick

If you were to use the restroom at my house you might be surprised at your choice for hand washing.
No hand soap dispenser. No bar of anti-bacteria soap. 
Just a plain handmade looking bar of soap with no logo carved in it.
Would you feel safe?
A few months ago you would have found a nice shiny bottle of anti-bacterial soap, some hand sanitizer and
for good measure a bar of soap with some words that sound like Vial inscribed in it. Just for added safety 
there would be a can of Lysol somewhere too. Even though we were 'green' and natural , I assumed I was in the trenches in the line of defense on the war of killing germs. I assumed that if I could get rid of the germs then my green/natural lifestyle would some how be safer. I was using tree oil in my cleaners and vinegar. 
But I wanted to ensure the germs were gone. 
Then one day an article caught my eye. Was my soap safe?  What do you mean SAFE? It is SOAP for crying out loud. It was anti-bacterial SOAP, of course it was safe. I started to research, read and much to my dismay the very thing I was doing to keep my family safe and clean, was actually contributing to a bigger problem with their health. I never questioned what made the soap anti-bacterial. I never questioned it. I should have.

What makes it effective?
Triclosan and Triclocarban are the two most common germ fighting ingredients found in not only your hand soap but mouth wash, tooth paste and hand sanitizer to name a few. Do they work? No. Many studies show and even the FDA concludes that they work no better than regular soap and water. So, they don't help but does that make them harmful? Actually, yes. See, Triclosan and Triclocarban are used in hospitals to scrub patients to stop the spread of bacteria and germs. It works really well at that job. But just like we are concerned about our bodies being immune to antibiotics in meats, dairy and prescriptions, we should be concerned with them in our personal cleaners as well. The danger is it could be making us susceptible to hardened strains of bacteria, making it harder and harder for us to fight off super bugs. And sadly making the prescriptions we need to work in those cases effectively useless.

We need to get rid of germs, right? Wrong. 
Most germs are not bad for you and in fact having germs can be helpful to you in your health. See, when we "kill" germs we are not really killing them all. What we are doing is fact killing the weaker strands of germs. Leaving the hardened super germs and no low level germs that actually help strengthen your immune system. So in effect our efforts to make us germ free has in fact made us more susceptible to illness and weakened our immune systems. If you think about how one treats allergies naturally you know this to be true. One of the most common ways that doctors tell seasonal allergy sufferers to treat their allergy is to add local honey to their diet. Ours did. Is it because there is a magic cure in honey? No. But it does contain the allergens in low levels that is making you miserable. Then what happens is you build up an immunity to that allergen. It is low levels, not enough to trigger an attack but enough to help your body learning to resist the larger amounts that send us sneezing. This is the same principle with germs. I am not saying don't have good hygiene. I am however saying, washing with regular soap and water is enough and will keep you just as safe if not more so then the products that fill your cupboards.

What do we use instead?
For your hands and body, just plain old soap. And the most basic naturalist form of soap will do.
You don't want your soap to contain any of the following :Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Propylene Glycol (Antifreeze), Dioxane or Dioxin. Those are harmful chemicals and not needed to get you clean. You want a very pure soap and if it is a good soap, it really won't lather much.
The lather comes from some of those chemicals, not from soap in it's pure form.
To sanitize your home you can not get anymore basic that vinegar. Make sure your vinegar is a plant based vinegar though, not a petroleum based one. Vinegar is an effective disinfectant, killing 99% of bacteria, 80% of mold and 80% of viruses.

Common Sense, not chemicals. 
Cleaning yourself and your home does not have to be a higher science.
It requires common sense, some good plant based ingredients and that is all.
Regardless of what major manufacture companies try to tell you.
Even the FDA agrees. And trust me when I say that is probably the only time
me and the FDA is on the same side of an argument.
The thought is if these cleaners do no better than traditional soap and water, then why risk it?


Anonymous said...

I agree - the more you are exposed to, the better you are able to fight off infection. It's ok to wash with soap and water, but anti bacterial soaps are just a waste of money.

Chele said...

I agree! And who doesn't need to save money? :)

Brandi Lee said...

Stopping by from Frugal days, sustainable ways linky party...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! I am a microbiologist and I have a a war against anti-bacterial soaps and hand washes. They have their place (hospitals, laboratories, etc.), but mostly we are just making bacteria even MORE resistant to things that used to kill them.

If no bacteria existed, we wouldn't either! We depend on them to help break down foods in our bodies and protect our skin.

Great post!

Elaine said...

Interesting post! We stopped using antibacterial soap a while back. At least I did:) DH still uses the soap that rhymes with mile..... Thanks for sharing and I'm so glad I found you!

Chele said...

So many people don't realize they are doing more harm than good. Thanks for stopping by & commenting. :)

Chele said...

So glad you found us too! :)

michelle said...

I had wondered why the mold in the grout in my bathroom just washed away when using the Dawn and vinagar solution and why when things had dried after cleaning all grout was as clean as when I used to use bleach! I had no idea vinagar killed mold.

Chele said...

Next time just warm up the plain vinegar and try it without the Dawn. It may just work as well!

Sarah @ Natures Nurture said...

Excellent post, Chele! Very informative and unfortunately, not many people know this. Too many still believe that all of the anti-bacterial stuff on the market is actually helping, when in fact it's doing more harm than good. Thanks for sharing at Tiny Tip Tuesday!

P.S. I just noticed you have my button on your sidebar! Thanks so much :) I'd love to return the favor if/when you make yourself a button ;)

Chele said...

I have to learn how to make one first! :) LOL And thank you for hosting!

we are bound together said...

I've been staying away for "anti-bacterial" products and most cleaning products for a long time now. The more natural the better. Simple soaps (homemade if possible - though not by me!), and mininal cleaning products (I love my microfiber cloths, and I only need to use baking soda if things are really grimmy), are the way to go!

Chele said...

Making soap is on my list, thought admittedly the list is REALLY long. LOL Right now I buy the most natural soap I can find, which is handmade from goat milk from a local lady. :)