When you wipe a surface with an antibacterial wipe, you see a gratifying smudge of grime on the white rag. What you don’t see is what’s left behind – chemicals. “The major reason that I believe that people should not use antibacterial wipes as an everyday go-to wipe is that we are seeing an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” says chemist, John Manolas. “Some of the blame for this phenomenon goes to antibacterial soaps and wipes. Most surfaces will probably be equally germ-free after regular cleaning with soap and water or other household cleaners,” he says. Manolas also stresses that parents shouldn’t use the wipes on children’s toys because kids are likely to put the toys in their mouths.
Anything that absorbs moisture
To be effective, antibacterial solutions often need to sit for several minutes to kill bacteria. If the surface is soft – foam or carpet, for example – it won’t stay wet long enough to be truly effective. If you have to use multiple wipes to achieve the result, the moisture could damage the surface. If you want to know how long your surfaces must be wet to be sterilised, look at the bottle, says Jason Courtney, owner of the Office Pride. “Every kind of wipe has a ‘kill claim’ on the back, which indicates what it will kill in a certain amount of time. In a lab, wipes are tested for everything from hepatitis B to influenza to staphylococcus,” he says. “If the wipe kills the germ, it can be listed on the container. How long the surface must remain wet to kill the germ is spelled out on the container, too.”
If you think a swipe of an antibacterial wipe on a kitchen counter that just had raw chicken is enough to keep your family safe, think again. “Kitchen counters are hot spots for germs and bacteria, and cleaning them using only antibacterial wipes isn’t nearly enough,” says cleaning and organising professional, Lily Cameron. Instead, Cameron says, when you need to disinfect your counters, use soapy hot water and a sponge.