Look around you. How many products in your house say kills 99.9% of all known germs? Does that feel good to you? I am really upset by those labels and I’ll share with you why that is.
Did you know that 99.9% also includes the beneficial ones which keep us healthy? These bacteria are called commensal. They live with us, on us and are there to protect us. Our skin requires a strong colony of specific commensal bacterium to remain in protective balance. Every time you use antibacterial agents, you wipe this away, leaving your skin potentially vulnerable to colonisation with other, possibly less ‘friendly’ bacterium.
WASH YOUR HANDS: We’re being advised to clean our hands every where we go. This is good practice. Sanitising agents are not.
SANITISERS: Anything with less than 60% alcohol will slow the growth of some tougher microbes but not kill them. 60-90% is the best at getting rid of them but there there’s the additional issue of alcohol drying out the skin on the hands which will make it less supple and more prone to cracking. Cracked skin is a much poorer defence making us vulnerable to bacteria invading our skin altogether. Doesn’t sound good, does it?
So, what should we do instead? It has been shown that plain old bars of soap and hot water do the job the best. It gets your hands the cleanest and doesn’t flood the waterways with antibacterial agents which contribute to bacterial resistance.
SOAP: Soap on the other hand, is good at destroying the membranes of the microbes which kills them. The friction of hand washing, combined with the addition of running water all help remove grease and grime as well as unwanted bacteria.
So, wash your hands as soon as you get home. Wash your hands before you eat. Wash your hands after you visit the loo. Most of this advice is not new. It’s good, normal hygiene practise.
DRY SKIN? Ultimately, all this additional hand washing is not great for the skin on our hands. In order to keep my skin supple and free from chapping, I make a beautiful, thick, nutritive and deeply penetrating ‘Skin Salve-ation’ in small heart shapes or in wooden trinket pots. I carry it and use it all the time but the best thing is to put it on thickly late evening and allow it to all penetrate through the night. BUY IT HERE
BREAD EXPERIMENT: Have you seen this experiment with school children and slices of bread? Whether or not it is a great experiment, what it shows is that using sanitiser doesn’t actually clean your hands all that well. And, if you use an anti-BACTERIAL one, it won’t be effective on viruses and fungi (dependent on level of alcohol present). [What is also shows is that sliced bread which hasn’t been wiped on grubby little fingers doesn’t go mouldy after a week in a sealed bag… hmmm, not sure that’s all that great either, TBH! My fresh, homemade bread without preservative beyond a little salt would be getting mouldy by then!]
CLOTHES: Do you really need your normal, everyday clothes free from bacteria? Do you think that using antibacterial agents in your washing machine is going to make much difference to your clothes? I would anticipate that once hung, these damp clothes are unlikely to remain bacteria free. But, even if they do get bacteria on them, are those bacteria actually *harmful to us? If they’re in the environment around us, they really shouldn’t be. Therefore, once again, if we choose those wash powders, what we are doing is polluting the waterways with antibacterial agents for no apparent benefit.
Like in a previous article, I wrote about my concerns about what we will do when we no longer have antibiotics to protect us from nasty infections. I have genuine fears as we have continually over-used them on everything regardless of what i would consider to be actual need. For my money, I would far rather use herbs to treat minor infections (at which they can be so effective), avoid the gut biome destruction and resultant thrush/windy gut etc that comes with it. I successfully treat cystitis, UTIs, coughs, colds and other bacterial sequelae of viral infections all the time.
If you are concerned about a minor infection, use of antibiotics, talk to me about my Mini Consultation where we discuss a current, acute medical concern after which I prescribe a short course of herbs to treat the condition.
*NOTE: This does not apply to eg medical uniforms where potential contamination with infectious substances is possible. But, soap and a hot wash should also sort that out.
**Photo is a screen snip from this article: https://www.matconlist.com/2019/12/school-science-experiments-for-kids-bread-experiment.html