Convenience trumps cleanliness, Anti bacterial surface wipes are great aren’t they, wipe around the dirt and you are done, more time for Jeremy Kyle and Lorraine, well, you may want to hold off on that.
It turns out that you may not be using them correctly, in a study made by Professor John Oxford. Professor of Virology at Queen Mary University London, the report released and published today makes for interesting and horrifying reading.
Below, I have copied the relevant parts published in todays newspaper.
Antibacterial wet wipes are ubiquitous – not only are they easy to carry around in your pocket or handbag, they are used to wipe children’s hands, clean kitchen counters and, most importantly, sterilise equipment and surfaces in hospitals.
Recently, however, researchers in Wales found that the use of wipes in hospitals may actually be spreading deadly bacteria, including MRSA. In a laboratory study, researchers at Cardiff University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science tested seven commonly used wipes and found their ability to remove MRSA, Clostridium difficile and Acinetobacter after a ten-second swipe was patchy.
In fact, they found that the wipes even moved bacteria to other surfaces.
I was surprised and concerned by these results: as far as I know, this has not been shown in a hospital setting, so we cannot say for sure it is being mirrored in real life. Nevertheless, it is still worrying because hospital-grade wet wipes are supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Different wipes contain different chemicals that kill microbes, including bacteria and viruses, in a variety of ways. Typically, alcohol is the main chemical in wet wipes and it kills bacteria by denaturing (or breaking down) the structure of the proteins in the bugs’ cells. Wipes can also contain bleach, which promotes oxidation in the cells, leading to their death.
Wipes that contain old-fashioned soap work, too, because soap is antibacterial, helping to destroy fats in the cell walls of bacteria and viruses, causing them to break down. In fact, soap may be low-tech, but it can destroy even the most deadly viruses; ebola is quickly destroyed this way, for example.
How many times do you use the same wipe to clean other surfaces as well? do you use a fresh wipe for each new surface?
Wipes should be used for no more than five swipes before they are discarded and certainly you need at least one for each square metre of surface area.
The type of wipe also matters: wipes should contain at least 40 per cent alcohol to be effective at killing microbes, for example; some may contain less than is needed. And if the wipe is too dry, possibly because it has been badly stored or overused, then it should be discarded because the active ingredient has evaporated or been used up.
For washing skin, especially hands, you should always use Soap and Hot water, I know a wipe is convenient to use on “little fingers” but a wipe leaves a residue on the skin and not all the microbes are cleaned away. Wipes containing alcohol may also irritate the skin.