Antibacterial hand wipes serve many purposes. We love them during cold and flu season. They are an excellent tool for staying healthy throughout the winter. We always include them in our travel items because they can be used to wipe down surfaces. However, they aren’t great for hands.
We live in a time when antibacterial products are lauded for health benefits. But, while that may be true in some cases, not all products have the same uses. Antibacterial wipes are great for spot cleaning but inadequate for large surfaces. They aren’t impactful enough for big jobs and can end up spreading germs around instead of killing them. They also can contain harmful chemicals that you shouldn’t use on countertops because they might come in contact with food. But one place antibacterial wipes cannot help you, that may come as a surprise, is your hands.
“Never clean your hands with antibacterial wipes before or while eating, because the wipes leave a residue on the skin. Plus, not all the microbes and bacteria will wipe away,” said Lily Cameron, a cleaning and organizing professional and supervisor at Fantastic Services. “The alcohol may irritate the skin, too. Instead, stop the spread of germs by washing your hands with soap and warm water.”
Many brands of antibacterial wipes even tell the users to wash their hands immediately after using them. The chemicals can be harmful to your skin. “Your skin is very porous,” said Dr. David Ramaley of Seattle Natural Health. “So it tends to absorb a lot of those chemicals and it could start creating a very strong allergy response in your body and also producing some asthma type symptoms as well.”
Triclosan, banned from soap, is still found in many wipes — despite being linked to “super bugs.” Additionally, it has been linked to problems with human fertility, development, the immune system, the thyroid and asthma. Other chemicals in wipes can cause skin irritation, watery eyes, itchy mouth and nose, sneezing and breathing problems.
Moreover, the wipes kill beneficial bacteria as well as harmful things. Whenever possible, use hot soap and water to clean yourself. Of course, that’s not always an option, but reading warning labels can help you determine if something is unsafe.
Dedicated hand wipes — ones that were made specifically for the purpose of washing hands when you’re away from water — are a completely different beast and are great when you are on the go. But, in general, leave antibacterial wipes for small surfaces and doorknobs and stick to washing your hands. Hopefully, this tip helps you stay healthy this winter!