Monthly Archives: August 2008

Anti-bacterial cleaners

I’ve been avoiding anti-bacterial products and am annoyed by the positive sounding benefits that these products are said to have. While their claim of killing 99.9% of bacteria sounds compelling at first, the thought of leaving behind .1% of bacteria that can’t be killed sounds rather scarey.

An interesting article from MedicineNet.com, researches swabbed for bacteria in 32 locations within 35 houses. Here’s the number of bacteria per square inch found:

  1. Toilet bowl: 3.2 million bacteria/square inch
  2. Kitchen drain: 567,845 bacteria/square inch
  3. Sponge or counter-wiping cloth: 134,630 bacteria/square inch
  4. Bathtub, near drain: 119,468 bacteria/square inch
  5. Kitchen sink, near drain: 17,964 bacteria/square inch
  6. Kitchen faucet handle: 13,227 bacteria/square inch
  7. Bathroom faucet handle: 6,267 bacteria/square inch
  8. Bathroom sink, near drain: 2,733 bacteria/square inch
  9. Pet food dish, inside rim: 2,110 bacteria/square inch
  10. Kitchen floor, in front of sink: 830 bacteria/square inch
  11. Toilet floor, in front of toilet: 764 bacteria/square inch
  12. Kitchen countertop: 488 bacteria/square inch
  13. Bathroom countertop: 452 bacteria/square inch
  14. Garbage bin: 411 bacteria/square inch
  15. Dish towel: 408 bacteria/square inch
  16. Toy: 345 bacteria/square inch
  17. Kitchen tabletop: 344 bacteria/square inch
  18. Home office phone or refrigerator door: 319 bacteria/square inch
  19. Toilet seat: 295 bacteria/square inch
  20. Bathroom light switch: 217 bacteria/square inch
  21. Microwave buttons: 214 bacteria/square inch
  22. Kitchen chopping board: 194 bacteria/square inch
  23. Child-training potty: 191 bacteria/square inch
  24. Infant changing mat and infant high chair: 190 bacteria/square inch
  25. Kitchen phone: 133 bacteria/square inch
  26. Bathroom door’s inside handle: 121 bacteria/square inch
  27. Toilet’s flush handle: 83 bacteria/square inch
  28. TV remote control: 70 bacteria/square inch
  29. Home office computer keyboard: 64 bacteria/square inch
  30. Home office computer mouse: 50 bacteria/square inch

I measured one of my kitchen countertop (#12 above). It’s 2’x6′. That equals 1728 square inches. If I multiply that by 488 (the number of bacteria per square inch) I get 843264 bacteria. Now, if I use a cleaner to kill 99.9% of them, I’m left with 8432 bacteria. That sounds like a lot of bacteria spread throughout my kitchen counter.  And as a reminder, this isn’t your regular garden variety bacteria. This is highly resistant super bacteria, able to withstand some pretty harsh chemicals. This bacteria doesn’t have to compete for food, housing or jobs from its fellow bacteria.

So I ask you, is it worth it or do you think it’s better to let them all live to fight it out with each other in their own little microscopic world?