A reader this morning said they saw in yesterday’s Parade Magazine that using bar soap at your kitchen and bath sinks was not a good idea. The reasoning was that wet bars of soap provide a good living and breeding environment for germs to lie in wait until the next person comes along to wash their hands. This reader said that this was one of the reasons they use the antibacterial soap, the fear that germs would remain on bars of regular soap, or even on the containers of non-antibacterial pump soap. This caught my attention not just because of the concern of the woman sending the email, and the article I recently wrote on this, but because I have a little bit of an interesting history with Parade Magazine.
Before I get to the heart of the question, I want to address one other concern this reader had. She stated that she was hesitant to comment and admit to still using antibacterial soap, because she did not want to “be attacked” by other readers. Do not let a concern like this limit your comments. I read all comments and will make sure the conversation is always civil. I view comments as being very helpful to both myself and other readers, so I want to make sure everyone always feels welcome to participate. This site is about information, not generating controversy for the sake of ratings. So have no concerns and post away! Now back to the question.
I believe all the concern about “germs” is a bit overstated these days. In fact, there is some evidence that children who grow up in too clean an environment can actually have more colds and other health issues than children who are always “playing in the dirt”. My kids have been very healthy so far and I could show you pictures of them when they were young and dirty from play that might make you wonder about their parents! 😉
A look at yesterday’s Parade found a short question and answer relating to this in the “Ask Marilyn” column. Her answer said if you do like to use bar soap, it is recommended that you dry the bar and soap dish after each use. Good luck with that! The easier solution, which she also suggested, is to use pump dispensers, not bars of soap at your sinks, thus avoiding the possible concern of contaminated soap. Unfortunately, Marilyn did not take advantage of the reader’s mention of antibacterial soap to dispel the myth that it is necessary to kill germs and clean your hands. I wish she had as she has a big audience of readers, but so be it. Maybe Marilyn herself uses antibacterial soap? Just be sure to ban it from your household by using regular, not antibacterial soap in those pump dispensers.
We are getting a little over concerned about this whole idea of living a germ-free life. Now I see that there are antibacterial wipes being sold. What’s next – antibacterial toothpaste??? Oh, that’s right, already exists ! Let’s just wash our hands, kitchen counters, dishes, clothes, etc. with the gentlest possible soap or cleaner and we should be fine. Soaps and cleaners with antibiotics, chlorine or other harsh chemicals are not necessary. Most people do not need to use any antibacterial soap at all in their home. Studies show it does not seem to work any better than the most environmentally friendly soaps to kill germs. Remember that every chemical we introduce into our lives eventually finds its way into our bodies and the bodies of our children.