Do Germ Killing Wipes Really Work?


  Do you ever do as I sometimes do when entering the grocery store, cleaning the shopping cart handle with a wipe from the container of germ killing wipes stationed beside the carts?  The idea is that you should use one or two of these wipes to clean off the handle of the cart before you use it.  This way while you are doing your shopping and pick your n   rub your eyes, you won’t be transferring stray germs from the handle of your once stray shopping cart.  If you have one or two of those small children, (I had three of them),  that love the salty taste of the cart handle, at least by using a wipe as you enter the store you should be lowering the chance of germ transmission, right?  Well, now comes news you may be wasting your time.

A study by researchers in Wales reveals some questions about how effective disinfectant or antibacterial wipes are in killing germs. I saw this story in two places, with one referring to the studied wipes as "disinfectant wipes", the other referring to them as "antibacterial wipes". I imagine that this will be big news later today or tomorrow so we should find out more then. Maybe it will be made more clear which wipes were examined in the study. I would expect that if both types were studied, the disinfectant type would have worked best.

I have written about antibiotic agents like the Triclosan in antibacterial soap in several previous posts. These products have been show many times to be no more effective than plain soap and water in killing germs. If this recent study proves that the germ killing wipes so common in homes, offices, and at the grocery cart pickup area of food stores also don’t work well, then this will be a new concern. We will have to watch the news stories over the next few days to see how this plays out.

It seems certain the germ killing wipes don’t contribute to the development of super -bugs in the same way that Triclosan products can, but if they really are not that effective in killing germs, why should we use them at all? Even though many people love the ease and convenience of the wipes in a can, I think their use should be limited to places where soap and water are not practical. Maybe the grocery store is one of those places, but the kitchen or bathroom counters of our homes can be kept clean with more practical, safer methods.

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Will Sig
1 Bob

Interesting stuff Will, you say we will learn more in the next little while? never used the wipes. In our foodcourt we just started supplying Purell through dispensers, it is a tremendous success, is purell effective?

Bobs last blog post..Bobaids Meteor Shower


2 Will

Hi Bob! I am not sure about the Purell liquid. I know someone who uses it instead of washing their hands. In that case I think it is a bad idea. However in the situation you describe, it is probably a good idea. I would think it works, but then what do I know! I thought the disinfectant wipes would work also.

On another note maybe you will get a kick out of this, I did. We U.S. hockey players are sometimes fond of pointing out the oddities of our hockey playing friends from north of the border. The below quote is from the end or a group email I received tonight.

“Game time is 5pm hope all can make it…
Except (name deleted) who I think said he had to give his dog a bath or something else Canadians do.”


3 Jennifer Robin

Well, that explains a lot. Sure am glad I don’t have little ones riding in carts anymore!

Jennifer Robins last blog post..Wordless Wednesday


4 andrea stealingsberg

i am doing a study about how well disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer really work for personal pleasure. Do you have any websites that i should go to for info. Also i think that yourr blog is super cool and interesting.


5 Will

Thanks Andrea! I don’t really have any specific sites that I remember from when I wrote this, but here are the results of a recent search I did. I think the key is to never use the “antibacterial” products that contain chemicals like Triclosan. But the ones that you see in the grocery stores usually have bleach in them. When my kids were little I would sometimes catch them with their mouths on the shopping cart handle. This was before stores started putting out the wipes. My kids all turned out OK though.


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