We are constantly bombarded with messages to rid ourselves and our homes of bacteria. Most of us can recall TV adverts where we’re told that well known cleaning products can kill 99.9% of all known germs! However more recent thinking would indicate that in the right place and in the right quantities bacteria are hugely beneficial and indeed essential to keeping us healthy.
It is true to say that our lives have improved with the introduction of a clean water supply and the advent of antibiotics, which have eliminated many disease causing bacteria. But have we taken this battle against bacteria too far? We are now being encouraged to completely sanitise our homes and bodies to make them “germ free”.
Some homes are now so sterile that we are no longer being exposed to the bacteria that help us develop and maintain a strong and healthy immune system. Studies have shown that children raised in such “sterile homes” are much more likely to develop autoimmune conditions, eczema or asthma.
There are also a number of other issues with antibacterial products that we use in the home.
A. They kill the good bacteria that normally inhabit our skin and which have a very beneficial role. The skin, in the absence of these, is not capable to fending for itself.
B. They upset the natural balance of bacteria allowing bad bacterial to become dominant.
C. They never kill ALL of the bacteria, resulting in some becoming resistant … this is when bad bacteria become a big problem.
What products should you opt for? As a rule of thumb the fewer ingredients a product has the better, and the more natural those ingredients, better still. A good old fashioned bar of soap made possibly using essential oils will do a great job at washing your hands after using the toilet or before preparing food.
Be very cautious about bringing any antibacterial products into your home. There are many alternatives on the shelves that will do just as good a job and in the long run will probably help you and your family get the balance right to live a happy bacteria filled life.