First, I'll touch base with my own opinions. I have never been a huge believer in the frequent use of antibiotics, except for treating serious illnesses. Nor have I had a love for antibacterial products. I wasn't a mother that rushed her little ones to the doctor at the first sign of a runny nose. Nor do I do the same with my animals. I am the resident farm vet, except for extreme cases (such as a needed c-section). I found that both of my children were, and my animals are, much healthier with a less frequent use of antibiotics. However, I do think antibiotics are very much needed, when prescribed properly.
It is said that Americans spend approximately one million dollars a year on antibacterial soaps and cleaning agents. The benefit of these products are that they can wipe out bad bacteria on contact, however, they do not kill viruses, and they do not prevent all infectious illnesses.
With the antibacterial product debate, as with many studies, due to variables in the testing environment, the results are often not conclusive. Some of the debate evolves around the theory that antibacterial products wipe out both the good and bad bacteria. Other studies indicate that bad bacteria have become stronger by the overuse of antibiotics, drugs, and antibacterial products.
Caution must be taken when using antibacterial products such as dish detergent and cleaning agents. A antibacterial dish detergent will help kill bacteria on contact, but it does not prevent growth once bacteria touches the washed dishes (by unclean hands or surfaces). When using antibacterial cleaning agents, the instructions need to be read. Surprisingly, some of the cleaning products may need to be left on the surface for a length of time (to kill the bacteria) before wiping the product from the treated surface. As many of us probably have, I normally spray and wipe, without a second thought given to reading the instructions on the bottle!
It is also said when antibacterial products enter waste water that is to be treated, the treatment becomes more difficult because the good bacteria that is needed to break down the bad bacteria can be killed by the run off from antibacterial products. I would imagine this would not be good for a septic system as well. It has also been said that marine animals may suffer from antibacterial product run off as well.
This was interesting reading for the day. Not surprising, yet very informative. My overall conclusion is, a bar of soap, non-antibacterial, used to wash hands frequently, results in ridding the hands of surface viruses and bacteria. The "uglies" are sent down the drain, and the environment is much safer. Why mess with the doubt?