Welcome! We regret to inform you that the Injury Board National News Desk has been discontinued. Feel free to browse around and enjoy our previously published articles, or visit The Injury Blog Network for the latest in personal injury news.

Disinfectant Wipes May Spread Germs

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, June 03, 2008 10:47 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family, In The Workplace
Tags: Safe Home 101, Bacteria, Antibiotics, Antibacterials, Hand Washing, Disinfectants

Reusing a disinfectant wipe may actually be spreading harmful bacteria, researchers reveal.

SAFE HOME 101 - Disinfectant Wipes

June is Home Safety Month and Injuryboard will run a series of stories in June highlighting safety and injury prevention inside the home.



IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStock Photo/ cleaning with wipe/ author: RedBarnStudio


The commercials would have you believe that with just a wipe, you can clean all surfaces well enough to eat off of them.  But a new study is putting antibacterial products into perspective. 

A study was presented today at the American Society of Microbiology’s General Meeting in Boston by researchers from the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University.

They found use of antibacterial wipes in hospitals, schools, and your bathroom might actually be spreading rather than killing bacteria, and may be contributing to antibacterial resistance.

First- they contaminated an area with staph bacteria to reproduce a germy hospital setting. Staphylococcus aureus- is known as MRSA when it is resistant to antibiotics.  The super-bug is found in hospital settings and can cause infections in the blood stream, around surgical sites and lungs, and can be life-threatening.

They tested the wipes and compared them to the cleaning power of traditional disinfectants, detergents and natural antimicrobials from plants.

What they found was natural antimicrobial wipes did the best job removing bacteria and disinfectants did the best job destroying bacteria.

But if you happen to reuse the dirty wipes in another area, you would essentially be transporting bacteria to another location.  Bacteria from a toilet seat would be transferred to a sink on a disinfectant wipe, undermining why you might use a wipe in the first place.  

Many hospital personnel use a single wipe to clean up around a bed, monitors and tables.

“Use it and lose it,” should be the motto especially in the bathroom and kitchen, conclude researchers.

“We need to give guidance to the staff on how to use the wipes because we found there is a possibility of cross transfer,” said Garath Williams to Reuters. Williams is the microbiologist who authored the study.

Antibacterials are divided into two groups- one that destroys bacteria and then evaporates such as alcohol, chlorine, peroxides and aldehydes.

The other group leaves a longer lasting residue and include the antimicrobial triclosan (trade name Microban), triclocarban and banzalkonium chloride. Triclosan has been found to bond with surfaces it comes into contact with such as bedding, plastic, cutting boards and high chairs, according to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics.

The Alliance reports that 76 percent of liquid soaps in the U.S. contain triclosan and about 30 percent contain triclocarban.  Triclosan has been found in public water, sewage treatment plants, and breast milk and triclosan-resistant bacteria have been found to be resistant to several antibiotics.

As far as environmental concerns, triclosan has been found to be an endocrine disruptor and the UK has considered phasing it out.

Researchers conclude that sterilization is not necessary in a home and that the human body can withstand a certain number of bacteria. The rest can be cleaned with hot, soapy water.  

In a hospital setting, it is the lack of hand washing that is most likely to spread contamination.  Tell your doctor or nurse you will wait while they take the time to wash their hands with soap and water.

Safe Home -101

June is a month to concentrate on safety around your home, according to the Home Safety Council, founded by Lowe’s Home Improvement and the National Safety Council, whose members come from more than 18,000 companies. Both projects are interested in reducing and preventing accidental injuries and deaths at home.

IB is calling it Safe Home – 101.  The latest research on disinfectant wipes can apply to the kitchen or bathroom.  More stories will follow taking you through a room-by-room look at safety and injury prevention, throughout the month of June. #

1 Comment

Posted by Medifix
Monday, June 09, 2008 5:06 AM EST

Interesting reading but with scary consequence.

This makes us take a closer look at alcohol wipes used in hospitals and clinics to clean the skin of patients. The nurses and doctors use one wipe to clean multiple areas of skin before they introduce needle through veins for blood test or introduce a cannula.

We have informed health authorities and publishing articles warning about the about inadequate skin preparation and association of multiple punctures produced by staff to take blood or introduce cannula.

Nurses & doctors have not been educated about how to prepare skin before injecting needle through the skin. When we don’t have antibiotics to treat, we must take care not to introduce these bugs. Please visit our website and get educated to protect yourself or others.

Comments for this article are closed.

About the National News Desk

Our mission is to seek the complete truth and provide a full and fair account of the events and issues that surround personal safety, accident prevention, and injury recovery.  We are committed to serving the public with honesty and integrity in these efforts.

Hurt in an accident? Contact an Injury Board member

Subscribe to Blog Updates

Enter your email address if you would like to receive email notifications when comments are made on this post.

Email address


RSS Feed

Add the National News Desk to your favorite RSS reader

Add to Google Reader Add to myYahoo Add to myMSN Add to Bloglines Add to Newsgator Add to Netvibes Add to Pageflakes