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tinyfaery's avatar

Question about antiseptics and soap?

Asked by tinyfaery (43051points) August 9th, 2008

Scenario 1: I am cleaning my earrings in hydrogen perozide. I put a little in a cup and put one set of earrings in. When I take them out, is that cup of hydrogen peroxide now contaminated? Doesn’t it kill the germs? If I put another set or earrings in the cup, will they not be sanitized?

Scenario 2: Someone just washed their dirty, germ infested hands with a bar of soap, maybe they even leave a dirt film on the soap. If I lather the soap, is the soap now clean, and germ free?

I have always considered these 2 things “self-cleaning”, but I could be wrong. Anybody know?

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13 Answers

shilolo's avatar

The answer to your question is that neither scenario leaves the object completely germ free. If you’ve ever seen the commercials for the antimicrobial soap, they say, “eliminates 99.9% of germs.” Sounds terrific, right? But, consider that there are millions to billions of bacteria on your hands or kitchen surface. If you kill 99.9% of 1 million bacteria, that still leaves 1000 bacteria (this is what is called a 3 log kill). In addition, there are bacteria that are fairly resistant to hydrogen peroxide or soap, so basically, you can’t really truly and completely sterilize objects with the tools you described.

tinyfaery's avatar

Huh! But it’s good enough for the purpose of washing my hands after I clean the litter box, or cleaning my earrings?

shilolo's avatar

Well, I never said washing your hands with soap and water was bad. In fact, its the most effective way of preventing self-inoculation with bugs, and also from preventing spread of bad bugs in hospitals. I’m just saying that it reduces, but does not eliminate the bacteria on your hands. You would need to do a full surgical scrub of your hands to feel confident that most if not all of the bugs were gone.

jrpowell's avatar

@shilolo :: thanks for that link. That was interesting.

syz's avatar

The NCSU School of Veterinary Medicine recently cultured all of their soap and soap dispensers and found that they are not bacteria free (they’re having a problem with nosocomial infections). Washing with soap and hot water for three minutes will reduce the numbers of bacteria – hopefully your immune system will protect you from the rest.

tinyfaery's avatar

3 minutes?! Who’s got that kind of time? Well, since I’m still alive, and have never had any type of major illness, I guess I’m doing something right.

jrpowell's avatar

Isn’t it good to be a little dirty outside of the bedroom? Flu shots give us a little taste so our bodies can build up a defense when the real thing comes storming in. It seems like having some germs floating around would be a good thing.

salamanda2's avatar

No, all bacteria would not be killed, but most will – quite enough that you are unlikely to be severely infected/affected, even if the only bacteria left are MSRA. Remember, as is being said already here, your body has defences against bacteria. The more you are exposed to bacteria, especially when young, the more your body will make antibodies (the defences) that will fight against future exposure to the bugs.

It is being found that children brought up in highly clean environments do not build up antibodies well, and so are less able to defeat infections that they come across. Grubbing around in the mud is good.

Obviously, putting muddy hands in your mouth is not a good idea, in my experience, because you are likely to pick up worms. Eating food that has gone off is not wise; not washing your hands (with soap and water) after the lavatory (toilet) is bad. That way, you can infect yourself with bacteria that live in your gut (like e. coli), which are safe there, but that can make you very sick if they are eaten.

Remember that soap is a natural bactericide, so hand washing kills the most annoying bacteria. But you do not need to be neurotic about things unless you know that you have been handling something that can pass bad infections to you – animals, birds, raw meat/fish.

In the end, remember what you were taught as a child/teenager – wash your hands after the toilet, before eating, after being outside, when you have a cold or are in contact with an ill person.

marinelife's avatar

Forget surgical scrubbing.There are germs around us. It is the natural order of things.

One of the worst things in the world we have done is hand sanitizers, anti-microbial soaps and cleaners. We are creating super bugs.

In scenario two, there are germs on the soap, but not enough to worry about.

In scenario one, I would dump the capful and pour another one.

Let’s leave the scrubs to shi who needs to take those precautions in an institution.

tinyfaery's avatar

@marina Thanks for the practical answer!

shilolo's avatar

@Marina. You misunderstood my statements completely. I said washing hands is good! I also said you cannot get rid of all the bacteria with a simple wash.

salamanda2's avatar

I’m currently reading about immuno-compromised ‘patients’ (another research).

The hospital advice pages say
wash your hands well and frequently, rinsing your hands clean afterwards. There is a suggestion that hexachlorodine is an efficient antibacterial/antiseptic.

Considering whether or not to chuck the hydrogen peroxide -
yes chuck it, it is not expensive and, that way, you will be sure that it is always at full strength.

Look up immuno-compromise or immunocompromise on Google to find more related information.

gooch's avatar

I might add that Dial soap is one of the best soaps for killing germs. Also some bacteria are good, like the ones that live in your digestive system. Without those guys you would be sick all the time.

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