A new study shows the use of antibacterial products, such as soaps, household cleaners and laundry detergents, do not reduce the risk of infectious disease symptoms in the homes of healthy individuals.
Investigators studied 224 households in New York with at least one preschool-age child living in the house. One group was given household cleaning and personal hygiene products that contained antibacterial ingredients and the second group was given identical-looking products that did not have antibacterial ingredients. Researchers asked about infectious disease symptoms such as runny nose, fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, skin rashes, red eyes and vomiting. They found no significant difference in the frequency of these symptoms between the two groups.
Researchers say they expected this finding because viruses, not bacteria, account for most household infections. They say their conclusion does not rule out the potential contribution that these products have to reduce bacterial disease symptoms in the home.
Researchers from the National Center for Infectious Diseases in Atlanta say the best way to prevent the spread of infections that are transmitted through direct and indirect contact and by air is to cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. In addition, wash hands frequently.
Thus researchers conclude that the decision to use antibacterial products to prevent disease transmission depends on the specific location (home, work, school, etc.) and whether there are risks.