Germicidal Wipes Can Spread Bacteria
It's All in How You Swipe, Says Study Examining Antibacterial Products
Targeting Germs in the Classroom continued...
Researchers from Children's Hospital Boston conducted a randomized,
controlled trial at an Ohio elementary school in which the wipes and sanitizers
were used in some classrooms, but not in others.
For eight weeks, teachers in the intervention classrooms used the wipes to
disinfect each student's desk once a day after lunch, and the students were
told to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer several times a day. The classes
without hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes followed usual cleaning
procedures and hand hygiene practices.
There was no difference in the absentee rate due to respiratory illness
between the intervention and non-intervention classes over the course of the
study, but the extra sanitation did seem to reduce the incidence of GI
Twenty-four percent of students in the classes that did not use the wipes
and hand sanitizers were absent from school during the study because of
gastrointestinal illness, compared to 16% of students in the intervention
The study was funded by The Clorox Company, which manufactures the
disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer used by the researchers.
"Hand washing is really the best way to prevent the spread of infection,
but this study suggests that hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes can also
play a role," researcher Thomas J. Sandora, MD, MPH, tells WebMD. "This
is a relatively low cost and simple way for schools to help keep kids
Industry Responds to Studies
Soap and Detergent Association spokesman Brian Sansoni agrees.
"This research reinforces the commonsense message that proper and
regular use of cleaning and hygiene products enhances public health,"
Sansoni tells WebMD. "Soap and water are the gold standard, but when they
aren't available hand sanitizers are effective for killing germs."
Sansoni also agreed that proper use of disinfecting wipes in the hospital
setting is key to their effectiveness.
"(The Welsh) study shouldn't be perceived as saying that these products
aren't effective," he says. "But it is absolutely critical that they be