Safe At Home: Hot Water & Bleach, Yes. Bottled Water & Germicidals, No??
If a doctor decides to wash his germ-infested polyester tie at home after reading my previous post, hot water and bleach will help keep his family safe, suggests a study from the NIH's National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). In an interesting project that "may be the first to look at hygiene in the home," researchers studied ways to predict infectious disease symptoms in inner-city households. The NIH press release highlighted two findings:
1. Using hot water for white laundry (between 178-194 F.) reduced disease risk by about 30 percent. Bleach was also protective, in that those who reported using bleach had about one-fourth the infection rate of those who did not. [Incidentally, a Washington, DC-area physicist has just developed GLEE, a chlorine bleach-based product, which does not weaken cotton fibers as regular bleach does.]
2. Drinking only bottled water was associated with a two-fold risk of infection, although investigators recommend further study to determine whether the water was contaminated or whether the cause was more than one member drinking from the same bottle.
I also found another comment very interesting. NINR Director Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN, noted "Dr. [Elaine] Larson's research found no difference between products with and without antimicrobial ingredients as far as protection from disease is concerned. Dr. Larson has suggested that persistent use of antimicrobials might actually enhance the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria." [emphasis mine]
For those who obsessively follow all blogged links, an article describing this study appeared in the March 2004 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. Readers with less free time might find interesting the following comment from the ref'd article: "This innovative trial found no difference in episodes of infectious disease symptoms over one year in 228 inner-city households randomly assigned to use antibacterial household cleaning products or identically packaged products without antibacterial ingredients."
Translation? Plain old hot water, with soap or a bleach solution does a great job of killing household germs.