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  • MYTH: Use of disinfecting cleaners and hand sanitizers has lead to the creation of antibiotic resistant “super bugs”.

    FACT: There is no comparison between antibiotics and cleaning products with disinfectant/sanitizer claims.  Antibiotics are medicines intended to selectively attack pathogenic microbes infecting a living host (a person or animal) without harming the host.  As such antibiotics are very selective in how they recognize and attack pathogenic microbes.  The typical course of antibiotics runs for 7-10 days.  This relatively long time is necessary for eliminating the infection because of the highly selective nature of antibiotics.  In contrast cleaning products with disinfectant/sanitizer claims are intended to kill any microbes they contact, not just the pathogenic ones.  These products are required to work in a matter of minutes rather than days.  As such they are much more aggressive towards microbes and have multiple mechanisms for attacking and killing them.  This is an illustration of what scientists refer to as the “selectivity reactivity principle”.  In simple terms, the more selective something is, the less reactive it is – or, the more reactive something is the less selective it is.  In this case, the highly selective antibiotics are less reactive towards microbes and thus need longer time to be effective whereas the highly reactive biocidal cleaning products are not very selective, killing both pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes, and doing so in a short period of time.

    An antibiotic resistant microbe is one that has evolved or mutated such that the highly selective antibiotic is no longer effective at eliminating it.  The antibiotic resistant microbe is however still a microbe and susceptible to attack biocidal cleaning products.  This is not to say that a given cleaning product with disinfectant/sanitizer claims will be effective against all microbes.  Each product must state on the label the microorganisms against which it has been proven effective.