Antibacterial wet wipes are no better than old-fashioned methods at killing kitchen germs, research suggests.
In many households, they have replaced cloths and scouring pads. But a scientist claims the wipes – which cause harm to marine life – are no better than soap.
Dr Clare Lanyon said consumers may be wasting their money on them because bugs can come back to full strength in hours.
If just one cell of a household germ is left on a worktop, it can multiply in 20 minutes.
The biomedical scientist found household soap was far better at breaking down the cell walls of household germs.
She said certain food such as raw meat needed special attention, adding: ‘Spend your time cleaning up after food that’s known to be high risk. But on a Sunday, if your kitchen is clean, don’t be cracking out the antibacterials and wiping it down because it’s an absolutely redundant exercise.
‘The minute you walk around the kitchen you’re shedding bacteria and fungi into the area again and it’s just recolonising.’
Dr Lanyon said a patch of household bacteria could return to its original mass if just one cell was left behind by a cleaning wipe. Some bacteria divide every 20 minutes, meaning one cell can multiply into a million in less than seven hours.
She did an experiment for the BBC2 TV show Trust Me, I’m A Doctor, which found ‘dramatic growth’ of microbes within 12 hours after a regular kitchen surface was cleaned with wipes. Dr Lanyon, from Northumbria University in Newcastle, said: ‘The point of the show is you don’t need to be so fastidious in cleaning your house from top to bottom because you can’t remove all bacteria, and nor would we want to.
‘Exposing ourselves to everyday pathogens is good in keeping the immune system healthy and strong. The research shows you can quite quickly re-establish bacteria that we have in our homes anyway.
‘You’re never going to get your home sterile and clean – no way – and there are better things to be doing with your time.’
She told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Personally, I don’t waste my time purchasing antibacterial products for the home.
‘The experiment was done to show that no matter how hard we try, we cannot eradicate microbes from our homes.
‘Antibacterial wipes will not kill microbes or stop them re-establishing.
‘We should be exposing ourselves to harmless microbes to keep our immune systems strong and healthy.’