Use soap, ditch the handwash.

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imagesThey have become ubiquitous in our homes, but scientists have warned that expensive antibacterial washes are no better at cleaning hands than ordinary soap and they may even encourage superbugs.

American research published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found that triclosan, the main active ingredient in many antibacterial soaps, can cause some bacteria to become resistant to commonly used antibiotics such as amoxicillin. That’s because triclosan targets bacteria in much the same way as antibiotics do, by destroying crucial components of their cells. Bacteria are highly adaptable and common ones such as E.coli and salmonella – major culprits in food poisoning – may develop some resistance to the threat.

Microbiologist Dr Anthony Hilton, of Aston University in the UK, says, “These products pander to people’s insecurities and they are often used inappropriately – for example, either too briefly or with cold water. You should wash hands thoroughly for several minutes in warm, clean water. The action of washing and the temperature remove bacteria more effectively than a fancy [antibacterial] product.”

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