“Kills 99.9% of germs” Really?

Everyone’s seen the commercials, “Our product kills 99.9% of germs!” What does this really mean though? Are they actually wiping out the acclaimed number of bacteria?image

A scientist from the University of Ottawa put this to the test. He used several students as test subjects. Three household name cleaners were used and the results were disturbing. The cleaners only killed between 46% and 60% of the germs on the student’s hands. So if these numbers are so low, how can companies boast such a high kill percentage?169574-60-of-the-time-it-works-every-5qhy

report by the Wall Street Journal found that since there are no government regulations on what germs cleaners have to kill to report a 99.9%, companies set up ideal conditions in a lab and knock off the easiest germs to kill. These lab tests are nothing like what you would see in real life, the countertops and human hands used for testing are scrubbed completely clean, then reapplied with a weak bacterium that is easy to kill. An article posted by thenakedscientists.com out of the University of Cambridge looks specifically at hand sanitizer and soaps. The state that even if these products could kill as many germs as they say they do, a lot of a lot is still a lot. They credit this to the fact that human hands are very good at retaining bacteria.

Image 1

Image 2

9 thoughts on ““Kills 99.9% of germs” Really?

  1. Casey Patrick Brennan

    I was also very skeptical of these marketing claims used by these companies, so I’m glad you decided to look into the claims. The fact that companies pick and choose different bacterium that are easy to kill, in a sterile lab situation, makes the claims on the bottles of their products make more sense. Here is another article looking into the truths about these claims, that I think really relates to your post. http://boingboing.net/2009/12/18/what-kills-999-of-ge.html

  2. Jen Malespina

    I really enjoyed this post even if it does freak me out knowing that an insignificant amount of germs are actually being killed. I’ve always trusted hand sanitizer as my go-to for disinfecting my hands but now I am beginning to question this. To add on to all of this, here is an article highlighting the disadvantages of hand sanitizer that many people do not realize: https://www.thestreet.com/story/12966410/2/5-hidden-dangers-of-hand-sanitizers.html

  3. cmt5658

    As someone who relies on hand sanitizer for everything, this makes me mad that companies can just completely lie about who well the product actually works. It makes me curious if other products like act like this too, for example soap. I found this interesting article, somewhat comical, asking that would it kill more germs if you used the 99 % hand sanitizer.. twice. (http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/questions/qotw/question/2882/) The conclusion that was while it will kill more germs, it will never fully reach the 99 percent.

  4. Annalise Marie Pilitowski

    I found this post interesting because I remember a middle school teacher of mine telling me that when labels say “kills 99.9% or germs” the percentage isn’t actually that high. I never believed her, because well, I was in middle school so I didn’t even care. However, I have become the kind of person that is constantly washing my hands or cleaning the counters in my kitchen and bathroom. I liked to think that I would kill everything but that 0.1% of germs, but now I know that my middle school teacher was right. I guess it makes sense, and this article helps explain this a little more.

  5. Daniel William Snyder

    I thought this article was very interesting as it seems like every bottle of soap or disinfectant or whatever cleaning product you could think of says it kills 99.9% of germs. I always thought it was a little odd that it seemed like every one could, but this article helped me gain some insight as to why. It really makes me think what products are better than others and what products don’t actually kill 99.9% of germs. I thought this similar article was very interesting. http://knowdigest.com/677/kills-99-9-percent-germs-misleading

  6. Charlotte Anderson

    I remember when I was in middle school my health teacher told me that the more I use purel, or and type of hand sanitizer, it actually makes me more susceptible to catching an illness. She said it was because every time I use it my tolerance to germs becomes lower. Here’s an article which goes more into detail about why to avoid using hand sanitizer http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Headline/illness-washing-hands-sanitizers/2014/12/23/id/614647/ .

  7. Ryan Gregory Blank

    This is a very interesting topic and I am glad that I took the time to read it. This causes me to know question a majority of sanitary cleaning supplies like hand-sanitizer. Is my hand sanitizer actually getting my hands clean? I would also like to know why this isn’t more publicly known. Would you be able to sue these companies than if their cleaning supplies can not kill 99.9% of all germs that exist in the world. If they can play around it, why wouldn’t the lawyers be able to?

  8. zvk5072

    Yeah, I have always wondered whether these marketing claims are accurate as well. It seems like it would be very easy to just invent lab situations where it will kill 99.9% of germs, but how applicable is that to our every-day lives. I highly recommend you check out this video from Good Morning America, who compared whether hand sanitizer or soap were more effective: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/ConsumerNews/washing-hands-soap-hand-sanitizer/story?id=8941662. Nice job on this blog covering a pretty cool topic.

Leave a Reply