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Do anti-bacterial products really work?

Manufacturers of anti-bacterial cleaning products are required by law to be honest and accurate about the claims they make.When you do the dishes it’s not hard to see whether the product you’re using is doing the job properly and removing dirt and stains.

But when it comes to killing invisible germs and bacteria, how do you know it's working?

The simple fact is that it's not obvious when an anti-bacterial product is working. 

Companies have a responsibilty

When companies offer products that can help you protect your health in this way, they have extra responsibility to make sure that those products are properly tested to show they do what they say. 

Over 10 years ago now, we developed guidelines that our member companies agree to follow. The central principles are that products and the way they are presented must:

  • look to give you real help in reducing the risks of infection or other problems caused by microbes
  • reinforce good hygiene practice and neither play upon fear of infection nor give you a false sense of security
  • tell you clearly what the product can do, including any important limitations, so that if you follow the instructions the results are likely to be what you’d expect

Regulations apply to product claims

There is extensive guidance on the kinds of tests that should be done on each product to show what it can do, including:

  • its ability to reduce germs to safe levels
  • what types of germs it controls
  • how long the effect lasts if that’s an important part of the benefit

These guidelines are also used by the bodies which regulate advertising and independently make sure products are properly described.

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