Volume 91, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



We conducted a randomized, non-inferiority field trial in urban Dhaka, Bangladesh among mothers to compare microbial efficacy of soapy water (30 g powdered detergent in 1.5 L water) with bar soap and water alone. Fieldworkers collected hand rinse samples before and after the following washing regimens: scrubbing with soapy water for 15 and 30 seconds; scrubbing with bar soap for 15 and 30 seconds; and scrubbing with water alone for 15 seconds. Soapy water and bar soap removed thermotolerant coliforms similarly after washing for 15 seconds (mean log reduction = 0.7 colony-forming units [CFU], < 0.001 for soapy water; mean log reduction = 0.6 CFU, = 0.001 for bar soap). Increasing scrubbing time to 30 seconds did not improve removal ( > 0.05). Scrubbing hands with water alone also reduced thermotolerant coliforms (mean log reduction = 0.3 CFU, = 0.046) but was less efficacious than scrubbing hands with soapy water. Soapy water is an inexpensive and microbiologically effective cleansing agent to improve handwashing among households with vulnerable children.


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  • Received : 14 Aug 2013
  • Accepted : 05 Mar 2014

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