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Testing Antimicrobials:: Antibacterial Soap? Do They All Work the Same?

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    Science Museum of Minnesota

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Testing Antimicrobials:: Antibacterial Soap? Do They All Work the Same?

Many common household cleaners are antimicrobials. In this activity, learners will test the effectiveness of several of these agents such as bleach, hand soap, and hand gel on a common strain of bacteria, Bacillus megaterium. Learners engage in the scientific process by making predictions, testing their predictions with positive and negative controls, and finally interpreting the results. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Tubes
  • Tube holder
  • Plain LB broth
  • Bacillus megaterium in liquid culture (LB broth)
  • Indicator solution (FDA)
  • Household cleansers, soap, hand gel, bleach
  • UV light and viewing chamber


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Viruses and Bacteria
    • Human Body
      • Health and Nutrition
      • Medicine
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Limited free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Science Museum of Minnesota, ©2010

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation


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