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

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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 Archive.org.]

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



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation