I've seen innumerable antiseptic, mouthwash, handwash advertisements that claim to be able to eliminate as much as 99.9% of all germs over a surface...but why not the remaining 0.1% (i.e- why can't they eliminate all germs)?
What they mean by "germs":
Being a student of Biology, I can tell that the term "germs" is crudely defined. I would prefer to use "pathogens" (less ambiguous), and I suppose the guys that market these products have (roughly) the same idea in mind. Pathogens normally include bacteria (monerans), protozoans, fungi and viruses... so I guess these are the "germs" they're talking about.
What I'm looking for in an answer:
Why is it that these (commercial) products can't eliminate 100% of all pathogens? Is this due to the inability of antiseptics to act on a particular (class of) organisms? If so, what's the problem there? Or is it because, the guys who market stuff like this assume an arbitrary amount (0.1%) of the pathogens present on a surface (say, the human hand) is located in microscopic niches that are inaccessible to the antiseptic solution? (If it isn't possible to provide a blanket statement in this regard, use of Listerine as an example will suffice)
In other words:
Is an antiseptic's inability to eliminate 100% of all germs due to its "chemistry", or is it due to physical factors?
Do antiseptics/mouthwashes/handwashes even kill 99.9% of all germs in the first place? Or is it (as I strongly suspect) an example of marketing fraud?