The E. coli bacteria have the potential to live for hundreds of years. It was long thought that single-cell organisms, such as E. coli, which reproduce asexually, were essentially immortal.
Scientists now recognize that E. coli can indeed age, but this is a very long process. Fortunately, E. coli bacteriums only enter old age if left to their own devices. Washing surfaces with anti-bacterial soap is a proven method for eliminating E. coli from any environment. Keeping environments free from bacteria is an essential part of maintaining healthy, safe homes and businesses. However, some scientists believe that going overboard with cleanliness leads to worse health outcomes, particularly for infants and young children.