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Antibacterial soap kills what exactly?

Did you wash your hands today? If so, there’s a good chance that you used an antibacterial soap. Gotta get those germs, right? But is antibacterial soap the best way to do this? The answer? Not really.

Crazy to pronounce active ingredient!

 Antibacterial soap is a cleaning product that contains ingredients reported to kill bacteria. It does so using ingredients like tricoslan, triclocarban, and chloroxylenol (try saying that five times fast!).

 When flu-season starts up and we get the sniffles, many of us reach for the antibacterial soap, thinking that this will help us to fight off that pesky cold. The main issue here is that most of the bugs that make us sick are actually caused by viruses, not bacteria.

 By now, you’ve no doubt heard about the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the bacteria that’s so used to our medicines that they don’t even bat an eye at them anymore. We’re beginning to see the consequences of this such as in the recently discovered “super gonorrhea”, where a STI that was once treatable is now becoming harder, sometimes impossible, to treat. We’re sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but antibacterial soap is having the same effect – the bacteria you’re trying to kill is just getting stronger and stronger. Yikes!

 Remember those oh so easy to pronounce words we mentioned earlier? You know, tricoslan, triclocarban, and chloroxylenol? Well, the FDA has banned those (and over 15 other similar ingredients) after research showed that they contributed to bacterial resistance and disrupted hormones with long-term use. In particular, tricoslan, which was originally introduced in pesticides (yuck!), has been shown to aggravate the growth of liver and kidney tumors.

Antibacterial soap may actually be hazardous!

 What can we do? Bacteria, after all, is still responsible for a lot of illnesses and infections so how can we stop their spread if antibacterial soaps are out of the picture? We’re so glad that you asked because the answer is very simple: plain soap and warm water. By “plain” soap, we mean basic soap that isn’t “antibacterial”. Research shows that good old fashioned soap and water is just as effective at killing the germs that accumulate on your hands.

 It is important to note that there are times and places for the use of antibacterial soaps. People who work in germ dense environments, such as hospitals, may indeed have occasion to use these products. After all, a small, dedicated group of health professionals using antibacterial items is vastly different in its impact than it being used on a global scale.

 The soap companies have tricked us with a clean marketing scheme turned dirty and the research is clear, we can do just fine with good ol’ soap and water, thank you very much.

1st Published Sep 16, 2016

1st Update July 21, 2017

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