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Why you don't need antibacterial soap

Posted by Amalthea Ridge on

The FDA handed out a ruling against consumer antibacterial soap on 09/02/2016, and it is causing waves through households across the USA. You can read the official statement here: FDA ruling

The rule applies only to consumer soaps, like those you would purchase at the grocery store to use in your bathroom, that contain 19 specific antibacterial compounds. Triclosan in particular has been a concern for some time because of potential health and environmental effects, and will be phased out within one year.

One of the main points of the ruling is that the benefit of the soap does not balance the  perceived or potential cost of long term use of the product. Consumers began using antibacterial soaps assuming the elimination of bacteria will reduce the potential for infections but this assumption has not proven true. The more we learn about the importance of our body's microflora, the less sense it makes for us to use antibacterial products on a daily basis. Moreover, it was not demonstrated that using antibacterial soap is any more effective at safeguarding health than using regular soap.

Washing our hands is really important. It removes both dirt and germs to prevent the spread of disease. The simple act of rubbing your hands together under flowing water is a surprisingly effective way to remove all the things you'd rather not have there! It dilutes the contaminates away. When you add soap it is 30% more effective because you have made the contaminants more soluble by adding an amphiphilc particle to the mix. This number is from a study that is about 20 years old. I will add the reference when I dig it back up!

So, when you use up the last of that antibacterial soap, replace it with a soap you enjoy using (like an awesome, moisturizing goat milk soap maybe?) and pay attention to how you wash your hands. I grew up with parents who worked in hospitals and proper hand washing was required. The rule in our house was to wash you hands as long as it takes you to sing 'Happy Birthday'.  Sing it every time you wash your hands and they will be clean! 

More information about antibactierials versus soap and water from the FDA

If you want to read the whole ruling, click here!


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