Antibacterial Hand Soaps – Do You Need Them?


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Are Antibacterial Hand Soaps More Effective?

Do you really need to use antibacterial hand soaps on a regular basis to make sure your hands are clean?  In a study done in 2015 by the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy and published by UCBI, , National Library of Medicine in September 2015 the answer is NO!

In the study, 20 strains of bacteria were exposed to regular and antibacterial soaps. The conditions were similar to regular hand washing.  The results show that there is only a significant difference after the antibacterial soap is left on the bacteria for over 9 hours! So under regular hand washing conditions antibacterial hand soaps are no more effective than plain soap.

Antibacterial Hand Soaps

Antibacterial Ingredients Harmful

In addition to not being any more effective than regular soap, antibacterial soaps often contain harmful ingredients including Triclosan.  In early September, the FDA banned Triclosan along with 18 other ingredients.  It has been shown that Triclosan can decrease thyroid hormone levels.  In addition it can lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria. Especially relevant, it has the possibility of leading to skin cancer after long-term use. Soap makers have until next year to remove the ingredients from their products.  Many manufacturers have removed these ingredients but have replaced them with other ingredients that are still being studied as to their harmful effects. The 3 ingredients still under study are benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol. 

Ingredients Banned by FDA:

  • Cloflucarban
  • Fluorosalan
  • Hexachlorophene
  • Hexylresorcinol
  • Iodine complex (ammonium ether sulfate and polyoxyethylene sorbitan monolaurate)
  • Iodine complex (phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol)
  • Nonylphenoxypoly (ethyleneoxy) ethanoliodine
  • Poloxamer-iodine complex
  • Povidone-iodine 5 to 10 percent
  • Undecoylium chloride iodine complex
  • Methylbenzethonium chloride
  • Phenol (greater than 1.5 percent)
  • Phenol (less than 1.5 percent) 16
  • Secondary amyltricresols
  • Sodium oxychlorosene
  • Tribromsalan
  • Triclocarban
  • Triclosan
  • Triple dye

In conclusion, you are better off washing your hands with plain soap and water.  And be sure to look read the ingredient label on your soap container!

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