Wellness Matters

5 Reasons to Stop Using Antibacterial Soaps

September 26, 2016

Did you know that there are 19 ingredients in most antibacterial soaps? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does and has recently banned them from soaps and washes.

So are we at greater risk for getting sick by not using this added defense against germs? Not really. In fact, here are 5 reasons to discontinue using antibacterial soap.

  1. They are no more effective than regular soap. In 42 years of research, no evidence has been uncovered that proves antibacterial soaps are more effective. These soaps target bacteria, not viruses such as the flu. Viruses cause greater widespread illness.
  2. They may be creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Greater uses of antibiotic chemicals are causing random mutations in bacteria that allow them to survive exposure. The more often we use the chemicals, the greater and stronger the mutations.
  3. Antibacterial soaps may act as endocrine disruptors. One of the ingredients in these soaps is triclosan, which seems to interfere with the body’s ability to regulate the thyroid. This happens because triclosan resembles human hormones and can fool systems that rely on the thyroid. This can lead to infertility, advanced puberty, obesity or cancer. The body has a hard time processing triclosan. In one study on the effects of antibacterial soap, triclosan was found in the using samples of 75% of the tested subjects, demonstrating how our bodies absorb and retain the chemical.
  4. Antibacterial soaps kill good bacteria too. By reducing children’s exposure to bacteria, their immune systems have a higher chance of developing allergies such as hay fever. Exposure to bacteria at a young age is necessary for a properly functioning immune system as an adult.
  5. It is bad for the environment. Soap goes down the drain and back into the environment. Once there, it can harm algae, which make much of the world’s oxygen and are the beginning of the food chain.

The most effective way to get rid of germs by washing our hands with regular soap under running warm water for at least 20 seconds.  This new FDA ruling banning the sale of antibacterial soap does not apply to hand sanitizers, although it is recommended that you use products with at least 60 percent alcohol to be most effective. Hand sanitizers are not a replacement for soap and water, but offer protection when no soap or water are available.

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