The anti-bacterial label may not be as important as you think.
While we don’t have a ton of information about the coronavirus, experts can all agree on one thing: you need to wash your hands.
Washing your hands often with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, has been proven to help cut down on the spread of germs and lower your risk of contracting the virus.
But what kind of soap should you be using?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says you can ditch the antibacterial soap in lieu of plain old soap and water.
“Using [anti-bacterial] products might give people a false sense of security,” said Theresa Michele, Director of Nonprescription Drug Products for the FDA. “If you use these products because you think they protect you more than soap and water, that’s not correct.”
In fact, these antibacterial soaps could be doing more harm than good for your body, in the long term.
In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned 19 additives commonly found in antibacterial soaps that you could buy at the store, due to potential negative health effects. One of these chemicals is called triclosan.
“It is estimated that three of every four antibacterial liquid soaps sold to the typical consumer contains triclosan as the active ingredient,” this article from Harvard University explains.
Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, studies have found triclosan can impact hormone signaling, immune responses, and even cardiovascular functions. Not to mention, overusing the product can kill all the good bacteria on your skin. And let’s be honest, we’re washing our hands plenty these days.
A 2015 study, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, sought to look deeper into the fringe benefits of antibacterial soap. The conclusion was simple, there wasn’t one.
“There was no significant difference in bactericidal activity between plain soap and antibacterial soap at either test temperature. However, antibacterial soap showed significantly greater bactericidal effects after 9 hours,” the study explained. “These results suggest that although triclosan-containing soap does have antibacterial activity, the effects are not apparent during the short time required for hand washing.”
They concluded that the antibacterial soap was no more effective than regular soap under “real-life conditions.”
A 2018 study published in Chemosphere took the effects of triclosan one step further by asking “what if triclosan could be found in breast milk?“
They found it can change the infant’s fecal microbiome.
The authors of the study received samples of breast milk from women who had been using personal care products, like antibacterial soap, that included triclosan.
Of the participants with detectable amounts of triclosan in their samples, 75% of them claimed to use products that contained triclosan daily.
“We found that the bacterial diversity in the fecal microbiome of the infants exposed to breast milk with detectable triclosan levels differed compared to their peers exposed to milk containing non-detectable amounts. This finding pimples that exogenous chemicals are impacting microbiome diversity,” the study concluded.
At the end of the day, don’t spend your money (or health!) on antibacterial soaps. Go with the natural, regular kinds instead. They’re less expensive, don’t have toxic chemicals, and leave the good bacteria on your skin so they can continue to fight the good fight for your body.
Click here for a list of organic and natural hand soaps.