Antibacterial Soap Faces Pressure to Perform From FDA

Antibacterial Hand Soap No More Effective Than Plain Soap and WaterThe Food & Drug Administration announced Monday that the makers of antimicrobial and antibacterial soaps and body washes will need to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of their products, as well as prove that they prevent the spread of illness better than simple soap and water. Failing to do so, manufacturers must reformulate or re-label these products to continue selling them.

Targeting Troublemakers Triclosan and Triclocarban

The FDA is largely targeting tricloasan, used in liquid soaps, and triclocarban, used in bar and some “deodorant” soaps. The use of these chemicals is associated with endocrine disruption and the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Animal studies reveal that exposure to high levels of triclosan also disrupts thyroid homeostasis and has an effect on estrogen levels, leading to low sperm count in males and premature puberty in females. More concerning to the millions of Americans using the myriad of products that contain triclosan and triclocarban, the chemicals have also been detected in human breast milk, urine and blood.

While the FDA is not requiring that producers of antibacterial soaps immediately take their products of the market, manufacturers do have to conduct clinical studies showing the long-term health effects of the use of their soaps. If the products prove unsafe, the active ingredients must be removed to remain on the market.

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  1. says

    there is significant research showing that the antimicrobial property continues at very low dilution and does not deteriorate after time as such common things like hydrogen peroxide and chlorine – it effects the environment significantly and i will not use the stuff. Regular soap if fine for me and for heavy duty situations Clorox. Plain warm water in a shower removes 95% of bacteria, adding soap reduces to 99% why more?

    • says

      Indeed, it affects the environment and has toxic side effects in the human body. It has been proven over many years that antibacterial soap is no more effective than washing with plain soap and water…so I agree, why more?

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. says

    It is so scary all these chemicals that are put into the products we use. I’m a firm believer that soap and water and some friction do the trick in killing germs. I’ve never been a fan of antibacterial items, unless one works in a hospital. I’m a big fan of creating a natural resistance through exposure.

    • says

      Bonnie, It is especially scary considering we really don’t know all the long-term side effects of the chemicals in the products we use. Some of my friends who work in hospitals even poo-poo the hand sanitizers placed all over the establishment in favor of a strong hand washing. I’ve written before about the questionable use of hand sanitizer by consumers especially.

      “I’m a big fan of creating a natural resistance through exposure.” – Love what you say here, and I totally agree! Thanks for commenting.

  3. whitemist says

    So i must add some things – as a ex (retired) Health Department Chemist, there are very many ways to rid our selves of nasty bacteria in a more civil manner….many cultures wash meats with acids from vinegar or citrus to eliminate (yes i said that word) ALL surface bacteria. Actually doing some testing, i found that good old vinegar was significant in not only killing bacteria of the most hardy kind (MERSA), but preventing its growth. truth – there are bacteria that like acid, but they are not a problem for us generally speaking. We used serious things to kill bacteria in the lab for good reason. I use soap and warm water for my own use…all the time

    • says

      I have to agree that vinegar is *excellent* at killing bacteria. How excellent to hear that it can stop MRSA in its tracks!! I’ll be doing a series on alternatives to toxic cleaners. Would you be open to being a source for me for an article or two?

  4. JSeiderer says

    I’ve never used antibacterial soap. Studies like this just confirm my wariness about it. We use vinegar and water as household cleaner.

    • says

      You were very wise to trust your instincts about antibacterial soap! I need to start using vinegar and water as a cleaner more consistently. Is there a particular type of vinegar you recommend about others?

      • whitemist says

        acids (vinegar, lemon, lime and even orange juices) are great antibacterial agents. Regular soap helps them slide off and the extreme basic nature of soap is also a bactericide! This of course does mean that bacteria are generally not the hardy things they are project to be – yet they do have many forms…health wise we would only be concerned with the ones that live in our comfort zone and the other extremes are not worrisome.

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