If you're still using antibacterial liquid soap, it might be time to switch. According to the FDA, a plain old bar of soap is just as effective at getting rid of those pesky germs and actually a whole lot safer. Most of us reach for antibacterial liquid soap because it sounds more lethal to life threatening bacteria lingering on our hands. The term "antibacterial" implies the product is more potent, but the FDA says it's really just misleading.
"Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water," Dr. Janet Woodcock, Director for the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research explained.
But a communal bar of soap exchanging frequently dirty hands doesn't exactly sound better than a pump of antibacterial soap. What about the potential spread of infections and diseases? Aren't you at risk of being contaminated with leftover germs from the previous user?
Scientist conducted rigorous studies in 1965 and again in 1988 to put the safety of bar soaps to the test. They contaminated their hands with five billion bacteria, including disease causing strands like e coli and staph. After washing their contaminated hands with a bar of soap, 16 uncontaminated test subjects washed with the same bar.
The verdict? After using the contaminated bar of soap none of the test subjects had detectable traces of bacteria on their hands. In fact more recent studies have even shown that bar soap is a very effective way of preventing the outbreak of serious infections, including the Ebola virus.
Bar SoapSoap ClubThe science of soap has less to do with stronger ingredients and more to with how long you actually wash your hands. According to Scientific America, most of us are washing our hands wrong. Even more so when we reach for antibacterial liquid soaps.
Soap removes microorganisms from your skin when you lather and scrub for at least 20-30 seconds before rinsing. Studies have found that people using liquid soaps tend to apply and then immediately rinse. Washing so quickly essentially renders the soap useless.
Antibacterial soaps are also surprisingly worse for your health. So much so that the main ingredient, triclosan, and 17 other common ingredients in antibacterial products were banned by the FDA in 2016. If used correctly, antibacterial ingredients do have the potential to kill more bacteria than bar soap, but that's also part of the problem.
It turns out some bacteria on your hands have genes that allow them to resist strong antibacterial ingredients. The bacteria's ability to adapt allows it to flourish when all the other bacteria (including some good) are killed off. A take-over of resistant bacteria on your hands can be a life threatening result.
The main ingredient in antibacterial soap, triclosan, is also shown to disrupt your hormones. Irregular hormones can eventually lead to bigger health issues down the line, including the development of reproductive cancers. Triclosan is also found in some toothpastes and deodorants, so be sure to check ingredient labels to steer clear.
There's good reason to get rid of the anti-bacterial liquid soaps in your home or office. Aside from the potential health risks, antibacterial isn't better. It is however, usually more expensive. Skip the premium charge, the term "antibacterial" is more marketing ploy than actual science anyway. When it comes to clean hands and preventing the spread of germs, a 30 second lather with a bar of soap and water is best. Rinse and repeat.
Here are 3 versatile bar soaps to replace your antibacterial liquid soap:
Pure Castille Hemp Peppermint Bar Soap Dr.Bronner's
Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty BarDove
Dove's Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar: $3.79 for 2 bars
Deep Cleanse Bamboo Charcoal Detoxifying Soap BarHerbivore Botanicals