Your Soap Is Better If It Isn’t Antibacterial

Cartoon image of a germ

Antibacterial soaps are everywhere, and your soap is better if it isn’t antibacterial. Many people reach for antibacterial soaps and body washes, thinking it will increase their safety by lowering their risk of getting sick. The problem is that according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there isn’t enough science to show that antibacterial soaps are any better at preventing illness than washing with soap and water.

What makes a soap antibacterial?

Soaps that are labeled as antibacterial include ingredients that are added solely to kill or reduce microbes. In the past, triclosan was one such ingredient. In September of 2016, the FDA banned its use from household and health care products for consumers. They came to this decision because there was insufficient information on the long-term health effects of its use and a lack of evidence on Its effectiveness. The FDA stated: “There is no data demonstrating that over-the-counter antibacterial soaps are better at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water.” There may even be limited evidence that they are worse for long time use.

Why your soap is better if it isn’t antibacterial

We tend to focus on those bacteria that cause disease, but a healthy human body is full of millions of beneficial bacteria. Like pesticides, antibacterial agents do not discriminate whether they kill good bacteria or bad. Antibacterial soaps can reduce the healthy bacteria on your skin. The chemicals added to kill bacteria can remove your skin’s natural oils, leaving your skin dry and possibly irritated. Antibacterial soap often isn’t even “soap” at all. Many of these antibacterial washes use detergents, which can strip your skin of its natural oils. This works to dry out your skin after repeated use.

We are often tricked by the words “Doctor Recommended” or something similar to help ease our fear of getting sick. Science shows that using an antibacterial soap is no more effective at illness prevention. The truth is, doctors don’t recommend the widespread use of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes. These words are just there for advertisement purposes. Both the FDA and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend using plain soap and water over the antibacterial counterparts.

Luckily the FDA has banned widespread use of triclosan in consumer “soaps.” Commercial manufacturers use a variety of other chemicals to kill bacteria. What has been done to prove those chemicals are safe for long term use? What has been done to demonstrate that they are actually more effective than plain soap and water? We don’t know for sure, but our opinion is that manufacturers use these words because it takes advantage of a fear that we all have. Will additional ingredients in antibacterial soaps will be banned in the coming years? Does your soap even need to have antibacterial properties?

How can regular soap be better?

Oil and water don’t mix. We all know that. Soap works by attaching itself to both the oil and water, which allows the oils to be gently removed from your skin by the water. Most of the dirt on our skin will fall into one of two categories: oil-based, or water-based. Washing your hands with soap and water ensures that both types of dirt will be removed from your skin. That layer of dirt and oil is also where a majority of the bacteria and virus lives. Washing with soap cleans your hand of dirt and germs by flushing them down the drain.

Plain old soap and water is very effective at cleaning your hands. Using a well-made bar of organic hand soap will leave your skin clean and germ free, and will not dry your skin out like detergent based washes will. At Bay Berry Bliss we carry an assortment of organic handmade bar soaps to help you keep clean and keep your skin looking its best. Check out our soaps here.


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