Antibacterial Soap No Better Than Plain Soap

Unless you've got 9 hours to spare
By Brownie Marie,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2015 11:59 AM CDT
Antibacterial Soap No Better Than Plain Soap
Regular soap kills germs as well as the fancier variety, says a new study.   (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

People who shell out extra money for antibacterial soap might want to spend it on something else. Scientists have found that it's not any better than regular soap in killing bacteria, they report in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. The news comes out of South Korea, where researchers examined the effectiveness of a common ingredient in such soaps called triclosan, according to Science Daily. Volunteers washed their hands for the recommended 20 seconds under room- or warm-temperature water, and germs were killed as effectively whether they used antibacterial or non-antibacterial suds. The results held true in both lab and real-world experiments. The upshot is that while it's important to wash your hands thoroughly, "plain old soap and water will do just as well," in the words of Time.

It turns out that antibacterial soap can make a significant difference—but only if it's applied for nine hours. The researchers suggest the perceived superiority of antibacterial soap is a marketing ploy, adding that "advertisement and consumer belief regarding the effectiveness of antibacterial soaps needs to be addressed." Not coincidentally, the FDA is trying to do just that, demanding that manufacturers provide more evidence to back up their claims and more information about the potential health risks of ingredients such as triclosan, notes the Huffington Post. (Here's why you might want to skip using the dishwasher, too.)

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