I had an eye exam a few days ago and noticed antibacterial soap in the optometrist’s office. It seems like everyone is buying antibacterial soap these days. As more people become concerned about health, antibacterial soaps (and other antibacterial products) are becoming more popular. But is antibacterial soap necessary? And could it actually do more harm than good?
Most antibacterial soaps contain triclosan, a synthetic chemical that’s classified as a pesticide. Introduced to consumer products in 1995, triclosan can remain on the skin for hours, even after you rinse your hands, and it has been linked to liver damage.
Triclosan kills beneficial bacteria as well as harmful bacteria. It’s not surprising, then, that antibacterial soap can cause rashes for some people with sensitive skin. Moreover, the widespread use of triclosan may encourage the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
“Washing with soap and water is probably better than putting something on you that is over the long term inhibiting bacteria growth,” Fred Berman of Oregon Health & Science University told The Oregonian. “To go beyond that, in a way, is overkill. We don’t know for sure whether the use of something like triclosan is ultimately harmful.”
Virginia Tech researchers found that mixing triclosan with chlorinated water – which happens when you shower or wash dishes with antibacterial soap – can form chloroform, a known carcinogen. To be safe, ignore the advertisements for antibacterial soap and use regular soap and water, which works just as well.
Using a dry steam cleaner, you can also utilize pure water to clean your home. There’s no need to spread all those toxic cleaning chemicals across your floor! Steam cleaners kill bacteria and other germs on contact, and they work even better than chemical-soaked mops because the steam penetrates deep into tiny crevices.