Antibacterial Soap... Something To Think About

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What makes most “antibacterial soaps” antibacterial is a chlorinated aromatic compound called Triclosan. By itself this compound doesn’t appear toxic to humans, but every time you wash your hands this stuff is ending up in wastewater and eventually making its way into the environment. Think about how quickly you go through a bottle of hand soap and realize that every last drop of it ends up going down the drain. You’ve got millions of people across the country using this and it’s ending up in lakes, streams, oceans etc (where it’s not particularly biodegradable by the way).

If it were really keeping people from getting sick, perhaps an argument could be made that this is an acceptable consequence, but it really isn’t necessary! Bacteria and viruses can’t penetrate healthy, intact skin. The only way that pathogenic bacteria on your hands can make you sick is if you eat something or touch a mucous membrane (your eyes, nose, mouth, etc); up until that point they are basically harmless and loosely attached to your skin.

And to remove them from your skin before you eat or touch a mucous membrane, any soap that you use will not only dislodge bacteria from your hands but will likely kill it as well by disrupting its cell membranes. This is why the whole idea of an ‘antibacterial soap’ is just plain silly – any type of soap in and of itself will cleanse your hands of bacteria. Unless you work in an environment that requires truly sterile hands (a hospital for example) the use of these antibacterial soaps is a waste of money and resources as well as a bane to the environment.

Is that not the most interesting thing you’ve heard all day? Well, we thought it was, and we couldn’t believe that companies are slapping the old “antibacterial” claim on their bottles to encourage people to purchase them when in fact they’re doing the world more harm than good (and regular old soap and water does the same thing without the environmental harm!). By no means do we mean to be preachy, but we just had to pass this info along in the hopes that even a few other households might adopt an anti-antibacterial approach and keep tons of damaging pollutants from permeating lakes, rivers, and oceans over time (can you imagine how much of a difference this new approach could make if just ten people changed the type of soap that they purchase over the next ten years?).