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Why you should be using plain soap instead of antibacterial soaps

Plain soap and water is a more effective way of getting rid of harmful bugs than antibacterial soaps, which may be harmful to pregnant women, according to experts.1

Dr Barbara Sattler, environmental health professor at the University of San Francisco, said: ‘People think antimicrobial hand soaps offer better protection against illness, but generally, antimicrobial soaps perform no better than plain soap and water.’

Previous experiments have shown that antibacterial chemicals used in household products are unable to kill off germs that cause harmful diseases.

Antibacterial soaps were banned in the US in 2016 after claims they do ‘more harm than good’.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDS) introduced the measure after stating there is no scientific evidence that they are better than plain soap and water when it comes to preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.

Dr Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s center for evaluation and research, said: ‘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.

‘In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long term.’

Using the chemicals may increase antibacterial resistance, which is known to make antibiotics less effective.

The chemicals could be putting pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding at risk of infection from bugs, experts warned.

‘Environmental and human exposures to triclosan and triclocarban are widespread, affecting pregnant women, developing fetuses, and breast-feeding babies,’ said Rolf Halden, professor of engineering at Arizona State University.

Antibacterial chemicals could be harmful to pregnant women as they alter the activity of hormones in the body, many of which contribute to a baby’s development.

‘Customers may think added antimicrobials are a way to reduce infections, but in most products there is no evidence that they do,’ said Dr Ted Schettler, science director of the science and environmental health network.

The report was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.2

You can find healthy, chemical-free all-natural soaps suitable for hand washing here.


  1. University of Michigan - "Plain Soap As Effective As Antibacterial But Without The Risk". August 16, 2007
    link to article
  2. Mail Online - "Antibacterial soaps are useless at killing germs and may harm pregnant women, experts warn". Written by Daisy Dunne on June 27, 2017
    link to article

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