Regular soap is really good at killing bacteria, but most people feel that antibacterial soaps are even better. After all, they’re antibacterial, right? Well, according to a thorough research, that’s not true at all – regular soap works just as good as antibacterial soap.
The main ingredient that differentiates “antibacterial” soaps is triclosan. Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent widely used in detergents and soaps, but whose efficacy as an antimicrobial agent and the risk of bacterial resistance remain controversial. Now, a new study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy found no difference in terms of killing germs between regular soaps and triclosan soaps.
In the study, Min-Suk Rhee and colleagues from Korea University exposed 20 strains of bacteria to the two types of soap – a regular one, and one with 0.3 percent triclosan concentration – the maximum concentration allowed by law. The bacteria was exposed to the soap for 20 seconds, simulating an average hand wash.
The same experiment was repeated on 16 participants, who were asked to wash their hands with the two soaps just as they regularly do. In both cases, there was no noticeable difference.
“Antibacterial activities of triclosan have been well documented. However, its risk remains controversial since various adverse effects have been reported, including allergen, antibiotic resistance, carcinogenic impurities and bioaccumulation,” Rhee says. “Our study indicates there was no significant difference in antiseptic effects” between soaps that contain triclosan and those that don’t.
This comes as triclosan has been under scrutiny for potential health hazards, which include skin rashes, allergies, and “training” drug-resistant bacteria. Whether or not that’s the case, buying triclosan soap when regular soap is just as good is simply not worth the risk.