Why are antibacterial soaps banned?

antibacterial soap The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a rule in September 2016 prohibiting the sale of soaps containing 19 antibacterial chemicals starting September 2017. Here’s what you need to know about the ban and what you can do to avoid bacterial illnesses without using these products.

Why the ban?
It all comes down to science. The FDA studied the health benefits of washing with soaps containing antibacterial ingredients and found they weren’t any better at preventing illness than washing with regular soap and water.

The agency has been concerned about long-term health consequences of using these products, especially triclosan and trilocarban. Manufacturers couldn’t prove the active ingredients were safe for daily use over time, nor could they prove that they actually prevented illness or infection better than soap and water washing.

Note: The ban only covers consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes used with water. It doesn’t pertain to hand sanitizers, wipes or antibacterial
soaps used in hospitals or other health care facilities.

How do you know if a product is antibacterial? Look for a Drug Facts label on the package.

A growing concern
Over the years, environmental, academic and regulatory groups have expressed objections about the overuse of triclosan and trilocarban. Studies have shown these antibacterial agents alter the way hormones work in animals, raising concerns about potential risks to people. And experts worry whether these chemicals are contributing to the rise of drug-resistant infections.

What you can do
It’s simple: Wash your hands well and often to avoid getting sick or spreading germs.

Be sure to wash:

  • Before/during/after food preparation
  • Before eating
  • Before/after taking care of someone who’s sick
  • Before/after cleaning a cut
  • After using the bathroom or changing diapers
  • After coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • After feeding or petting animals
  • After handling trash or animal waste

How to wash:

  • Wet hands with water, soap up
  • Scrub the backs of hands, between fingers and under nails for 20 seconds or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice
  • Rinse well
  • Dry with a clean towel or let hands air dry

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention