Antibacterial Soaps Are Harmful – New Study Reveals

Antibacterial Soaps Are Harmful – New Study Reveals

According to 200 scientists and medics, Antibacterial soaps and gels are useless and may cause harm. The unanimity statement which was published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives also warns against the use of antimicrobial agents in food storage containers, exercise mats and paints.

Environmental health professors disclosed that ‘plain soap and water’ was the best way to protect against illness. The professors also mentioned that antibacterial products – some of which have been banned in the United States and are being sold out in other parts of the world – could cause harm to some consumers, especially pregnant women and those breastfeeding.

Dr Barbara Sattler, an Environmental health professor at the University of San Francisco, U.S., said: “People think antimicrobial hand soaps offer better protection against illness, but generally, antimicrobial soaps perform no better than plain soap and water.”

Just last year, America banned 19 different antimicrobial chemicals, including triclosan and triclocarban, saying they were not effective and should not be marketed for use in over-the-counter consumer wash products. However, scientists fear they have simply been replaced with ones that are even worse.

Unilever is one of the British firms that have announced to remove the two chemicals out of their products by the end of this year, adding that they will be replaced by “a range of alternatives, including natural and nature-inspired antibacterial ingredients”.

Executive Director of Green Science Policy Institute, Dr Arlene Blum, said: “I was happy that the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) finally acted to remove these chemicals from soaps.

“But I was dismayed to discover at my local drugstore that most products now contain substitutes that may be worse.

“Antimicrobials are also commonplace in products where you wouldn’t expect them, including paints, exercise mats, flooring, apparel, food storage containers, home textiles, electronics, kitchenware, school supplies, and countertops.”

Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, Dr Ted Schettler, said: “Customers may think added antimicrobials are a way to reduce infections, but with most products, there is no evidence that they do.”

Dr Rolf Halden, Professor of Engineering at Arizona State University noted: “Environmental and human exposures to triclosan and triclocarban are widespread, affecting pregnant women, developing foetuses, and breastfeeding babies.

“We must develop better alternatives and prevent unneeded exposures to antimicrobial chemicals.”


In June, a US study also debunks the general believe that warm water removes more germs than cold water. The research found hot water is no better than cold at getting rid of germs. They discovered washing in cool water removes just as many germs as hot water. 

The study carried out by Rutgers University in New Jersey also found antibacterial soap was no better than normal soap.

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