Antibacterial soapsÂ are used by 74% of people in the USA. Manufacturers have propagated the idea that these products are ânecessaryâ to fight germs â instilling a fear of this invisible enemy into people â and the belief is almost universal that these are a âsuperiorâ product in the battle against germs.
Recent research has not only found antibacterial soap to be ineffective in real world conditions, but that there are health dangers associated with the chemicals in these soaps. However despite the research findings, 84% of US adults surveyed said they have no health or environmental concerns about antibacterial soap. Most people just donât even knowâŚ
Studies Found Antibacterial Soap Ineffective
In December 2013, owing to health concerns over the antibacterial agentÂ Triclosan, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule stating that manufacturers must provide data to demonstrate that antibacterial soap is more effective than plain soap and water.
The results of the studies are now out and itâs official: Antibacterial formulas donât work better than regular soap and hot water.
One study tested the products on 238 households and found that people who use antibacterial soaps and cleansers develop aÂ cough, runny nose,Â sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms just as often as people who use regular soaps.
A 2015 Oxford University study that compared antibacterial soap containing triclosan (at a concentration of 0.3% â the maximum allowed by law) with normal soap, found that Antibacterial soap containing triclosan (0.3%) was no more effective than plain soap at reducing bacterial contamination when used under âreal-lifeâ conditions.
A 2007 review also confirmed that antibacterial soap containing triclosan provided no additional benefit compared with a non-antibacterial soap.
Triclosan Causes Hormonal Disruption
The antibacterial and antifungal agentÂ TriclosanÂ (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol) has been associated with several health dangers, leading to its being already banned in the state of Minnesota.
The structure of triclosan is similar to the notoriousÂ bisphenol AÂ (BPA) and dioxins, and it is degraded into various chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins by heat and ultraviolet irradiation.
Triclosan has been shown to alter endocrine function in a variety of species: A 2006 study found that exposure to low levels of triclosan disrupts thyroid hormone-associated gene expression and can alter the rate of thyroid hormone-mediated postembryonic anuran development of the North American bullfrog.Â 
A 2009 study further demonstrated hormonal disruption â tatting that triclosan significantly decreases circulating concentrations of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) and to a lesser extent triiodothyronine (T3) in male rats.
Links To Cancer, Bone Malformation
Some animal studies showed that triclosan caused fetal bone malformations in mice and rats, which may hint at hormonal effects.
Triclosan has also been found to cause estrogenic activities in human breast cancer cells, which may stimulate the growth and development of cancer cells. The chemical has also been found to impair muscle function in both humans and animals, and is linked to an increase in allergies among children.
Links To Antibiotic Resistance
Triclosan has even been found to help staph bacteria colonize the human nose! In one human study, 41 percent of participants were found to have detectable levels of triclosan in their nasal mucus, and this was found to double a personâs risk of carrying and spreading staph.
Triclosan may also be contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
âLaboratory studies on bacteria exposed to triclosan demonstrate evidence of cross-resistance to critically important antibiotics including erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, ampicillin, and gentamicin. Further, there is evidence that resistance to triclosan itself exists in Salmonella enterica, Staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus, Escherichia coli, and other species of bacteria.
Strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis tolerant to triclosan have also showed resistance to the drug isoniazid (INH), which is used to treat tuberculosis.
You Have Triclosan In Your Body Right Now
Triclosan has been shown toÂ bioaccumulateÂ (thatâs not good news). It readily penetrates your skin and enters your bloodstream much easier than was once thought, and it is now found in the majority of AmericansÂ Â â having been found to be widespread in blood, breast milk and urine. It is also detected in waterways because it washes straight down the drain and some of it survives waste water treatment processing.
The chemical isnât only found in antibacterial soap; itâs also used inÂ dish soaps and detergents, body washes,Â toothpasteÂ and even cutting boards andâŚ lipstick.
It is fat-soluble â meaning that it builds up in fatty tissues â so scientists are concerned that it can appear at greater levels in the tissues of animals higher up the food chain, as the triclosan of all the plants and animals below them is concentrated.
Evidence of this possibility was turned up in 2009, when surveys of bottlenose dolphins off the coast of South Carolina and Florida found concerning levels of the chemical in their blood.
Such soaps may have their place, such as in an operating room prior to surgery, but theyâre being vastly overused in homes, schools, restaurants, and other settings with potentially devastating consequences.
With all this mounting scientific evidence it does seem that this chemical may be banned from consumer products within a few years. In the meantime, here are a few alternatives to consider.
Alternatives To Consider
1) Washing hands with good oleâ soap and hot water.
2) A study at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University found that misting 3% hydrogen peroxide followed by misting with vinegar killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. coli bacteria on heavily contaminated food and surfaces. Using one after the other (separate spray bottles) was found much more effective than mixing them together.
3)Â EucalyptusÂ andÂ tea tree essential oilsÂ have been found to be potent antibacterials for use on household surfaces â and areÂ notÂ thought to generate resistant bacteria over time. Add 20 drops of each to a spray bottle of water, shake well before use, then spray ânâ wipe as usual.