When trying to get their hands extra clean, many people turn to antibacterial hand soaps. Living in Western culture, we’re pretty much conditioned to do it. I mean, it says “antibacterial” right on the label — this is the way to go to remove the most bacteria, right?
Actually… that’s not really the case. Plus, the ingredients found in your antibacterial soap may be harming your health and the health of the environment. Even the FDA has gotten on board with banning many of them. According to Dr. Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research:
“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.”
How common hand soap can cause damage
Let’s look at the most common ingredient in liquid antibacterial soap: triclosan. This substance has links to:
- Disrupting hormone function
- Raising risk of allergies
- Impairing muscle function
- Raising risk of infertility
- Contributing to heart disease
- Potentially leading to liver toxicity, cancer and fibrosis (as determined by mouse studies)
Researchers have also found that triclosan bioaccumulates in fish and other aquatic animals, making it highly worrying for wildlife preservation.
Because of the dangers of triclosan, and its cousin triclocarban (used in antibacterial bar soaps), the FDA has actually banned their use. They also banned the use of 17 other chemicals in antibacterial soaps in September of 2016. Manufacturers have until September of 2017 to get these ingredients out of their products. Many have already done so willingly. However, there are still quite a bit of triclosan-containing products currently on store shelves. The ban also does not apply to hospitals or to hand sanitizing products.
Keep your hands clean without dangerous chemicals
Even though you may have a habit of washing with antibacterial soap, it’s high time to break the habit. Using regular soap and water works just as well — make sure to lather for at least 20 seconds before you rinse. Even though they are not antibacterial, many conventional soaps still contain a wealth of other chemicals. So, you’re better off using a pure, natural soap variety as castile soap. You can get this either in liquid form or in bar form. If you’re using the liquid variety, put it in an empty soap pump bottle. That way, it will be just as convenient as the antibacterial stuff you’re used to.
Want to get crafty and make some luxurious homemade soap? It’s easier than you think. Check out these and these recipes for herbal soap awesomeness. If you want to carry hand sanitizer, but want to skip the triclosan and other additives, there’s an easy solution. Simply pour a bit of witch hazel in a small spritz or squeeze bottle and keep it in your briefcase, backpack or purse.
It’s that simple! There’s no need for the antibacterial soap or the chemical-laden hand sanitizer at all.
– Tanya Mead