Hand washing has become a big topic lately. And with that, there’s been a renewed interest in antibacterial soap as an option to eliminate germs. But does antibacterial soap actually help you to keep your hands cleaner?
First off, what is soap?
Traditional soap is made by combining fats such as vegetable oils with lye and water. The chemical process, called saponification, converts the vegetable oils’ fatty acids to cleansing soap and moisturizing glycerin.
Many soaps you find in the drug store are not actually soap but a blend of sulfates and other chemical surfactants that wash away oil and dirt.
How does soap work?
Soap is a surfactant, meaning it helps to reduce surface tension and lifts oil and dirt away from the surface of your skin. When you use soap and water, it traps oil, dirt, and germs and washes them away. So soap doesn’t kill germs; it removes them entirely.
What makes a soap antibacterial?
Antibacterial soap combines soap with an antibacterial agent that kills germs. Antibacterial soaps often contained triclosan as the active ingredient which has now been banned by the FDA. The idea of killing germs that can cause you to get sick is a great idea in theory. But in practice, the FDA says, “if you use these products because you think they protect you more than soap and water, that’s not correct. If you use them because of how they feel, there are many other products that have similar formulations but won’t expose your family to unnecessary chemicals.” Antibacterial soaps may give you a false sense of security, and the chemicals found in them can be harmful to your health. And why use a product with chemicals that may be harmful when plain soap and water are just as effective.
What should I use instead?
Bottom line: antibacterial soap is no better at stopping the spread of germs than regular soap and water. Washing your hands with plain soap and water is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. Germs stick to the oils on your hands, and using soap and water will wash them away. Both the CDC and FDA recommend washing with plain soap and water as the best way to stop the spread of germs. Especially as we head into cold and flu season, washing your hands is the best defense from getting sick.
Organic Bath Co. makes a wide variety of soaps, all made with organic oils. Whether you prefer bar or liquid soap, we have a soap that can help you keep your hands clean and wash away germs.