Many Antibacterial Soaps Are Bullshit And Don’t Work – BuzzFeed News

It’s time to say farewell to the old guard of antibacterial

In a new rule issued on Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration declared that antibacterial soaps can no longer
be sold if they contain any of a list of 19 now-forbidden
ingredients, including triclosan (used in liquid soaps) and
triclocarban (used in bar soaps).

While the FDA does not maintain a list of products with these
ingredients, popular products like Cetaphil
Gentle Cleansing Antibacterial Bar,
Safeguard bar soap, and Cuticura
antibacterial bars still list triclosan and triclocarban as

“Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial
washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not
demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term
daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in
preventing illness and the spread of certain infections,” the
FDA said.

The rule does not affect hand sanitizers or wipes, or products
used in health care such as hospitals and nursing homes.
Companies will have one year to remove these antibacterial
soaps from the market or reformulate them, although many have
already been phasing out the ingredients.

Safeguard maker Procter & Gamble said in an email to
BuzzFeed News, “P&G removed triclosan from our products a
few years ago. In the U.S., we only have one Safeguard bar soap
that contains triclocarban selling through remaining inventory
and will be completed well ahead of the FDA deadline for

Brands like
Dial and
Softsoap now instead use three ingredients — benzethonium
chloride, benzalkonium chloride, and chloroxylenol — which are
not covered by this FDA rule.

In 2013, the regulator issued a
proposed rule asking manufacturers to provide it with data
on the safety and effectiveness of ingredients like triclosan
and triclocarban, including clinical studies showing these
products were superior to non-antibacterial washes in
preventing human illness or reducing infection.

In the following years, “either no additional data were
submitted or the data and information that were submitted were
not sufficient for the agency to find that these ingredients
are Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective,” according to
the release.

American Cleaning Institute in a statement said,
“Manufacturers are continuing their work to provide even more
science and research to fill data gaps identified by FDA.”

The FDA’s proposed rule came after data suggested that
long-term exposure might lead to bacterial resistance or have
hormonal effects. Research by the Environmental Working Group,
an advocacy group, found companies using triclosan — which is
also used as a pesticide — in many soaps and even in

“Nine years ago we found it at disturbing levels in San
Francisco Bay,” said Ken Cook, co-founder and president of EWG,
in a statement. “Worse yet, EWG studies detected the stuff in
breast milk and in bodies of teenage girls.”

For now, “wash your hands with plain soap and water,” the FDA
recommended. “That’s still one of the most important steps you
can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading

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Yellow soap bubble of isolation
on a white background Bombaert
/ Getty Images

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