More Reasons to Ditch Your Antibacterial Soap

Washing your hands often is a great idea - just don't do it with soap that's full of harmful chemicals

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Forget antibacterial – a plain ‘ole soap bar works just as well

New research has uncovered yet another reason to stop using chemical-filled antibacterial soap – it may be doing you more harm than good

Warnings about things that may or may not be dangerous seem to come so frequently it can become overwhelming.

Especially because so much of the advice is contradictory.

Dangers of Antibacterial Soap

One of the more recent warnings caught my eye though—mainly because it seems indisputable. Triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial hand soap, has been found to impair muscle function in animals and humans.

A recently released study by researchers from the University of California, Davis, found triclosan impedes muscle contractions at the cellular level. In mice, a single dose of triclosan reduced heart muscle function by 25 percent, while muscle strength was reduced by as much as 18 percent.

This is on top of problems already identified with the chemical, which include endocrine disruption, skin and eye irritation, the growth or antibiotic-resistant bacteria and environmental concerns.

One argument in favour of triclosan is that it really does protect us from harmful bacteria—and it does, but only in the case of very specific skin infections such as impetigo or in the case of gingivitis. But the chemical, which is absorbed through the skin and is also found in antiperspirants, hand sanitizers, shaving cream and mouthwash, is not required in day-to-day use.

Use Regular Soap

In fact both the FDA and Health Canada find that washing your hands with regular soap and water is just as effective as using an antibacterial soap.

So the wise thing here is to skip the antibacterial additives and keep clean the old-fashioned way.