We get it. Antibacterial soap is available in an abundance of delightful scents and fun foamy options, or sometimes it’s clear with those cool little beads. But don’t let the cute packaging fool you. Researchers in South Korea found that the antibacterial stuff is no better at killing germs dead than your regular old boring bar.
Using various hand-washing experiments, scientists found that it would take someone nine hours to get any benefit out of using antibacterial soap. NINE. Which isn’t realistic. So they then studied those who washed their hands with both antibac and regular kinds of soap for a reasonable amount of time — 30 seconds — and there was no difference found between the soaps.
Antibacterial soap has always promised that it kills bacteria, which means a lower chance of “catching” germs. That seems like a squeaky-clean theory. But antibac soaps also use triclosan, which is currently under safety review in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration for bad health effects like allergic reactions and skin rashes. And get this: the antibacterial soap may increase the chance of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and triclosan has also been linked to cancer in mice. So there’s that.
Granted, the potentially dangerous ingredient is useful in some products, like toothpaste, where it helps prevent gum disease. But as far as your hands go, since the study found that neither soap is better than the other, doesn’t it make more sense to use the plain — albeit less exciting — bar of soap?
It might be boring, but hey, it’s better than feeling dirty about it later.