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Antibacterial Soap: Protection or Poison?

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A lot of people think that antibacterial soap is a good idea. They see it as an added layer of protection against all the bad germs out there–a necessity with kids and during cold and flu Antibacterial soap: not effective and creates a toxic chemical when combined with tap water. Here's what to use instead.season.

I completely disagree. We don’t use antibacterial soap in our house AT ALL.

“So what gives, Mama?” you say. “Are you pro-germ? Is this some green-and-crunchy thing? Are you TRYING to get sick?”

No, no, and no.

My objection to antibacterial soap lies in one toxic ingredient: triclosan.

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent, which sounds like a good thing at first. Then I looked it up on Environmental Working Group’s site and found these alarming facts:

  • Triclosan causes endocrine disruption at very low doses. It produces adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. source

  • Triclosan is persistent and bioaccumulative in wildlife. This means it doesn’t break down in the environment and it builds up in food chains–posing risks to human health and ecosystems. source

  • Triclosan causes severe hormone disruption in wildlife. It changes testosterone concentration in male rats and hastens puberty in female rats. source

Is your skin crawling yet? Sorry, there’s more.

At Virginia Tech University, a team of researchers reported that triclosan interacts with the chlorine in tap water and degrades to produce chloroform, which is both toxic and carcinogenic following inhalation or skin absorption. source

What can you use instead?

Good news–plain old soap and warm water works just fine to get rid of germs. source

For an extra boost, make our own moisturizing foaming hand soap, and add immune-boosting essential oils. Learn more about my trusted brand of essential oils here.

Just a reminder: I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV. Please do your own research and decide for yourself!

Quick solution:

No time to make your own soap? Here’s a brand I trust–add a few drops of essential oil and you’re ready to go.

Antibacterial soap: not effective and creates a toxic chemical when combined with tap water. Here's what to use instead.

Read more about Homemade Soap

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Hi, I’m Pam! I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here, and please check out the resources in my Natural Living Shop!

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12 thoughts on -Antibacterial Soap: Protection or Poison?-

  1. Back when Anti-bacterial soap became popular? I did my own research. I spent weeks online and confirmed my own suspicions. Do not ever use anti-bacterial soap. A Harvard medical study confirmed that the best way to clean your hands is what my mother taught me as a child, I am now 70 years old, use hot water and plain old bar soap; I have now added Dr Bronner’s oil soaps to our arsenal. Antibiotic soap is just a fad, scaring you into buying something you don’t need.
    The ingredients in anti bacterial soap will surely kill the bacteria but it kills all bacteria, including all the good bacteria we need to exist as humans. To top it off when you wash your hands the bacteria killing chemicals are rendered useless because you already rinsed the bacteria down the drain when you began washing your hands. Now the chemicals have entered the environment and are killing all the bacteria all along the way to the ocean where it continues killing.
    The same reasoning applies to you when your doctor prescribes antibiotics. Add yogurt or probiotics to your diet when taking antibiotics and for about 2 weeks afterwards; if your don’t already consume them.

  2. I’m going to a Beginner Soapmaker and I absolutely under No! circumstances do I want to encounter lye!

    It sounds like they’re implications that Pour and Melt method is made of lye but on a smaller level of noticeably.
    Please tell me that’s no true.

    What attribution does lye a
    benefits brings to a bar of Soap?

  3. I’ve never believed in antibacterial stuff.. I think it affects our ability to fight germs ourselves and build immunities.
    Society has become overly germaphobic

  4. Great post!

    When I was expecting DD, I read about a child who had found of this stuff in her Mother’s purse -and ingested it. I believe the child died. Getting it in a child’s eyes is pretty bad, too. I threw out every complimentary package of this horrible stuff that I ever got! I try to keep my home – and especially my purse- as free as possible of things that would kill my child if she accidentally got ahold of them.

  5. Oh, my! This definitely makes me want to finally make my own soap. My husband and I started collecting things for this hobby – different oils, essential oils, and recipes – and then stopped when life got really busy. Looks like I need to pull this out again. Thanks for this post.

    I found your blog at Titus 2 Tuesdays. 🙂

  6. Amen Sistah! Not to mention that making a sterile environment isn’t actually good for the immune system, or the “superorganism” that is our bodies.

  7. I’ve often thought that anti-bacterial products were just an advertising gimmick to get people to buy a product….and to jack the price of the item! Soap and water has always been the best anti-bacterial product for me! Good info in your article, and an even better reason to avoid those those specially labelled cleaners/soaps.

  8. So what do you recommend in the car on the go to clean your hands with. You know when you stop for fast food and can’t get out. Or when you’ve been shopping and handle one of those nasty cart handles. Just wondering.

  9. Hi, I found you through the group board -DIY-party. I’d love to be added to the group. Do you know who I contact and how to go about being included?
    Ps…that antibacterial soap doesn’t sound good. Thank you for sharing about the ingredients.