Antibacterial Soap is a Thing of the Past

A Tiny Victory in the “War on Microbes”

Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of over-the-counter antibacterial soap. While this certainly comes as good news to the Grow Network, it is a very small victory.

The FDA is giving industry one year to do away with “antibacterial washes” containing any of 19 newly banned active ingredients. These include triclosan and triclocarban.

The FDA reiterated its position that washing with simple soap and water is the most effective and least risky method for cleaning our hands.

Read more: Antibiotic Resistance on the Move

Plenty of Antibacterial Products Remain

The new rules don’t apply to the healthcare industry, only to general consumers. Healthcare providers will still be able to order and use antibacterial soaps.

The new rule seems to target over-the-counter hand and body washes. But plenty of over-the-counter products are still allowed to contain the 19 banned ingredients. Commercial hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes are not affected by the new rule. It’s not immediately clear whether other consumer products that aren’t specifically “antibacterial washes” (deodorant, creams and lotions, household cleaners) will continue to be allowed to include the 19 banned ingredients.

A few common antibacterial ingredients dodged the bullet, for the time being. Manufacturers of products using 3 antibacterial ingredients – benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol (PCMX) – were given one additional year to provide evidence that their products are safe and effective.

Quiz: What is Your Antibiotics IQ?

Back to the Old Drawing Board

Manufacturers have one year to remove offending products from the market, or to reformulate the products without any of the banned ingredients.

The FDA’s news release includes reassurances and recommendations for people who are concerned about the loss of these antibacterial products. “Washing with plain soap and running water remains one of the most important steps consumers can take to avoid getting sick and to prevent spreading germs to others. If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that it be an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.”

It is certainly good news that the overuse of antibacterial products is being curbed at the sink. But if you’ve followed along with our narrative about antibacterial resistance, you know that the average American sink is only the tip of the iceberg. Resistance has been found to be the most widespread at the hospital and on the farm – and any meaningful change will need to take place there.

Sam Coffman Top 25 Herbs Chart


FDA issues final rule on safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps.  U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm517478.htm

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  • Shasha says:

    If they allow these ingredients in other things…then basically there is little change to help bacteria resistance. Antibiotics in meat/dairy also hurt. I agree Soap/water is good/best compared to chemicals that may hurt. Hospitals are known for antibiotic resistance so allowing them to continue doesn’t help.

  • Richard Janics says:

    Why can’t I share to fb?

  • David says:

    Wash your hands in gud ole viniger, the ancient clenser.

  • Dan says:

    I disagree. Good soap and water is good. However I use a surgical scrub for wounds on my pets and on the farm. It is essential that we have these products. Normal soap will not do here. I do not use deodorant soap often. BUT there are times it is needed. Many of us WORK for a living. We get stinky. You silly office boys,…whatever. I feel the use of these products are NOT THE PROBLEM. It is the massive antibiotics used in the massive and disgusting corp farms. The FDA will not address this issue. Also, doctors need to stay out of my medicine cabinet. I get a toothache and I have to spend 200 to see a dentist to get a script (maybe) to take care of the infection. The poor suffer and we suffer through the misuse of the FDA and foolish rules while not addressing the very real problem. Way to go hippies. Driving a Prius does nothing for the environment. Taking a walk does. The walking infections in people are a major issue that one more underlying problem is the crappy medical offered to working people. AMA and FDA does not care about anything but themselves. Foolish, very foolish ruling. One more feel good ruling while we die.

  • Jeanne says:

    One does not need these products still, even for the uses you describe. The internal and external use of a high quality colloidal/ionic silver does the job quickly, safely, and effectively. This is well proven with hundreds of studies as well as personal experience, not to mention the historic use of silver. It’s antifungal as well. And yes, I agree that the antibiotics used in the raising of animals used for food as well as the use of all sorts of chemicals on crops grown for food are also the problem. It’s all about greed. Still, there are ways to stay healthy and well without commercial antibiotics.

  • Floyd Lloyd says:

    “If soap and water are not available and a consumer uses hand sanitizer instead…”

    If you don’t have or can’t afford plain old soap, what makes them think you can or would have the significantly more expensive hand sanitizers?

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