Sorry, that antibacterial soap isn’t doing anything more to clean you up than any other plain bar of soap.
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The FDA just announced it is eliminating almost all of the active ingredients used in antibacterial soaps after determining that the soaps didn’t have any more impact on preventing the spread of germs and infections than regular soap. These products will no longer be sold under misleading marketing in the US.
“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said the FDA’s Janet Woodcock said in a statement. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”
The new rule takes aim at 19 active ingredients found in antibacterial soap, the most common of which are triclosan and triclocarban, leaving just three ingredients that the FDA has yet to make a final decision on.
This isn’t exactly a new line from the FDA. It first proposed the change back in 2013, giving manufacturers the time in between to prove that these ingredients provided any real benefit. While this should change the selection of soaps Americans find on the shelf pretty dramatically, it doesn’t mean these ingredients are going to disappear entirely. The FDA said that manufacturers can still pop them into hand sanitisers or wipes, just not soap.
Australian manufacturers who don’t sell their products in the US are unaffected by the ban. Still, it’s a handy reminder that next time you’re out shopping, you’re likely just as well off buying that plain soap as you are buying that more expensive, antibacterial one.