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Do you really need antibacterial soap at home?

December 17, 2013

Popular antibacterial soaps and cleaning products are under fire by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It is estimated that 75 percent of the antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the country contain triclosan, a germ-killing ingredient. However, the FDA has no idea whether it actually works – and they want manufacturers to prove its safety.


According to the Boston Globe, if the rules are made final by the FDA, it could probably force makers of personal hygiene products to demonstrate the safety of all bar soaps, liquid soap, body washes and dishwashing liquid labeled as “antibacterial” and “antimicrobial” or to remove or reformulate them by 2016


So, what does this mean for the general public and their handwashing practices?


“It’s perfectly acceptable to use soap and water at home to clean your hands. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends those products in the clinical setting, the general public doesn’t necessarily need antibacterial soap at home,” said Mary Ellen Scales, chief, Infection Control Officer, Baystate Medical Center.


She said it’s also a good idea to check the ingredients on the soaps you are buying if you have someone at home with sensitivities to some chemicals.


“But, it’s a good idea to carry alcohol-based wipes with you to clean your hands when soap and water aren’t nearby. I always clean my hands with a wipe before eating in a restaurant and after looking at a menu which has been touched by so many hands. And, if you want to stay healthy during the holiday season, it’s a good idea to clean your hands after touching objects in heavily populated areas where a lot of germs are being spread at this time of year, such as at airports, bus and trains stations, and even while shopping,” said Scales.