With cold and flu season quickly approaching, it seems like the logical choice would be to opt for ‘antibacterial’ soaps over the regular ones, right? Not exactly.

New research suggests that plain old soap is just as effective as its antibacterial-touting counterparts. Even though triclosan, the active ingredient in antibacterial soaps, does kill more bacteria, the fact is that the bacteria needs to be exposed to the triclosan for hours to be effective.

Obviously, people don’t wash their hands for that long. Add to that the fact that triclosan has a bit of a controversial reputation (though approved by the FDA, they’ve noted that, based on animal studies, the ingredient may interfere with hormonal regulation or cause antibiotic resistance). "The FDA has raised concerns about the safety of triclosan, and this study shows it may not provide any benefit anyway," said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an associate professor with the departments of pediatrics, population health and environmental medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "So, I would say that in most cases plain soap does the trick. Which is what moms have been saying since the 1930s and '40s. Turns out they were right."

If you like the added ‘antibacterial’ assurance but want a natural alternative to triclosan, try soaps made with tea tree oil. What brands or ingredients do you like in your soap stockpile?



Health Day: Antibacterial Soaps Fail to Beat Plain Soap