Antibacterial soap no better than regular soap

Wednesday, 23 September, 2015

They dominate our supermarket shelves and encourage our germophobe tendencies. But scientists in Korea have now discovered that using antibacterial soap when hand-washing is no more effective than using plain soap.

The study, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, examined the effect of triclosan (the most commonly used active antiseptic ingredient used in soap) on bacteria in two ways. The first was to examine the bactericidal effects of triclosan in soaps against all 20 strains, and the second compared the ability of antibacterial and non-antibacterial soap to remove bacteria from human hands. The results of the study indicate that there is no significant difference between the effects of plain soap and antibacterial soap when used under ‘real life’ conditions.

The scientists recreated the conditions of human hand-washing by exposing the bacteria for 20 seconds at 22°C (room temperature) and 40°C (warm temperature) to triclosan with a concentration of 0.3%. They discovered that more than nine hours of exposure was required before the antibacterial soap had a significantly greater effect on bacteria than the regular soap. The lead author of the paper, Dr Min-Suk Rhee, believes the research findings indicate that changes are needed to the way that antibacterial soaps are advertised to consumers.

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