Antibacterial Soap Not Helpful

News Note

By Lara Evans Bracciante

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, October/November 2004.

Your antibacterial soap does not provide better protection against infectious disease than conventional products — and it could breed a bug that will make you really sick. That’s what researchers at Columbia University determined when they randomly assigned 238 households to use either antibacterial or regular soap products for a year. During that time, both groups experienced the same number of infectious symptoms. Researchers were not surprised, as most infections are viral rather than bacterial. Furthermore, they say, it’s not the type of cleaner that makes the difference but the frequency and thoroughness with which things are washed.

Theoretically, antibacterial cleaners could contribute to mutated strains of super bacteria that become resistant to antibiotics. In addition, too few germs can strip a young child’s opportunity to build a strong immune system, leading ultimately to a greater chance of becoming ill. Your best bet: Use plain soap and hot water and wash frequently. In certain instances — for example, if someone in the house is ill or has a compromised immune system — use an alcohol wash or hand sanitizer product.