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A few facts about anti-bacterial soaps that may surprise you

Updated on September 10, 2014

Introduced in the 1950s, anti-bacterial soaps have become very popular. In developed countries they are present in almost every household nowadays. Producers and marketers of anti-bacterial soaps have been working very hard to establish their reputation as super-efficient germ-removers. In contrast, plain soaps have been downgraded and treated as something old-fashioned, which can serve on a complimentary basis when it comes to maintaining of personal hygiene.

This is true that anti-bacterial soaps remove bacteria and other pathogens from the skin surface, but so do plain soaps and warm water. Anti-bacterial soaps have no benefits over plain soaps when it comes to reducing bacteria on the skin and preventing the spread of infection. Over 40 scientists from 13 universities and public institutions have come to this conclusion. The American Medical Association and Food and Drug Administration also support this position.

Triclosan and triclocarban

This is not the end of surprises. Very often, soaps marketed as ‘anti-bacterial’ contain harmful to human and the environment chemicals, such as: 2-hyroxy 2’,4,4’-trichlorodiphenyl, commonly known as triclosan, or 3,4,4-trichlorocarbanalide (triclocarban). Triclosan is commonly found in liquid soaps, while triclocarban is a popular ingredient in soap bars.

The American Medical Association recommends products containing triclosan or triclocarban not to be used at homes as they encourage developing of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Moreover, even low levels of triclosan may disturb the human thyroid hormone system. Triclosan breaks down into methyl triclosan, a very dangerous neurotoxin known to cause nerve and immune system disorders. In contact with water, triclosan react with chlorine forming a carcinogen – chloroform.

If you care about the environment, you should know that these substances are harmful to the aquatic life as well. Unfortunately, wastewater treatments do not remove all of triclosan, which ends up in streams, lakes, and rivers. When scientists surveyed 85 of the US rivers and streams, triclosan was found in more than half of them.

Triclosan is very toxic to aquatic creatures. It accumulates in algae, snails and fish. The consumers’ organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) presses regulators to investigate the toxicity of triclosan on the natural environment.

Healthy alternatives

Hand-made soaps containing natural anti-bacterial agents are great alternatives to these toxic mixtures. The herbal soap pictured below is made of natural glycerine and enriched with tea tree oil and hop extract. Tea tree oil is well known for its strong anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-virus properties. It wipes away bacteria and other pathogens from the skin surface, leaving it clean and fresh. The hop’s extract soothes sores and inflammations, while glycerine helps the skin regain its natural level of moisture.

Tea Tree Oil Hand-made Soap


Charcoal is another natural and very effective skin disinfectant. It was used by ancient Egyptians for wounds cleaning. Nowadays charcoal is applied in water filters as it absorbs impurities. This unusual looking soap is a very effective skin cleanser and bacteria-killer.

Activated Carbon Hand-made Soap


This soap made of natural glycerine and containing silver particles is another alternative to chemical cleansers. Tiny particles of silver, called nano-silver are able to kill over 650 species of pathogens: bacteria, fungi and even viruses. This is why colloidal silver is used in dressing applied onto open wounds. Colloidal silver soap will destroy pathogens living on your skin surface, while natural components, such as beta carotene or grapefruit seeds extract will improve its condition and appearance. All this can be achieved without exposing ourselves to toxic ingredients.

Colloidal Silver Hand-made Soap


Triclosan and triclocarban

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