The Shocking Truth Behind The Ban On Antibacterial Soaps

We’re creeped out and curious: the FDA’s recent ban on triclosan – a key ingredient in antibacterial soaps and sanitizers – has us purging those straggling anti-bac packs, and wondering about all the other questionable, but “approved” ingredients in our home and skincare products. Amy Ziff of MADE SAFE is weighing in again, addressing everything we need to know about this change in regulation…

 What Is It? Triclosan is a synthetic antimicrobial, which means it’s designed specifically to kill germs, and as such, it’s also a registered pesticide most often found in soaps and detergents. It was initially made for hospital environments, as a surgical scrub for medical professionals. However, over the last 30 years it has found its way into everyday products, and mounting research on its harm to human health shows that it’s much too harsh for everyday use.

Triclosan is a hormone disruptor that impacts the thyroid and is linked to increased risk of breast cancer. It bioaccumulates (builds up in our bodies) and has been found in breast milk and the umbilical cords of babies. It is toxic to the environment, too. As a microbe-killing agent, it’s actually been shown to be substantially more likely to kill aquatic life like algae, crustaceans and fish. In addition, triclosan has been shown to contribute to the rise of “superbugs,” which are bacteria and viruses that have become resistant to antimicrobials and antibacterials.

The bottom line: Studies show that this harmful chemical is no more effective at preventing disease than plain soap and water.

The Recent Ban on Triclosan: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in September that it’s banning the use of triclosan in antibacterial hand soaps after years of petitioning from numerous NGOs. Companies that use this ingredient in their soap will have one year to remove it.

This is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately though, triclosan is still used freely in a wide range of consumer products, including personal care products like some acne treatments, toothpaste, mouthwash and deodorant. It’s also still used in some dish soaps, and in some not-so-obvious products like socks, mattresses and kitchenware like cutting boards and lunch boxes.

How to avoid It: For the next year, avoid antibacterial hand soap with triclosan on the label. Wash your hands with plain old soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds (the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday in your head), according to CDC recommendations. Read labels of personal care products and dish soap to avoid triclosan. Avoid products labeled or marketed as “antimicrobial” or “odor fighting.” Our MADE SAFE seal does not allow known endocrine disruptors like triclosan, or any other chemicals known to harm human health or the environment.

From our friends


  1. how scary , we have been using antibacterial soaps for a long time. I will get rid of them and start using soap bars from natural food stores instead.

  2. I am happy to see this article, as I have noticed that the horrible Triclosan has mysteriously been disappearing. I have been telling every restaurant, doctor’s office (got my dentist to quit using it years ago), household that they should not use it, and why ever since it came out. I have also noticed that the Sterile type soaps and sprays are kind of winding down also. So word must be getting out that there are good bugs too, and so-called “sanitary” sprays are not good for the environment or our personal environments (our bodies). So one down! Many to go. Thanks again!

    Catharine Gunderson | 10.13.2016 | Reply
  3. I stopped using anything with Triclosan a few years ago when I began seeing warnings that it might make me more vulnerable to superbugs. I also warned loved ones of the same. I’m a bit of a hypochondriac so when I read about a sketchy product or chemical, I err on the side of caution and stop using it. Now there seems to be more documented evidence about triclosan so I’m glad that I’ve already stopped using it.

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