Antibacterial Soap Is No Longer FDA Approved

Soap containing antibacterial ingredients like triclosan will disappear from store shelves within a year. The FDA announced today a rule that these ingredients are no longer considered safe and effective in soaps marketed to consumers.

We’ve long recommended that you stick with plain old soap and water as regular soap does a great job at removing germs. Antibacterial ingredients can also pose a risk to your health and the environment.

The FDA approved the sale of this soap a few years ago because the chemicals in it are fairly safe and a few drops of soap are unlikely to harm anyone. However, their use has become so widespread that triclosan has been found inbreast milk and dolphin blood . Most freshwater streams are infected with it . Triclosan kills both “good” and “bad” bacteria, and can make microbes resistant to other antibiotics .

In 2013, the FDA requested additional safety and efficacy data from manufacturers for 22 antibacterial ingredients used in hand soaps. Today they announced a solution for 19 ingredients, including triclosan:

Companies will no longer be able to sell antibacterial cleansers with these ingredients because manufacturers have not demonstrated the ingredients are safe for long-term daily use and are more effective than regular soap and water in preventing disease and the spread of certain infections.

By September 6 next year, these 19 ingredients will not be approved for handwashing without a prescription. The other three ingredients are benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol . The decision on them has been postponed until next year.

This rule does not apply to hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes. Hospitals will also continue to be able to use antibacterial soaps. Some soap manufacturers, knowing they had no compelling arguments, began reformulating their products immediately after the 2013 information request. This means that your favorite soap may have already given up antimicrobial drugs. Check out the links below for the official FDA regulation and an easier-to-read update for consumers.

Safety and efficacy of consumer antiseptics: over-the-counter topical microbial drugs | FDA Via FDA Consumer Updates


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