Is antibacterial soap necessary?

Nov 20, 2020 | Joey Keillor | @joeykeillor

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Hand washing has taken on heightened importance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there’s no reason for the general public to use antibacterial soaps. They’re no more effective than plain soap at getting rid of germs — including viruses. Lathering with soap helps lift germs from the skin so that they can be washed away. But plain soap doesn’t contain specific antibacterial chemicals — such as triclosan or triclocarban — that are in many antibacterial soaps.

Many people purchase antibacterial products hoping that they will help prevent illness and infection. But according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there’s not enough evidence to support this claim. There’s also a concern that using antibacterial soap might contribute to the development of bacteria that are resistant to the product’s antimicrobial agents, making it harder to kill these germs in the future.

Use regular soap and water or, when traveling or when water is scarce, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — with at least 60% alcohol — to help prevent the spread of infection of all kinds. And follow the hand washing tips below:

 

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Stay safe and stay connected by joining the conversation on the COVID-19 group. The virtual walking support group is one of the most popular places on Mayo Clinic Connect!

 

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