Sorry Germophobes, But the FDA Just Banned Antibacterial Soap

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Photo: Jutta Klee/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration said today that antibacterial soaps and body washes will be banned starting next year. The FDA says they aren’t any more effective than regular soap and manufacturers have been unable to prove that they’re safe for long-term use.

There are concerns that antibacterial ingredients like triclosan could be a hormone-disrupting chemical and also make bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Lots of people don’t want this stuff in our water supply. Manufacturers have a year to phase out 19 active ingredients including the most common ones, triclosan and triclocarban. The ruling affects more than 2,000 products, or roughly 40 percent of over-the-counter soaps.

Technically there are three ingredients that haven’t been banned yet: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol. Manufacturers have one year to submit information about their safety and effectiveness.

The rule doesn’t affect products used in health-care or food-service settings, or hand sanitizers or wipes. But the human race will be better off if the general public switches to regular soap and alcohol-based sanitizer.