Antibacterial Soaps are About to Disappear

Well, that was a waste of time and money.

Antibacterial soaps will soon disappear from store shelves under orders from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which said Friday that they provide no benefits over regular soap.

Products with 19 antibacterial ingredients — the most popular of which are triclosan and triclocarban — must be reformulated or removed from stores within a year, the FDA announced Friday.

Hand sanitizers and wipes designed to be used without water and containing more than 50% alcohol are not affected by the new rules, nor are cleansers in hospitals or nursing homes, Theresa Michele of the FDA’s Division of Non-prescription Drug Products said in a Friday morning news conference.

Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble have already announced plans to remove triclosan from their commercially available products. Triclosan and the other 18 ingredients are present in more than 2,100 products, or roughly 40% of the soaps on the market, Michele said.

Using cleaners with the 19 specified ingredients could increase bacterial resistance, making it harder to fight disease, and may affect hormones, Michele said. The FDA had given manufacturers time to come up with data showing their products were better than soap alone, but no significant new data were submitted, she said.

It has long been speculated that antibacterial soaps may be making bacteria stronger and would one day unleash some sort of Stephen King horror show super bug on the planet. However, we thought we were getting some benefit now. Turns out I could have simply been using the zillions of hotel bar soaps I have been hoarding over the years and my hands would still have been surgery-ready.

No, I am not actually performing surgery. As far as anyone knows.

It is weird being in sync with the environmentalists on this one but once in a while even they get one right. Soap never really seemed like something that needed improving upon, after all. It’s basically the bacon of cleaning products-just leave it alone and it’s awesome.

At the rate we’re being told most things from the last few decades were a sham (flossing, the food pyramid, low fat diets, etc.) I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will soon be told that they’ve been wrong about everything and that ice cream and beer are the keys to longevity.