The Great Hand Soap Debate: Are Antibacterial Soaps More Effective?

The Great Hand Soap Debate: Are Antibacterial Soaps More Effective?


As the pandemic continues, so does the ongoing conversation around hand soap and which kind is the most effective at preventing infection. Should we exclusively be using antibacterial soap, or is plain soap and water good enough? Which products are best for protecting ourselves & our families from illness?

Even before the pandemic, people were curious about the necessity of antibacterial soap, and whether those products were safe for extended use. There’s a fine line to walk between protecting yourself from (harmful) bacteria and protecting yourself from the chemicals that kill bacteria – and remembering that both have the potential to harm your health.

In the spirit of National Handwashing Awareness Week (which began on December 6th!), we want to dive into the various factors you should consider before choosing a hand soap for your home.


What Makes Soap Antibacterial?

To begin with, it’s important to understand what antibacterial soap is. The primary difference between antibacterial soap and traditional soap is that the former contains chemicals meant to kill bacteria, rather than just remove it (which is what ordinary soap does). These chemicals, however, are the source of some controversy.  

One of the most common bacteria-killing ingredients found in antibacterial soaps (among other consumer products) is triclosan. Data has suggested that long-term exposure to triclosan may have negative effects on human health and could potentially increase bacteria resistance against certain medicines, including antibiotics. This chemical is found in a wide range of products, including pesticides, clothing, furniture, and toys, which means that our long-term exposure to triclosan is quite significant.

Besides triclosan, there are a number of other active ingredients in antibacterial soaps that are not found in traditional soaps.  


The FDA’s Ruling

Because of the proposed health issues associated with antibacterial chemicals, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has been highly critical of antibacterial hand soaps. In 2016, the FDA issued a final rule that “over-the-counter (OTC) consumer antiseptic wash products containing certain active ingredients can no longer be marketed.” This ruling was made due to a lack of sufficient evidence for the FDA to classify antibacterial products as Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective (GRAS/GRAE), and it applies to antibacterial products containing any of the 19 active ingredients specified, including triclosan.

In response, many manufacturers began phasing out their products that contained those active ingredients.


The Benefits of Regular Hand Soap

According to the FDA, washing with plain hand soap and water is “the best way to prevent the spread of infections and decrease the risk of getting sick.” No evidence has been found to prove that antibacterial soaps are more effective, and regular hand soap has the added benefit of not containing harmful chemicals. Our DAZZ Foaming Hand Soap, for instance, contains a total of five ingredients, all of which are plant & mineral-based and are naturally safer for long-term use.

The key to protecting your family from illness is washing your hands consistently and thoroughly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds at a time. It’s especially important to wash your hands after handling food, handling waste, touching animals, using the bathroom, caring for sick people, coughing, blowing your nose, or touching any high-touch surfaces.


Ready to try a new hand soap in your home? We just recently released three new DAZZ hand soap scents, and we’d love for you to give them a try.

Besides our original Lavender Lemon, we now offer Eucalyptus Mint, Strawberry Rose, and Pina Colada options for both Refills and Starter Kits.

If you can't decide which scent to try, we're also offering a Refill Variety Pack that includes all four scents!