Ditch the antibacterial soap.


If you’ve been reaching past the soaps on your supermarket shelf to find the one marked “antibacterial” you may have been doing yourself more harm than good according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

After years of study, “antibacterial” soaps have not been proven to be any more effective that plain soap and water for cleaning your hands or preventing infections. At the same time, many questions have been raised about the potential negative health effects of the chemicals use to make soap “antibacterial” (sometimes called “antimicrobial”).

Soon, 19 different active ingredients used to manufacture antibacterial soaps will no longer be approved for consumer use. Manufacturers may choose to eliminate their antibacterial products, or use one of three active ingredients still being studied (benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol). This rule doesn’t affect chemicals in hand sanitizers.

What should germ-fighting consumers do? Keep washing with plain soap and water, according to the FDA. It’s still the most effective and important step you can take to prevent spreading germs and getting sick.

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