Antibacterial Soap Is Basically a Scam

Published On 09/18/2015 Published On 09/18/2015

It might be time to wash your hands of antibacterial soap. Figuratively.

Antibacterial soap, which we've long been told is the best way to kill the zillions of germs on our hands, is actually no more effective than traditional soap, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. After testing regular soap and antibacterial soap formulas -- often containing germ-killing chemical triclosan -- on 20 strains of bacteria, researchers found that antibacterial soap failed to kill any more bacteria than good ol' soap and water, TIME reported.

Specifically, scientists at Korea University applied bacteria to the hands of 16 volunteers and had them wash their hands with basic soap and antibacterial soap, then measured the amount of bacteria leftover from one versus the other. The researchers also put small amounts of the bacteria into samples of antibacterial soap formulas with varying concentrations of triclosan as well as non-antibacterial soap, according to the report. In the end, the antibacterial soap performed almost entirely the same as regular soap. 

This is all to say that while you damn well better be washing your hands, pretty much any soap will do the trick.

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and employs a winning strategy that combines hand washing with whatever soap and use of hand sanitizer. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.



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