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Big Little Lies: Clean Hands and Antibacterials

Big Little Lies: Clean Hands and Antibacterials

Soap doesn’t usually get a whole lot of attention. Sure it gets its 5 minute of household based fame when we run out and have to buy a new one (maybe 6 minutes if you choose a new brand or fragrance!). But for the most part it’s just the stuff you wash your hands with right?

Well no actually. Soap is a whole lot more than that. Think about it – soap effectively equals hygiene and what happened when public hygiene became a thing? A hell of a lot really. Mortality rates in hospitals decreased (gotta love Doctors washing their hands before treatments!), the spread of infectious diseases was reduced and the general wellbeing of populations improved. Now the humble soap can’t take all the credit, but it certainly was a big factor and since then has become part of every day life.

Given it’s glorious history, it is somewhat ironic that soap has almost come full circle and is now in the headlines for what it is causing, rather than preventing. Huge strides in the understanding of bacteria and bacteria based diseases saw the emergence of the omni-present antibacterial soap. In theory it makes sense – kill the germs and wash them away. Shouldn’t that be even better for us than just plain old soap? Well that is the line the manufacturers went with, and it has become the big little lie of the hand wash world. 

Triclosan and Triclocarban are two of the more common chemical anti-bacterials found in everyday ‘medicated’ soaps and have long been suspected of helping to increase antibiotic resistance, cause hormone disruption and potentially cause cancer in clinical trials on mice[1] along with evidence of interfering with our microbiome in the gut[2]. None of which could ever be considered ‘healthy’ side effects. They are also two of the nineteen chemicals banned by the FDA for use in Hand Soaps[3] with the chief concern being anti-biotic resistance as we seem set to loom forward towards the age of the superbug. 

So where does this leave you and your soap? Well basically it comes back to natural is better. The ban on chemical antibacterials hasn’t been enforced formally in Australia yet, so you do need to check your labels* – the most obvious advice being to avoid any soaps that advertise themselves as antibacterial (unless there is a medical reason as to why these types of soaps are needed in your home).   And, of course, it just so happens that we have a fabulous natural soap called The Hand Wash, which is why we care about the topic so much!

Now don't get us wrong - there is a place for medicated soaps. Hospitals, care facilities, homes with occupants who have compromised immune systems. But for the general, healthy population they just are not necessary and could potentially do more harm than good. Choosing a soap that is naturally and organically based and uses ingredients like citrus extracts as a natural anti-bacterial is a really good way to ensure your family can clean up without being left covered in chemicals. And avoid the potentially harmful side effects that chemical anti-bacterials have been associated with.

 

 

 

*If you want even more information on what to look for on labels check out one of our previous blog posts here

 

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-20/antibacterial-soaps-in-spotlight-as-companies-remove-chemicals/8040054

 

[2] https://qz.com/779681/the-new-fda-rule-on-triclosan-a-banned-chemical-in-anti-bacterial-soap-is-still-in-practically-every-other-american-bath-product/

 

[3] http://www.salon.com/2017/01/25/household-items-contain-fda-chemicals-banned-from-soap_partner/

 

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