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Antibacterial soap no more effective than plain soap at reducing bacterial contamination

September 16, 2015

Scientists in Korea have discovered that using antibacterial soap when hand-washing is no more effective than using plain soap, according to a paper published today in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

The study examined the effect of triclosan (the most commonly used active antiseptic ingredient used in soap) on bacteria in two ways. The first was to examine the bactericidal effects of triclosan in soaps against all 20 strains, and the second compared the ability of antibacterial and non-antibacterial soap to remove bacteria from human hands, by using 16 healthy adult volunteers. The results of the study indicate that there is no significant difference between the effects of plain soap and antibacterial soap when used under 'real life' conditions.

The scientists recreated the conditions of human hand washing by exposing the bacteria for 20 seconds at 22°C (room temperature) and 40°C (warm temperature) to triclosan with a concentration of 0.3% - the maximum allowed by law. There were significantly great effects after more than nine hours, but not during the short time required for hand washing. Lead author on the paper, Dr. Rhee, commented that: "advertisement and consumer belief regarding the effectiveness of antibacterial soaps needs to be addressed."
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Oxford University Press

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