I’ve asked myself this question a million times, how is anti-bacterial soap different from regular soap? Is there really a huge difference? If you have ever walked down an aisle in the store and looked at all of the different bottles of soap approximately 8 out of 10 say the word “antibacterial” but do we really know what this means? Well today I’m going to explain the differences and benefits between the two, hopefully giving you a better understanding of what you’re washing away! Or… what you’re not washing away. Don’t mind me turning scientific for a moment…
1. Soap has two main functions, to decrease water’s surface tension and to bind to dirt, oil, and bacteria. Soap can do this because one part is hydrophilic (water-binding) and the other part is hydrophobic (water-repellent). The hydrophilic part allows the hydrophobic fatty acids to come into contact with other hydrophobic substances, such as the dirt on the surface that is being cleaned. When the grime adheres to the soap’s fatty acids, it becomes encapsulated in droplets of water. Dirt, oil and bacteria are easily scrubbed off and washed away in this suspended state. So ordinary soap does get rid of bacteria.
2. The antibacterial components of soaps (usually triclosan or, less commonly, triclocarbon) need to be left on a surface for about two minutes in order to work. Most people are not this patient, and end up washing off the soap before the antibacterial ingredients can do their job.
3. Some scientists theorize that bacteria may develop a resistance to bactericidal agents over time. Some bacteria actually benefit us. The normal population of bacteria on our bodies not only eats our sweat, but also helps defend us against truly harmful, invasive bacteria.
4. Many common diseases are viral in nature, and therefor are not preventable by antibacterial products. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibacterial soaps are not necessary, but washing your hands thoroughly with ordinary soap and warm water is one of the most effective ways to ward off infection.
As anyone with children will know, there is time invested to researching our soaps to keep our kids as healthy as possible. Antibacterials, scented, foam, and the list goes on and on. But we can ‘de-bunk’ one of the myths here today. Is Anti-bacterial soap better than regular soap? Researchers and experts of all sorts seem to think “No.”