With a new strain of coronavirus making a sweeping and dramatic entry into the world, it seems like a very good time to discuss the benefits of regular soap vs antibacterial soap.
Years ago, soap manufacturers were proud of saying that their soap was antibacterial. They filled their liquid soaps with chemicals like surfactants and antibacterial ingredients.
But in late 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of common antibacterial ingredients. These bans included chemicals like triclosan, triclocarban, chloroxylenol, benzethonium chloride, and benzalkonium chloride (along with over a dozen others). The FDA had established that not only they were never proven to be totally effective against bacteria, they were not even proven to be safe for you.
About Antibacterial Soaps
Antibacterial liquid soaps have all of the same properties as soaps, but with additional ingredients added to eliminate bacteria that aren't washed away.
Since these chemicals are absorbed into our skin, we are right to be concerned about what they can do long-term. Sadly, it’s suspected that they can cause a host of new problems -- including antibiotic resistance, disruptions in your endocrine system, and even damage the environment by polluting water and soil.
In fact, overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial products is exactly how superbugs came into existence.
Those types of products, while incredibly valuable when used properly, cause major problems when overused. They have resulted in bacteria growing stronger, causing things like MRSA (and if you know me personally, you know about my husband's experience with MRSA and why I feel so strongly about this topic).
So, why is natural soap just as effective? Here's why...
How Natural Soap is A Natural Antibacterial
To understand how soap works, we need a refresher in basic chemistry. I'll make it quick.
Chemistry reminds us that there are two types of molecules:
- Polar: Things that can be mixed into water. Examples include sugar, salt, etc.
- Nonpolar: Things that cannot be mixed into water without an "emulsifier" (more on that later). Examples include oil, butter, fat, etc.
Since soap is made by combining polar ingredients (water or milks) with nonpolar ingredients (oils and butters), it makes perfect sense that they would contain dual properties. And so, soap molecules are amphipathic, meaning they have both polar and nonpolar properties.
Here is why that is important for coronavirus...
COVID-19 and Soap
First off, coronaviruses (which cause SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) are “viruses,” not bacteria. So antibacterial soap will not do anything more than regular soap can do because it's not anti-viral. It can't kill a virus.
Coronavirus is an “envelope” virus. This essentially means that each virus molecule is wrapped in an outer shell of “fat” or "protein". This envelope helps protect the virus inside the cell when it is between hosts.
Soap (any type of soap that lathers) is about the only thing that dissolves the outer shell of the virus, leaving the virus itself unprotected. Once the virus is unprotected, it is very fragile and quickly destroyed.
The qualities of soap (specifically, lather) help:
- Destroy the outer cell of the virus
- Lift the virus from the skin
- Allows water to wash the virus away.
Antibacterial literally means, “Active against bacteria.” And the one thing no germ or virus can escape is being washed away.
This is why hand washing with plain soap and water is so incredibly important when it comes to protecting yourself from disease.
Best of all, a well-formulated handmade soap contains superior ingredients, including glycerin, butters and oils. This helps keep your hands soft and moisturized without drying out!
So, what are you waiting for? Order your handmade soaps now! We're even including a free sample of Protect hand sanitizer in every order (while they last).
Don't take my word for it. Here are some great resources to help you along with your research.
- FDA: Antibacterial Soap? You Can Skip It, Use Plain Soap and Water
- CDC: Publications, Data and Statistics - Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
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