Antibacterial Soap, Don't Use it!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by heelpin, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. heelpin

    heelpin Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2003
    The Truth About Antibacterial Soaps--And Why You Should Avoid Them

    By Dr. Joseph Mercola
    with Rachael Droege

    It used to be that antibacterial soaps were used mainly in clinical health care environments. Now, antibacterial soaps are used in households across the country where they amount to a $16 billion-a-year industry. Some 72 percent of all liquid soap sold in the United States now contains antibacterial ingredients.

    The active ingredient in most antibacterial products is triclosan, an antibacterial agent that kills bacteria and inhibits bacterial growth. But not only does triclosan kill bacteria, it also has been shown to kill human cells. Triclosan was introduced into consumer products in 1995, and its use has spread rapidly.

    Antibacterial ingredients have become so prevalent in the United States that there are now antibacterial soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, dish soaps and many household cleaning products.

    Consumers use these products because they have been marketed as an effective and necessary way to lower the risk of infection. However, many scientists fear that the widespread use could lead to a strain of resistant bacteria, or “superbugs,” and cause the ingredients to lose effectiveness for the times when they really are needed.

    And now, the first major test in people's homes has found that using antibacterial products apparently offers little protection against the most common germs. The study represents the first time scientists have attempted to evaluate the products under real-life, day-to-day conditions in homes.

    In the study, published in the March 2, 2004 journal Annals of Internal Medicine, people who used antibacterial soaps and cleansers developed cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms just as often as people who used products that did not contain antibacterial ingredients.

    The researchers pointed out that most of the symptoms experienced by the study participants are typically caused by viruses, which the antibacterial soaps don’t protect against. And for the symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, which may be caused by bacteria, the people who used regular soaps had no greater risk than those who used antibacterial products.

    Further, many traditional medical circles now accept the hygiene hypothesis, which centers on the idea that children need to be exposed to some bacteria in early childhood in order to strengthen their immune systems. Children who are not exposed to common bacteria, which are wiped out by antibacterial soap, may be more prone to allergies and asthma.

    Even the American Medical Association (AMA) does not recommend these products. So why do they persist? Simple; the manufacturers have relied on using fear to convince people that they need to use them to stay healthy. So, avoid being duped by these companies. All you need to use is a plain, chemical-free soap that you can pick up in your local health food store, as washing with plain soap and water will get rid of most all bacteria.

    ©Copyright 2004 Dr. Joseph Mercola. All Rights Reserved. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required.
  2. Qvrfullmidwife

    Qvrfullmidwife Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2004
    "However, many scientists fear that the widespread use could lead to a strain of resistant bacteria, or “superbugs,” and cause the ingredients to lose effectiveness for the times when they really are needed. "

    Actually, at least one study that came out about a year ago (rapidly losing brain cells, cant recall when) said that they had seen no evidence of antibacterial soap causing resistant strains...

    "The researchers pointed out that most of the symptoms experienced by the study participants are typically caused by viruses, which the antibacterial soaps don’t protect against. And for the symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, which may be caused by bacteria, the people who used regular soaps had no greater risk than those who used antibacterial products. "

    I think the botttom line is that it is better to use soap...ANY soap rather than none...which is all too common, just spend some time in any public restroom and watch the people who just run right out without even as much as a rinse! YUCK!

  3. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2002
    WARNING!! don't use them if you have a septic system as they will harm the bacteria that makes the septic do its job. BAD THING!! good thing is flushing sour milk or yogert or buttermilk. Mine doesn't need anything else. It has its own bacteria well established.
  4. RenieB

    RenieB Well-Known Member

    May 12, 2002
    Very interesting. I know that in hospitals staph is a very common problem, especially in the medication rooms. They say that it is due to all the antibiotics in the area and the staph becomes resistant therefore more prevelant. It is like so many people want an antibiotic for everything and the result is the bacteria develop a resistance and you have to keep changing to a different antibiotic. I used to take penicillin as a child and now I can no longer take it. Sometimes we should let the body take care of itself. But it does make sense about the antibacterial soap and the killling of the good along with the bad.

  5. jillianjiggs

    jillianjiggs Well-Known Member

    May 13, 2003
    I just finished renewing my CPR and First Aid certs through the city I work for. Both instructors stressed that you DON'T need antibacterial soap to clean your hands. Get your hands wet, add ANY soap, scrub good for at least 30 seconds, and rinse. In fact, usually the only antibacterial 'soap' products that are used are hand sanitizers and products to sanitize areas that might have had blood or other bodily fluids on them, such as a pool deck or an EMT's shoes.

    I use natural antibiotics whenever possible, such as lavender and tea tree oils, or salicytic acid (aspirin, or willow bark). I have even been known to make a compress of smushed garlic for an ingrown toenail. If it's safe and it works, why not? They've been used for thousands upon thousands of years with no ill effects...Whereas antibiotics have been in existence for less than a century and are already causing rapidly stronger bacteria to grow.
  6. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    Jun 28, 2003
    Southeast Iowa
    "Antibacterial soap" is silly. ALL soap is antibacterial. Granted that Triclosan can kill *more* of the nasties in one short little run, but yes, if you wash your hands and arms and whatever, for a full 30 seconds (most people do NOT do this) you will get the ickies off of you.

    I agree, lavender, rosemary, tea tree...all good natural antibacterial agents for that 'extra" umph that people like to have. If you need a so-caleld antibacterial soap, try one of those! (make sure it's with essential oils, not the fragrance oils - fragrance oils are not going to do it).

  7. Timedess

    Timedess Guest

    The action of "soap" is to help water "wet" better, thusly making it more effective at carrying away dirt (and germs) in the rinse. I'm in the process of gradually replacing all the synthetic cleaners from my home and replacing them with *real soap*. All I have left to figure out is shampoo and dishwashing "soap". I've recently learned about xenoestrogens found in many products, including some detergents... these are NOT good for us, folks! My problem is in not having enough $$$ to buy bulk *everything*. I might have to go back to making my own soap again (and figure out how to make everything else "cleaning" from it).

    Haven't had "antibacterial soap" (which isn't really *soap* anyway) in this house in many years.

  8. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Jun 8, 2004
    My opinion...beware!

    I think that our society is over-doing 'clean'. We don't allow our kids to build up a natural immunity to anything!

    There is a rise in asthma, in autoimmune diseases, in all sorts of weird stuff that was rare 50 years ago. Now, part of that is due to better diagnosing, of course. But one hypothesis on the increase in autoimmune disease is that immune systems aren't being 'allowed' to do the job they evolved for, and react by 'doing their job' on the wrong thing...their own body!

    So, while I like clean, I don't "disinfect" everything. Clean is good. Sterile is for operating rooms.

    Stepping down from the soap box now....

  9. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

    Jun 28, 2003
    Southeast Iowa
    AMEN! Let your children play in the dirt, even taste it. That's what children do. Don't give antibiotics at the first hint or sign of anything wrong. As soon as the body's immune system starts to poke it's head out of it's cave, it is being stomped on by antibiotics and never allowed the chance to work it's own some point, said immune system begins to atrophy, so to speak. And then is completely useless and doesn't know HOW to defend the body when it's needed.

    Sure - wash their hands and take showers and give baths...I can't stand seeing dirty hands and faces at the kitchen table. Cleanliness has its place...but paranoia toward germs only makes things worse.

    My opinion. Apparently shared by at least a *few*...

  10. DayBird

    DayBird Big Bird

    Jul 25, 2004
    Pell City, AL
    Many times, I'd rather not wash my hands in a public restroom. It's a personal choice made on an "as it happens" basis. I'm not being lazy or trying to spread disease. I'm trying to protect myself from what's growing on the sink and faucets and papertowel holders. Not long ago, a friend and I were travelling home from a business meeting and we "had to go." We stopped at the closest Stuckeys. I went to the men's room and she to the lady's room. I couldn't get close enough to the toilet. I just unzipped and let it loose. No way was I touching the sink. She went behind the building and squatted next to a bush. Of course, this is the exception to the rule. I always carry with me several things in a bag, they're never further away than my car. In the bag are many, many alcohol wipes. I use these to sanitize my hands.

    Most bacteria have cell walls that are composed of a polysacharide surrounded by lipids. Any soap will loosen the lipids (fats) and allow water to dissolve the polysacharides (sugar). Any soap will kill bacteria if the contact time is long enough.

    I second the hypothesis that children need to be exposed to bacteria to develop an immune system. My 4 year old son was born after a long labor. He had swallowed lots of fluid and the doctor couldn't clear his lungs. He was kept in the NICU for 10 days on strong antibiotics. My wife expressed breast milk so he could be fed the colostrum with a bottle. Everyone worried that he'd immediately die when brought home to a house full of animals. The neonatologists assured my family that dog germs make dogs sick and bird germs make birds sick. He said that our baby would be just fine. He's never had a medical problem, not so much as a snotty nose, ever, and we have never used antibacterial anything.
  11. barbarake

    barbarake Well-Known Member

    Oct 23, 2003
    Upstate SC
    I remember that I always made a point of encouraging my boys (now 14 & 15) to play in the dirt, etc. And I encouraged them to walk barefoot in the dirt!! Of course, all this horrified my mother-in-law. (But she was also horrified at my breast-feeding them.)

    I even (egad!!!) deliberately exposed them to chicken pox when they were 3 and 4. (Naturally, that was another horrible thing for me to do. :no: )

    Other than one ear infection each at about one year of age, neither has been to the doctor because of sickness. (Of course, broken arms and stitches come with 'boy' territory :rolleyes: Actually, they come with 'kid' territory.)

    I totally agree about the anti-bacterial soap and have never had any in my house.
  12. citygonecountry

    citygonecountry Active Member

    Jul 30, 2004
    I guess it is a "personal" NO MEANS am I obsessed with "clean" BUT we do use antibacterial soap and dish soap. Laundry has belach and/or baking soda added. I also use lysol, and since we have switched to using antibacterial products and spraying lysol on facets and door handles my kids have been to the doctor ALOT LESS then before we started using them.
    Of course they all still get dirty and play in the sand, mud, and pond. But they all know that after the have touched, played with, or petted any of the outside animals chickens, rabbits, dogs that they are to wash their hands.

    I think a lot of the worries really come from OVER doing it, washing EVERYTHING with antibacterial soaps, and being OBSESSIVE with cleaning products. I have an aunt that was basically paranoid with clean and obsessive to the point that it actually made you laugh, She had 3 boys and they were NOT allowed to play in the dirt, everything had to be scrubbed down every day , I dont mean just wiping the counters down, I am talking germ warfare, she actually bleached the whole kitchen and bathroom.

    Of course there are many that will disagree with me and many that will say they would NEVER use antibacterial products. But we all are allowed our own opinions and to do what we wish .

    And as for septics there is a product( name eludes me) that you can use to put the "good: bacteria back in there. We have it, but as of yet haven't added any to ours.

  13. Pythia

    Pythia Active Member

    May 10, 2002
    I would join you on your soap box. I thoroughly agree.

    I do admit to using antibacterial dish soap, mainly because we have 3 cats and our house is FAR from germ-free. I don't use harsh cleaners anywhere else.

    I keep seeing commercials on TV saying that your clothes/sheets aren't really clean unless you bleach them with every wash. Dusting/mopping are filthy and disease-promoting tasks unless you use disposible products. Even disposble toilet brushes now.

    It's gotten to be overkill, and it's less healthy then letting a few germs wander around in your home. Not to mention the environmental damage of all the unecessary chemicals and disposible 'stuff'
  14. cloverfarm

    cloverfarm Well-Known Member

    May 31, 2004
    Sarah -- I just had to ask -- how did the sons of your germ-warfare-specialist aunt turn out? Vivid description there.

    I guess I believe in the "hygiene theory" by default because our house gets a little scary sometimes :haha:

    I notice my kids miss very few days of school. DD (age 7) was on track for perfect attendance last year, until she was in an accident. And then, to add insult to injury, she came home from the ER with a whopper case of bronchitis. I guess from bugs lurking in there.

    Now, when my kids DO get sick, it's usually pretty scary. DS 1 had a 104 degree fever last year, was delirious :eek: I guess bugs must be serious to overwhelm their immune systems, which have had lots of practice -- given their exposure to dogs, cats, poultry, cattle and plenty of dirt.

    I think the main idea is to WASH with something! Anything is better than nothing and I am too cheap to plunk out extra $$$ for antibacterial.