The End of Antibacterial Soap

The FDA is banning certain chemicals it says may have harmful side effects.

Mariana Bazo / Reuters

NEWS BRIEF The Food and Drug Administration on Friday banned soap companies from using more than a dozen chemicals in antibacterial soaps, citing the possibility they could have harmful side effects.

Regulators also say there is a lack of evidence that soaps with antibacterial chemicals are more effective than soaps without them. The FDA, in a statement, said:

Companies will no longer be able to market antibacterial washes with these ingredients because manufacturers did not demonstrate that the ingredients are both safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.

The new FDA mandate targets two ingredients that are widely used: triclosan and triclocarban, reports the Associated Press. Previous animal research has shown those chemicals can encourage drug-resistant bacteria and affect hormone levels.

The FDA has scrutinized the soaps for years. In December 2013, the FDA proposed that companies prove their soap products were safe and more effective than plain soap. A study in November 2014 linked the chemical triclosan to tumor growth.

According to the FDA, some companies are already removing the chemicals from their products. The FDA has not yet ruled on hand sanitizers. While some use antibacterial chemicals, many of them use alcohol instead.