Antibacterial Madness

I have a tendency to ponder those little things in life.  Here is a little thing that I don’t think SHOULD be so little.  Our family aims to avoid anti-bacterial soaps.  However, they are everywhere, right?  Why are they everywhere?  Because the media has once again done their job to scare the pants off of consumers, especially moms!  Germs—beware!

Let’s go back to basic biology.  We learned that our skin is actually our largest organ. 


This very large organ is VERY VERY handy at absorption.  That means, what we put on our skin is immediately taken into our body and becomes a part of us! 

Many people, including my former self, were unaware of this connection.  Look at what you slather on your skin over the course of a day –

  • shampoo
  • soap
  • lotion
  • makeup
  • hairspray/gel
  • lip balm
  • perfume….

Organisms that are a natural part of us are bacteria.  Many of these beneficial bacteria reside on our skin and in our guts.  Here is an article that even talks about our NEED for bacteria on our skin.

In our minds, though, bacteria conjur up a scary picture.  So to wash off these scary things we use high powered soaps and detergents—many of which include antibacterial agents or chemicals.  (Before you or your child takes a medicine, don’t you want to know what the implications are?)  The main ingredient in many antibactieral soaps is triclosan.  The FDA has been ‘studying’ the safety of triclosan since 2010—and still has not released its findings on this study. The Natural Resources Defense Council offered this info on their blog.

[Funny, but not really, that we allow the free use of these drugs/chemicals into products before we study their effectiveness and safety of use.]  The New York Times did a great article on this just last year—and even report how triclosan is used in some brands of toothpaste!

Also, if your home utilizes a septic system, your families use of these antibacterial soaps is also killing the beneficial bacteria that are a part of that system.

 – From:

  • For septic system owners, anti-bacterial soaps can cause big problems for both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria: it kills them! Bacteria are the key component that breaks down organic waste in both aerobic and anaerobic septic systems. Killing them off essentially stops the system’s processes that break down organic wastes and can lead to problems such as odor, sluggish flow and more frequent pumping on one end of the problem spectrum to backup and system failure at the other extreme.

Even if you are on a public sewer system, keep in mind that all waste is treated and released back into the environment in one way or another.  Some treated sewage goes back into our waterways, other sludge will get spread on farmers’ fields as a fertilizer for animal feed.  Therefore this cycling of nutrients is directly putting antibacterial poisons back into our drinking and food supplies.  That is a connection many of us overlook.  Let’s cut down on these unstudied, likely unsafe, antibacterial agents.

Finally, did you know that ANY liquid soap (think: shampoos, hand soap, hand gel, liquid laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent) has to have some kind of preservative in it.  Most of these are not benign (sodium benzoate, methyl paraben, and ethyl paraben, etc).  These ingredients have been tagged as hormone and endocrine disruptors (tend to mimic estrogen hormone and might be implicated in increased cancer risks).  Instead of dousing with daily chemicals, try to source soaps with natural preservatives like salts, rosemary or grapefruit extract or lemon oil!  Or avoid liquid soaps and make a return to the bar!

Categories: Family, Health | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Antibacterial Madness

  1. Pingback: Antibacterial Soaps | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page

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