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FDA Bans Antibacterial Soaps

Sep 6th 2016

Fear is a potent marketing tool. Consider how a Listerine advertising campaign in the 1920s literally turned bad breath into a disease (and sold a ton of mouthwash along the way) or the run on potassium iodide in North America after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.

Then there are antibacterial soaps and body washes, which have targeted—and arguably created—a widespread fear of disease-causing bacteria lurking on every surface of our homes and bodies. Sales of antibacterial soap skyrocketed during the 2009 H1N1 flu sale and have stayed strong since, as brands marketed their antibacterials as scientifically proven to clean better than the stuff you used to keep by your sink.

But that's not reality.

The problem was there wasn’t ever really any science there. For years, researchers have been trying to convince consumers that soap and water does just as good a job as antibacterial products when it comes to protecting you from disease. Worse, some of the antibacterial chemicals have proven ill effects: They contribute to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria, cause health problems by destroying helpful bacteria that live on our bodies, and have the potential to disrupt our hormones. And after they flow down our drains, they cause environmental damage to animals and plants.

(C&L Soaps does not use chemical antibacterial agents in our products. All our antimicrobial soaps use natural essential oils like Tea Tree and Frankincense instead.)

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