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Antibac soap no better than regular handwash

Antibac soap no better than regular handwash

While we all know how important it is to wash our hands to get rid of germs, what we use to do so is up for debate. In recent years many of us have started using antibacterial handwashes and soaps, but new research has found that they are no better at killing germs than regular suds.

Antibacterial soaps claimed to have a better result in ridding our skin of unwanted bacteria thanks to a chemical ingredient called triclosan. But restrictions might be put in place on the chemical after studies linked it to antibiotic resistance and hormone problems and prompted a safety review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

On top of this, a study by the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy reports that there is “no significant difference" between the bactericidal effects of plain soap and antibacterial soap when washing our hands normally.

In fact, the agent only became effective after microbes had been soaked in it for nine hours.

“At times less than six hours, there was little difference between the two [soaps]," the researchers wrote in the Journal regarding their tests.

To evaluate triclosan's germ-killing abilities, the team placed antibacterial soap and the regular variety into Petri dishes with 20 dangerous bacteria strains, including E.coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella.

The samples were heated to 22 or 40 degrees Celsius, which simulated exposure to warm or hot water for 20 seconds which is the advised duration for hand-washing given by the World Health Organisation.

To wash your hands properly with whatever soap you choose, start by wetting your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), then turn off the tap and apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water then dry them using a clean towel or air dry them.

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