FDA: No More ‘Antibacterial’ Soap

SUNBURY -- The Food and Drug Administration announced on Friday the ingredients that make hand soaps and body washes "antibacterial" must be removed.

The FDA says those ingredients do little to nothing to make soap work better, and it is now making companies take those ingredients out of hand soaps and body washes and take the word "antibacterial" off the label.

At Custom Care Pharmacy in downtown Sunbury, there is a row of hand soaps and body washes, but only a few of those products claim to be "antibacterial."

"A lot of the market has changed and not nearly as many people ask for those products as they used to," said pharmacist John Rosinski. "They're probably changing the ingredients or they've lost the market place and the demand just isn't what they thought it would be."

The FDA is giving companies a year to make the change. Joseph Walker of Sunbury is skeptical.

"I would think it would affect me in a way that wouldn't be the best because then you're not getting clean," Walker said.

Walker's wife Kimberly recently had surgery, and her doctor told her to use Dial soap.

"They said after the operation to keep using that because it had the antibacterial in it," she said.

But Bonnie Snyder of Sunbury isn't too worried.

"It doesn't bother me. I feel if a person keeps themselves clean and uses a soap, I don't see that it needs to be antibacterial," she said.

The pharmacist at Custom Care recommends the method that's tried and true: washing your hands with soap and water for about 30 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol in it.

"Nothing's as good as the old-fashioned remedies. Nothing's changing, just the way the companies market the products," said Rosinski.

The FDA is also reviewing hand sanitizers and products used by hospitals.


  • FDA Approved

    Some time ago I read an article that said that using just soap was the way to go; no need for antibacterial soap. Soap exfolliates the skin taking the nasty germs with it. I myself still like to use hand sanitizer on a regular basis; especially when out an about shopping or when visiting in a nursing home or hospital. Thank God we have FDA, perhaps this is money motivated, but on the whole we should be grateful they are here to inspect our food. Now that more companies are relocating to the other countries it scares me to think what is being shipped in that is being processed without the guidelines of the FDA.

  • Patrick Movsessian

    One novel agent that can be added to regular soap is
    delmopinol hydrochloride which is an antiadhesive agent. Bacteria create something called biofilm which is a bacterial glue. Agents like delmopinol hydrochloride can break down bacterial biofilm and breaking bacteria loose from skin without killing them. This will not activate resistance mechanisms in bacteria so it should work. .This will work synergistically with the soap’s cleaning action.
    delmopinol hydrochloride has been used in mouthwashes but the bitter aftertaste has made it unpopular but as a soap additive, that is not a concern.

    • katiesuebaron

      I agree 100%. They sicker Americans are, the more drugs/health products that are needed, and therefore more money in their pockets. It’s so sad they’re willing to trade people’s health for a few more dollars in their bank accounts.

      • In Da Valley

        So your arguing that you want to keep chemicals in your soap that are shown as ineffective and bad for the environment, but then are saying the drug / health products companies want to keep you sick so they make more money?

    • cheeseburger_walrus

      Frequent use of antibacterial soap means that bacteria is given the chance to adapt, meaning the antibacterial ingredients become less effective over time. A similar reason is why there’s all these antibiotic-resistant infections that pop up (like MRSA) because bacteria can quickly develop resistance to antibiotics, especially when they are widely overused.

      The mechanism of washing your hands (and body) is more of a “mechanical” action, meaning you are physically removing dirt, grime, germs, etc. from your hands, rather than actually killing any bacteria.

      • kevin

        You are an idiot. Antibiotics are not the same as antibacterial solutions.

        They work in 2 completely different ways. And antibacterial solutions are not causing bacterial resistance. Idiot.

  • katiesuebaron

    When my son was a toddler he had a medical condition that weakened his immune system and he was on blood thinners while also fighting multiple infections, and it was so important to make sure our home and bodies had as few germs as possible, what will people going through that use now?
    And I have a one-month old, every mom I know with a small baby carries hand sanitizer, what about that? Is that included? Or is it only a handful of antibacterials? This ruling by the FDA makes NO sense to me.

      • katiesuebaron

        John, I’m guessing you don’t have kids. We were lucky, our son got better and he’s healthy now, but when he first got sick we spent a month at Geisinger’s Janet Weiss Children’s Hospital, and you wouldn’t believe half the stuff we saw. There are multiple areas in the pediatric wing, like one for kids who needed long-term care, like kids with cancer, and there’s the PICU, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, for kids who are in critical condition. We met kids with NO immune system, who you had to wear a special suit and face mask just to talk, you couldn’t even shake their hand because all it would take was one bad illness and they could die.
        Yes, I believe antibiotics and antibacterials are over-used, and they contribute to these super bugs that nothing kills, but you need to understand there also people and families who genuinely need them, children who’s lives are at risk because of something that might not even make you or I sick.
        The FDA approves drugs they know can kill you or have severe side effects, but they choose to ban ANTIBACTERIAL SOAP??? Why, do they lose money because people get less sick? Because that’s the only reason I can see. They need to stop wasting their time on soap and start doing their jobs.

    • Robert

      I would hope under that circumstance or similar one’s a doctor would be involved and provide prescriptions.
      I don’t think the spirit was to compromise those that have a real need.
      For most folks, nature has a “Use it or Loose it” policy. That I’m convinced applies to a HEALTHY immune system.
      Risking our Species survival on a UBER capitalistic venture is (IMO) foolish, and in this rare case I applaud a government decision. WoW, that actually hurt!

  • Christina Woodruff

    Of course Snyder isn’t worried, she doesn’t have a medical condition to contend with. Without antibacterial soaps I’m looking at either paying for a prescription for them, or risking tons of bladder infections which I am already prone to.

  • burtfan16

    You have to love the FDA. How many years have these type of products been on the market and now they want them pulled? Remember this is the same organization that approves a drug and then five years down the road pulls it because people who are taking it are starting to die. Yet they won’t have anything to do with approving vitamins or supplements…..interesting.

    • cheeseburger_walrus

      Was MRSA as widespread years ago as it is today? No, and part of the reason is that over time, nasty bacteria like that can develop resistance to antibacterial ingredients and antibiotics. Overusing antibiotics/antibacterials just makes this issue even worse. The FDA is just modifying their rules according to actual scientific studies.

      There’s also no compelling scientific data that suggests vitamins/supplements have significant positive health benefits, so of course they won’t approve them.

      • burtfan16

        I’ve been prescribed to take certain vitamins by my physician. Not to mention there’s pharmaceuticals out there that have no significant benefits. However, if Big Pharma says they do….than they do.

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