Why our soap is not antibacterial

Mom and child washing hands

At Nature Lake, our soap is not antibacterial. Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t.

Antibacterial soap was all the rage a decade ago. It was touted as superior to regular soap, a powerful weapon capable of neutralizing much of the bacteria that can make us and our families, sick. Consumers could find it in hand soap, liquid hand soap, body wash, dishwashing liquid and even laundry detergent. We were keeping our families free from harmful bacteria and germs. That was good, right? Well, as it turns out, not so much. In recent years, we’ve learned antibacterial soap isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Not by a longshot. The FDA recommends people stop using it, and use plain soap and water instead. Here’s why.

FDA concerns. Back in 2013, the FDA became concerned about the claims of antibacterial soap manufacturers touting their products as superior to non-antibacterial soaps. They asked manufacturers for clinical evidence of those claims. They received none. So, in 2017, the FDA ruled that 24 antibacterial ingredients, including TCS and TCC (triclosan and triclocarban), could not be sold in over-the-counter consumer products without approval. This basically banned them.

Antibiotic resistance. Here’s the great irony of antibacterial soaps. They were intended to kill germs and make us safer and healthier. But, in effect, they did the opposite. That’s because they didn’t kill ALL the bacteria. Only the strongest, mutant bacteria survived. That bacteria can reproduce and create “superbugs” that are antibiotic resistant. The FDA points to TCS as the culprit here, the agent that helps create bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Harvard calls this a “major public health concern.”

Other health concerns. In addition to antibiotic resistance, the FDA warns that, not only are antibacterial soaps no more effective than soap and water, but the long term use of the product could damage people’s health. These include increased food allergies. Why? Exposure to bacteria allows the immune system to react to potential allergens rather than overreacting to them. Columbia University reports that the EPA fact sheet on TCS states the human health risks being “allergies, hormone effects, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and carcinogenicity.” Ouch.

It’s bad for the environment. When you wash your hands or dishes with antibacterial soap, it all goes down the drain, where it impacts algae in aquatic ecosystems. TCS has been discovered in fish and dolphins. It disrupts aquatic life in much the same way it disrupts ours, by changing the native bacteria in our streams, rivers and oceans.

At Nature Lake, we’re based in Minnesota, which you may have heard is called the Land of 10,000 Lakes. In fact, there are more lakes than that here, including the magnificent Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world. We’re also home to the headwaters of the Mississippi River. We are deeply protective of our waterways, rivers, lakes and our inland sea.

That’s why we don’t use antibacterial ingredients. We formulate our tablet-based cleaning products specifically to place no pressure on our local water resources, and without harmful chemicals that can impact yours.

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