A researcher has warned that most people use antibacterial soap improperly and, as such, it is not effective and a pointless exercise.
Arizona State University’s Dr Rolf Halden says that antibacterial soap is beneficial in hospitals where people know how to use them, but generally pointless in the average home.
Dr Halden says most people do not wash their hands for long enough to allow the soap to work effectively.
He said that, in order to kill bacteria, people need to wash their hands with antibacterial soap for between 20 to 30 seconds. However, most people wash their hands for an average of six seconds.
As a result, antibacterial soaps will be no more effective than other, non-antibacterial soaps.
The scientist also said that microbes can adapt to antibacterial ingredients in the soaps, meaning they become resistant to the soap.
This could even increase their resistance to antibiotics, making it more difficult for doctors to treat infections, the researcher warns.
The study also found that there is some evidence to suggest that the chemicals in antibacterial soaps can affect our hormone levels.
Over the years the number of products containing the antimicrobial chemicals triclosan and triclocarban has soared. As a result of this, almost 75% of Americans now have the substances in their urine.
The Food and Drug Administration has now begun to regulate the use of antibacterial products.
The chemicals must now be removed from products unless the manufacturers can prove they are both effective and safe for human use.
Dr Halden told Live Science: “The FDA’s move is a prudent and important step toward preserving the efficacy of clinically important antibiotics, preventing unnecessary exposure of the general population to endocrine disrupting and potentially harmful chemicals, and throttling back the increasing release and accumulation of antimicrobials in the environment.”