San Francisco Department of the Environment

Does antibacterial soap work better than regular soap?


You do not need anti-bacterial soap for everyday household uses.

For household uses, regular soap is just as effective at killing germs as soap containing triclosan, according to a 2005 Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee. Triclosan is a known pesticide most frequently found in soaps labeled as “antibacterial.”

Choose soap that does not contain triclosan.

Avoid products that are labeled “antibacterial” or look for tricolsan in the ingredients. Choose glycerin, Castile or vegetable-based soaps in bar or liquid form.

Additional Resources

Beyond Pesticides' scientific background information, YouTube presentation, and list of Triclosan-containing products to avoid
Natural Resources Defense Council's antibacterials summary with references
Science News' blog post on Triclosan's environmental fate


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