are antibacterial soaps good for my child?

child washing hands - antibacterial soaps


It’s the most germ filled time of the year! Well, that may not be entirely accurate, but it flows nicely to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”; and germs are plentiful this time of year, so we took a little poetic license. The point is that winter is here. A time spent huddled together indoors spreading good cheer and germs of all sorts.

Being the good parents we are, we tell our children to cover their coughs and sneezes. We teach them to aim for their inner elbow, but we know many coughs and sneezes go into their hands …. or directly into the air. And let’s face it, tissues aren’t always handy and those noses need to be wiped somehow.

Now that you have those images in your mind, let’s talk about hand washing. We tell our kids to wash their hands constantly and that is in fact great advice. But what are our kids using to wash their hands?

It’s become common for most places to provide antibacterial soap. Sounds great doesn’t it? A little rub-a-dub-dub with that magic formula and all the bacteria gets washed away! Wait a minute. Not so fast! Science doesn’t exactly back that up.

The active ingredient often found in antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers is called Triclosan. It was first used in 1972 by surgeons. That same year, Congress instructed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish guidelines for the use of antibacterials in soaps. As of 2017, this quote is found on the FDA website: “FDA is undertaking a review of active ingredients used in a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) antiseptic rubs and wash products.”

In 1978 the FDA said Triclosan was “not generally recognized as safe and effective.” Also, a 2011 study by E. M. Clayton found that children who had greater amounts of Triclosan in their system were more likely to suffer from asthma and allergies. This might be in response to antibacterials killing both harmful and beneficial bacteria. The children’s immune systems actually became weaker.

What’s a parent to do? Teach your children to wash their hands with plain soap and water. It has been found to be just as effective as antibacterials in killing harmful bacteria.

Helpful Tip:

If your child is asked to bring hand sanitizer to school, here is a recipe to make a Triclosan-free version. Blend 3 drops of liquid grapefruit seed extract (GSE) with each ounce of aloe vera gel. Place it in a plastic dispenser.

(Caution: full strength GSE is very acidic so be careful to avoid getting it on your skin.)

Have questions Feingold approved soaps or washes? Our website is full of helpful information or feel free to call us at 1-631-369-9340 (EST).