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What is Antibacterial Liquid Soap?

Mary McMahon
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Antibacterial liquid soap is a form of liquid soap which includes ingredients which are designed to fight bacteria. The efficacy of the soap can vary, depending on the ingredients and how it is used, with some killing up to 99% of bacteria, while others tend to be less robust. Many drug stores and markets carry antibacterial liquid soap, and it is also possible to obtain it from medical suppliers, or to make it at home, for people who are comfortable and familiar with soap making.

People use antibacterial liquid soap on their hands and bodies because they are concerned about the spread of bacteria, or because they want to prevent bacterial infections. In the case of handwashing, the soap reduces the number of bacteria on the hands, making it difficult to spread bacteria through direct contact or the handling of shared objects like doorknobs. On the body, antibacterial liquid soap can prevent Staphylococcus infections of the skin, and it is sometimes used to manage skin conditions like acne and sunburn.

Many hospitals utilize antibacterial liquid soap for handwashing because of the large numbers of germs which are naturally present, and increased concerns about the risk of spreading disease. Staff typically wash their hands between patients, and after performing tasks which might expose the hands to new bacteria. Schools and other facilities with large numbers of people sharing a space may also stock antibacterial liquid soap in the bathrooms to keep bacterial populations to a minimum.

Some people like to use antibacterial products at home because they are concerned about cleanliness. In fact, the members of a shared household tend to have the same bacteria, so the spread of bacteria is not a major risk unless someone comes home with a bacterial infection which could be spread to other members of the household. For management of skin conditions, however, antibacterial soap can be extremely useful.

The widespread use of antibacterial products has raised some concerns among medical researchers. Some people fear that frequent use breeds resistant bacteria, by killing off organisms which are vulnerable and allowing more virulent organisms to flourish. For this reason, it can be a good idea to change brands frequently so that the bacteria in an area do not become accustomed to a particular type of soap, and to remember to wash thoroughly with running water for at least 30 seconds. For people who don't feel like timing their handwashing, one recitation of the alphabet usually lasts around 30 seconds.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Jul 24, 2011

Of course, we use antibacterial liquid soap in our bathroom. But I also use it as the first step in treating cuts.

If I get a cut while cooking or if my troublemaker cat decides to keep her claws out while playing, I rush to the bathroom and wash that area with liquid soap. I apply an antibacterial creme afterward. Because I do this, my cuts heal real fast and I never get infections.

I think many people don't realize the value of antibacterial soap in first aid. I have friends who keep antibacterial sprays, oxygen water and so forth at home and use it for cuts. But all you need to do is wash with antibacterial soap. It does the same thing.

By SteamLouis — On Jul 24, 2011

I don't know if this is a good idea but I use antibacterial liquid soap to wash my face. I have an acne problem and I read somewhere that acne is caused by bacteria in the skin. Then, I realized that the liquid hand soap I have at home is antibacterial. I started washing my face with it and my skin has gotten better!

I don't know if it has any negative affects in the long term, but it's working really nice for me so far.

By bear78 — On Jul 24, 2011

I've heard that aside from causing viruses to become resistant to antibacterials, too much use of antibacterial liquid soaps are also making children more sensitive and increasing allergies.

The less viruses and bacteria that a child encounters, the more sensitive his or her immunity becomes. So when the child does encounter something outside or at school, allergies and infections develop more quickly than they would naturally.

I think to prevent this from happening, we need to balance our use of antibacterials. Of course, my children have to know the importance of cleanliness and hygiene but I don't want to make them sick by being overprotective. I'm not going to have my kids wash their hands every hour. I just want to make sure that they wash with antibacterial liquid soap when coming home from school and before meals.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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