What soap should I use?

Washing hands properly is a very important step in preventing the spread of germs, but is the use of antibacterial soap necessary?

Most of us are conscientious when it comes to washing our hands – we know this practice is the first step to preventing the spread of germs. However, it can be confusing to know what soap to use – antibacterial or plain? Liquid or bar? What about hand sanitizer? To add to the confusion, there is a wide array of choices when it comes to soap – just walk down the aisle of any store and you will notice there seems to be more antibacterial options than plain soap products. This would lead the consumer to believe that antibacterial is better – but not necessarily.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, research has shown that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than plain soap and water when it comes to killing disease-causing germs outside of healthcare settings. In fact, antibacterial soap must be left on your hands for nearly two minutes to effectively kill bacteria. Plain soap can safely be used in non-healthcare settings and is available in stores (just make sure to read the label). Plain soap also tends to be less expensive than antibacterial soaps.

Liquid soap is a better option than bar soap for washing your hands because it is easier to use and doesn’t hold germs as bar soap tends to. Bar soap should never be used in public places or if anyone in your household has a skin infection. Another way to clean your hands is to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizers should not replace washing with warm water and soap, but can be used in the absence of soap and water.

For more information about the pros and cons of antibacterial soap, Michigan State University Extension recommends the following websites:

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