what is the purpose of non-antibacterial/normal hand soap?


Does it help kill some germs? Does antibacterial soap yield “superbugs” to survive after killing 99.99% of germs, thus should only be reserved for specific applications (like hospitals)?

In: Biology

Not all applications require aggressive anti-bacterial properties. Cleaning off dirt or grease or motor oil or paint isn’t really a biohazard problem so much as a solvent problem, and other soaps might do the job better and/or with less of a drying effect on your skin.

Antibacterial soaps don’t poison bacteria like antibiotics do, it dissolves them like acid.

You can evolve a resistance to poisons over time by altering cell chemistry, but there’s not really a good way to evolve a resistance to getting chemically dissolved.

Not sure what the non-antibacterial soap bit means. But, hand gels (alcohol ones) kill bacteria by literally destroying the microbes. However, bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics because it only requires one gene, so natural selection will root out that gene quite quick. Becoming resistant to alcohol antiseptic would be a lot harder. It would require the fundamental nature of the microbe to change, and that takes a long time, even for a short lifespan organism like a bacteria.

I think normal soap is meant to just kill the basic germs that are more likely to get you sick. Antibacterial soap is typically used for dishes and in restaurants because they need to be sure they get the majority of the bacteria off of their hands. Antibacterial soap is meant to reduce any and every type of bacteria to as little as possible, good or bad. It’s hard to explain but hopefully this helped a little.

Bacteria have a special oily layer called a cell membrane surrounding them to protect them. It’s like their skin. Water and oil don’t mix. When you rinse the bacteria with water, the water bounces off the oil.

Soap is a special molecule. It has two hands. One hand holds oil. The other holds water. This allows the soap to grab the bacteria with one hand and water with the other hand. Then the running water rips open the bacteria. It’s like if someone poured a bunch of glue on your body and ripped it off. If your skin was completely ripped off, your organs would fall out and you’d die.

Antibacterial soaps use a few other methods to kill bacteria too. It’s like flaying someone alive and also shooting them in the head, and also setting them on fire, and also stabbing them in the heart… This is why studies have found that antibacterial soaps are no more effective than regular soap. You can’t make a bacteria extra dead.

The FDA decided to ban antibacterial soaps for consumer use a few years ago, but they still allowed it in hospitals. Now they haven’t found any data that says triclosan (a major antibacterial soap ingredient) works in hospital settings either, so they banned it in hospitals too.

So the purpose of non-antibacterial soap is to kill bacteria. Antibacterial soap is no better at killing bacteria and has the risk of creating superbugs. Plus, there is a chance it causes cancer. So it’s been banned.