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The FDA announced a ban today on 19 chemicals used in antibacterial soaps and washes. The chemicals, including triclosan (used for liquid soaps) and triclocarban (used for bar soaps), are found in consumer-facing cleansing products and are traditionally marketed as being more effective than plain soap. The FDA says that this isn’t true, and that some of the products could actually be dangerous.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

Some manufacturers have already started removing those chemicals from their products after the agency proposed a rule in 2013 following data that suggested long-term exposure could be risky. Among those risks were a bacterial resistance or hormonal defects. Washing hands with warm water and plain soap remains the best method of preventing germs and illnesses.

Still, the FDA has given manufacturers one year to either remove the chemicals from their products or else take them off the market. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that if soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Source: FDA Press Release