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October 23, 2002 12:27 PM

Joint Statement from The Soap and Detergent Association and The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association Regarding Proper Perspective Needed on Antibacterial Studies

Antibacterial Hand Soaps, When Properly Used, are Effective at Reducing the Risk of Infection

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Soap and Detergent Association and The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association strongly caution against drawing broad conclusions from a study addressing the use of an antibacterial soap. This study, "Short and Long-term Effects of Handwashing with Antibacterial or Plain Soap in the Community," is being presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America Conference in Chicago this week.

"While we've only had the opportunity to review a brief abstract on this research, the study apparently evaluated overall skin bacteria, and did not examine the differences in effectiveness of an antibacterial product compared to plain soap on transient, or acquired, bacteria. The data appear to show the use of an antibacterial hand soap does not affect the overall normal levels of bacteria found on the hands.

"In fact, this is positive information, since the primary role of antibacterial hand soaps is to kill the transient bacteria that are acquired and which may be transferred following such tasks as preparing food, changing diapers, caring for a sick person, etc., and not to affect or eliminate normal skin bacteria.

"Antibacterial hand soaps, when properly used, are effective at reducing the risk of infection by killing or controlling the growth of harmful transient microorganisms on the skin, as evidenced in their broad use in healthcare.

"The use of antibacterial products has, and continues to be a part of recommended hygiene practices in homes, workplaces, schools and healthcare settings."

You can view more detailed information on the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial products on ACI’s Antibacterial Information page, at