Do you have a bottle of antimicrobial soap on your sink because you think that it’s the best way to kill 99.99 percent of germs? A little compound called triclosan is the antimicrobial responsible for the germ-killing effects of antimicrobial soaps, and it is also found in a number of personal care products including shampoos and toothpastes. What advertising for these products fails to mention, however, is that overuse of triclosan is contributing the development of super bugs—microbes that are resistant to normal antimicrobials. I have blogged about the harmful effects of triclosan a number of times.

A new study published in the journal mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, researchers found triclosan in the nasal passages of 41 percent of adults sampled. They found that a higher percentage of people with triclosan also had colonization by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus.

“It’s really common in hand soaps, toothpastes, and mouthwashes, but there’s no evidence it does a better job than regular soap,” said Blaise Boles, PhD, senior author. “This agent may have unintended consequences in our bodies. It could promote S. aureus nasal colonization, putting some people at increased risk for infection.”

Antibacterial soap is simply not necessary. If you are in the habit of using it, do your research. Triclosan is overused, and the consequences of its use are far greater than anyone could have imagined. It’s time two switch back to old-fashioned soap and water.