Plain Soap Does The Job Just As Well As Antibacterial Soap for Hand Washing

hand Interview with:
Min Suk Rhee, Ph.D.
Professor Department of Biotechnology
Department of Food Bioscience & Technology
College of Life Sciences & Biotechnology
Korea University Seoul Korea 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Min Suk Rhee: In December 2013, the US FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) proposed an amendment that manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps intended for use with water must demonstrate that they are safer and more effective than plain soap. As triclosan is the most common active antiseptic ingredient used in soap and its potential risk remains controversial, we investigated the effectiveness of antibacterial soap containing triclosan 0.3% from in vitro and in vivo experiment.

The main finding of this study is that presence of antiseptic ingredients (in this case, triclosan) in soap does not always guarantee higher antimicrobial efficacy during hand washing.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Min Suk Rhee: We’d like to suggest that it is more important for people to wash their hands correctly and frequently rather than to use the antibacterial soaps containing triclosan. Clinicians have to notice the recommended standard method of hand washing to patients.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Min Suk Rhee: It might be helpful to investigate the effectiveness of other antiseptic ingredients in soap.


A. Kim, H. Moon, K. Lee and M.S. Rhee. Bactericidal effects of triclosan in soap both in vitro and in vivo. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, September 2015 DOI: 10.1093/jac/dkv275

[wysija_form id=”5″] is not a forum for the exchange of personal medical information, advice or the promotion of self-destructive behavior (e.g., eating disorders, suicide). While you may freely discuss your troubles, you should not look to the Website for information or advice on such topics. Instead, we recommend that you talk in person with a trusted medical professional.

The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Min Suk Rhee, Ph.D. (2015). Plain Soap Does The Job Just As Well As Antibacterial Soap for Handwashing 

Last Updated on September 17, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD