The Drama About Soaps

– By Faiza Syed, Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences


Oh, no, Bubloo, don’t play with mud otherwise you’ll get a horrible cold and you’ll end up with a runny nose for the rest of your life… Don’t use ATM machines or swings or cell phones or remote control… in fact, don’t even touch yourself. By the way, did you know that there are more germs on the floor than there are on the toilet seat? Scour your hands with soap like there’s no tomorrow; be sure to do it for ten seconds, otherwise the “trillion” [1] germs on your body will penetrate your body and do what not? This is the kind of exaggeration that our soap commercials present; to me it looks more like a psychological manipulation of our innocent television viewers. 😉

What’s right and what’s not? I’m a part-microbiologist, part-molecular biologist and I got a chunk of data that disagrees with these dramatic soap commercials. Let’s start by telling you guys some things that are totally wrong but are shown as necessary, purely to sell the product.

There was a commercial (not naming the brand, of course) that shows a boy who is playing in the rain and his mother scolds him that he’ll get a cold. Suddenly, a doctor pops out of nowhere and tells them that “Oh changing weather is, like, totally harmless, just use a good antibacterial soap and you’ll be good to go”. TOTALLY wrong! Changing weather is one of the reasons we get colds. [2]

Washing your hands with soap – nice good habit, keeps the germs away. BUT there’s a catch to it. Notice that every authentic website such as PubMed Health [3], WHO [4] and FDA [5] state that proper hand washing with soap and water is sufficient enough to kill germs. They don’t exactly say ‘anti-bacterial soap’, do they? So, this means that if you’re not related with the health care profession, a simple soap is just quite enough to keep you safe from most of the germs that we encounter in our homes.

Still not convinced? Well then, there’s more to the antibacterial soap dilemma. Recent studies suggest that certain chemicals, that are an integral part of anti-bacterial soaps, lead to dry skin, eczema (painful skin allergic reaction), and negative effects on the immune system, meaning the immune system doesn’t work the way it should. Especially, young children are more prone to get allergic reactions by using anti-bacterial soaps. [6], [7]


Don’t blame the trillion bacterial cells on your skin. They are actually protective. By occupying almost every inch of your skin, these harmless bacteria prevent any germs landing onto your skin. If you kill these innocent little bacteria by using anti-bacterial soaps, you allow the nasty ones to grow on your skin due to the available space. [8]

The Conclusion . . . . . . ?

Simple! Wash your hands ‘properly’ with a soap and wash your hands ‘regularly’.







[6] University of Michigan (2010). Antibacterial soaps: Being too clean can make people sick, study suggests. ScienceDaily.




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