Celebrate Global Handwashing Day By Kicking Antibacterial Soap to the Curb!

October 14, 2016

October 15 is Global Handwashing Day. It’s a day to advocate for and promote the vital role that washing hands with soap plays in protecting health. Handwashing is absolutely essential to an effective green cleaning program, and this day is a wonderful opportunity to educate your school community about handwashing, promote your cleaning program and take stock of the soap you have in inventory.

That’s why we are thrilled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a rule to ban 19 ingredients found in antibacterial soaps earlier this fall. It’s the perfect way to safely celebrate this important day of advocacy!

The decision will ban triclosan, benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol, among other ingredients that have been found to disrupt the hormone cycle and cause muscle weakness through independent testing. In addition, testing found that these ingredients are no more effective than plain soap and water for preventing the spread of illness and germs. The ban will take effect on Sept. 6, 2017.

“Our recommendations for schools has always been to select hand soap that doesn’t contain triclosan,” says Mark Bishop, a member of the Green Clean Schools Leadership Council and one of the creators of the 5 Steps to Green Cleaning in Schools. “None of us want to see soaps containing potentially harmful ingredients like triclosan in schools, and this rule will eliminate that as a concern for a potential source of exposure.”

While most soap manufacturers had already removed triclosan from their soaps when this rule was proposed, we still see this ruling as a victory. It means that manufacturers and regulators are paying attention to the chemical ingredients inside soaps, doing testing that matters, and making sure that we have safe solutions.

Learn more about handwashing as a key infection control element in a green cleaning program in our downloadable guide. This topic will be presented on in depth during a panel discussion on healthy infection control practices at the Green Clean Schools Forum at ISSA/Interclean at the end of the month in Chicago.