An alternative to normal antibacterial soaps

Velma had been trying to get me to stop using antibacterial soap for a while. For starters, some of the main bacteria-fighting ingredients in these soaps, such as Triclosan, can create dioxins, chloroform gas, and have other harmful effects. Triclosan may also be harmful to downstream inhabitants we humans so often forget. There is also an argument that regular use of antibacterial agents may cause some bacteria to evolve resistance, making one susceptible to “superbugs” that can’t be beaten by our normal treatments.

My counter-argument has always been that there are some things you occasionally get on your hands that you want every possible weapon in your arsenal to help get off. So maybe you do want to minimize or eliminate your use of antibacterial soaps, not use them for everyday use. But hell, if I’m gonna clean up cat vomit, or wipe dog crap off my boot, or…worse (*shudder*), then I want something just short of an acid dip for afterwards.

Finally I found an alternative product that claims to be antibacterial and protect the environment. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and while I certainly haven’t tested it in any scientific way (sorry, my lab’s been disassembled by government fiat), it seems to clean just as well as your average Dial of SoftSoap. I should note that I’m generally a skeptic when it comes to the claims of so-called “alternative” health and cleaning products, because I’ve tried so many of them over the past 10-15 years and far too many have failed utterly to work in the slightest perceptible way.

CleanWell claims its ingredient Ingenium “kills 99.99% of germs including MRSA (staph), E.Coli, and Salmonella on contact.” The soap is kid-safe (no ingestion risk), and claims to be 100% green, 100% biodegradable, and is not tested on animals. It meets EPA and FDA standards for germ killing efficacy and contains no alcohol, nor the dreaded Triclosan. It’s even made from plants on which no pesticides, irrigation, or fertilizers are used.

CleanWell’s products include hand sanitizer and foaming soap, and it’s still pretty new, just emerging in health food stores and the like. They have a list on their website of stores that carry CleanWell, but use my experience as a guide and call ahead to make sure they have the item you’re looking for. I went to three places looking for the soap and they only carried the hand sanitizer in the first two. I finally tracked it down at Rainbow Grocery in the Mission.

CleanWell makes three soap fragrances: orange vanilla, lavender, and ginger bergamot. The labels peel right off if you want your soap dispenser to look more aesthetic (although I think their packaging design is far superior to most commercial soaps). When Jenny washed her hands at our house recently, she called CleanWell “so refreshing!” So I guess that’s an endorsement ; )

If you’re interested in further reading on the issues, science, and politics surrounding the efficacy of such health and cleaning products, CleanWell’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Larry Weiss writes a blog with voluminous amounts of information aimed at parents, kids, consumers, et al.

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One Comment

  1. Posted April 29, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    That magic, germ killing potion? It’s called “alchohol.”

    Anti-bacterial soaps should have been banned a long time ago. All they do is breed super-germs that one day will kill us all. God forbid you go into a hospital that’s been using them with any kind of open wound. If so, make a will.

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