In a previous blog, we talked about all of the toxins conventional cleaners bring into your home environment, but how about soap? After all, what could be wrong with good ‘ol soap? It cleans up dirt and germs, so how could that be a bad thing?
Regular soaps often contain chemicals in the form of artificial fragrance and colors. With so many toxins in our environment, do you really want to add more chemicals in the soap you use to clean yourself?
Many people don’t realize that antimicrobial soaps have been around since the 1950’s. Back then, however, they were marketed as “deodorant soaps” that killed the germs that caused body odor. Bar soap brands like Lifebouy and Dial are made of the same ingredients as today’s liquid antibacterial soaps that make the marketing claim they will kill germs on contact.
Antimicrobial soaps contain mostly water, a surfactants, which generate foam, and active ingredients that “kill” bacteria. Soaps commonly use one of a few active ingredients including 3,4,4-trichlorocarbanalide (a.k.a. triclocarban) and 2-hyroxy 2’,4,4’-trichlorodiphenyl (also known as triclosan).
Triclosan & Triclocarban
Triclosan is most commonly found in liquid antibacterial soap, while triclocarban is the active ingredient in antibacterial and deodorant bar soaps. The EPA has registered both chemicals as pesticides, and they have a chemical structure is similar to many hazardous agents including dioxins, PCBs, and even Agent Orange.
These two ingredients have been related to many health problems including:
- The chemicals react with chlorine in tap water to produce dioxins. Dioxins are neurotoxins that can cause cancer, nerve disorders, and immune system disorders.
- The chemicals are endocrine disrupters, blocking thyroid hormone metabolism and attaching to hormone receptors to block hormones.
- According to the EPA, the chemicals can cause developmental and reproductive toxicity.
- They are carcinogens.
- They contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria that causes infection in humans.
- According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC), in surveys of the American population between the ages of 6 and 65, 75 percent have residues of triclosan in their systems.
You can absorb these toxic chemicals through your skin. In fact, the NDRC reports one study discovered higher levels of triclosan in the breast milk of nursing mothers using antibacterial soaps and other personal care products containing the ingredients. It makes me shudder to think of babies with their immature immune systems consuming these chemicals in their mothers’ milk.
Triclosan and triclocarban are ingredients in many other antimicrobial products, as well, including cutting boards, dish detergent, antibacterial sponges, and many others. If you see them listed as ingredients, don’t buy the product.
One of the chief arguments you’ve most likely heard against antibacterial soaps is their potential to generate antibiotic resistance. While these products alone aren’t the only culprit in allowing bacteria to mutate in order to resist antibiotics, they play a large role along with other factors such as antibiotic overuse. It is estimated antibiotic resistance kills about 60,000 hospitalized people in the United States every year.
Use of such toxic soaps also means that the active chemicals will wind up in the soil and ground water. Triclosan and triclocarban don’t degrade. They remain in the environment for centuries after their use.
Worse, people are being sold a bill of goods when it comes to antibacterial soap. Studies show that the soaps are no more effective than washing with regular soap and hot water because the time they remain in contact with the skin is too short for any benefit. That means we’re polluting the environment and harming our health so that soap companies can sell more product and a higher price by making marketing claims that are, at best, shaky and at worst, deadly.
I know that you want clean hands, clean dishes, and a clean home. The thing is, even when you use antimicrobial compounds in your home, germs remain and that’s a good thing. Living in an environment that contains germs is what builds your immune system. That doesn’t mean I’m telling you not to wash up or eat some grapes without washing your hands after cutting up a raw chicken but you should be smart about what you use when you wash your hands, your face, and the rest of your body in order to avoid toxic build up of dangerous chemicals. Here are some alternatives.
- Try a natural soap like Sally B’s hand soap. It is my fave with a great lemongrass scent, and I keep one in the kitchen as well as in the bathroom
- Select soaps that have been scented with essential oils, not chemicals
- Change conventional shampoos for a natural shampoo such as one by Ojon Ultra Hydrating Shampoo
But What About Germs?
Good news. You don’t need to use toxic soap to build up a resistance to germs. Instead, when you eat a healthy, detoxifying diet such as the one outlined in The Beauty Detox Solution, you are strengthening your immune system, making it much more likely that when you are exposed to germs, you will not get sick. Other tips for supporting immunity:
- Drink my immunity tea
- Take probiotics daily
- Eat Probiotic & Enzyme salad
- Minimize your intake of hormone and antibiotic laden animal proteins such as chicken and beef
- Eat organic produce
- Eliminate dairy products and conventional eggs, which contain hormones and antibiotics
- Avoid taking antibiotics unless you absolutely have to
- Implement the Glowing Green Smoothie Diet as a part of your daily routine
Thank you for the post, very helpful! What do you recommend for times you are away from home, such as public restrooms, restaurants, etc? Do you bring your own soap? Thanks!
Interesting. Yes, their are unnatural chemicals in our standard soap today, But what doesn’t doesn’t contain some form of chemicals in them, nowadays? Personally, I don’t believe using regular antibacterial soap is of any Significant harm to one’s health, or at least, any amount of harm worth worrying over if your not able to afford, or otherwise, obtain natural soap.
I love the book and I must say that lemon water in the morning is the best. Ever since I have brought and read the book, I personally feel good. I have made many changes to my daily routine.Thank you so much.
I have couple of question. Please can you help answer them.
How can you get rid of stretch marks?
How can you get rid of dark circles under your eyes?
Are Del Monte Fruit Cups good for you?
Do I need to exfoliate? If so, how often and with what? Is it risky to exfoliate everyday?
What is the best way to treat acne?
I too follow Kimberly Snyder’s way of eating. She has changed my life! I wanted to answer some of your qs by sharing my experience with you. I look alot at youtube videos on skin, detox, clean eating, raw eating. I have been interested in improving my skin as much as I can because I have had acne for years. Now that I do all that Kimberly suggests the acne is gone. But something I had not been doing until recently is increasing my fruit. I learned about the lymph system through youtube. Kimberly got me started of course but I somehow missed the importance of a healthy lymph system. The lymph system rids your body of toxins and waste. What moves the lymph? Fruit and exercise. Why would this help the skin? Trust me, it does!!!! My skin has reached new levels because of learning about lymph. According to what I learned, lymph is a fluid that travels in pathways under your skin. It collects your body’s ‘trash’ and delivers it to safe pathways for elimination. If your lymph is not moving properly, it shows up in the skin such as acne, dark circles, etc. So how do you eat more fruit with kimberly snyder’s diet? I am a busy woman and struggled with it. Finally, I figured out that my vitamix blender is the key. You need acid, subacid, and melons. But you do not want to improperly combine them either! See Kimberly’s book to learn about food combining or look it up on youtube. I buy frozen organic blueberries and keep them stocked in my freezer. Everyday I blend 3/4 c with either a banana or orange. Sometimes i will eat banana blended with strawberries ( keep the strawberry greens for your fruit smoothie they are good for you too!) These fruits do not all combine well together all at once. Learn about the combining methods! You may want a bit of stevia in your smoothie to balance the tartness.
So I eat the smoothie as a mid morning snack after ggs(ggs everyday is a must!) or 30 before my lunch salad or dinner. My skin improved beyond what I hoped for!
Another thing I do is soak a bit of pumkin seeds overnight wash well and sprinkle over a lunch or dinner salad. Include organic cucumbers unpeeled as a major component in your diet as well. These two foods are high in zinc which is very important for your skin to glow.
Finally, I learned that people who eat all or mostly raw can heal in ways never before thought possible. Think stretch marks! Raw eating is fantastic, but I think it’s important to incorporate Kimberlys suggestions with it. Soak and wash your grains, seeds, and nuts, and do not combine food improperly. I eat almost all raw, but I try to be balanced about it. Sometimes I just can’t do it.
So to recap, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, cucumbers are your new best friends!!!! Exercise, GGS, Raw whole foods, food combining, soak those grains, seeds, and nuts…Hope this helps. 🙂
I use puresoapworks.com – They are great!
Also, I’ve noticed that I react to your probiotic enzyme salad. I am dealing with a nasty parasite… is the fermentation the problem? Or what do you suggest other wise?
Also… love your book! It’s all sticky-ed noted. =)
Hi Kim! Interesting read. Have you tired DermOrganic’s hair products? You might like them… i was hooked after the first time i tired them and have been using their shampoo and conditioner for over a year now. Leaves your hair feeling amazing! Check em out when you get a chance.
OK i have been slowly following your diet! A GGS everday and i eat about 90% Vegan raw and this has been my first winter in my entire life basically where i have not caught a cold or the flu (even the noro virus/stomach flu i get every year!) No shots or anything…. every year i catch the flu regardless if i get the shot or not, my husband, my coworkers everyone go it, except for me! I swear by your diet now!! Also my skin cleared up!
guess i better start cleaning up my cleaning!
Check out on face book “Good Clean Soap” they seem pretty good! 🙂
Christine, I have had the same experience with the program – no flu/cold and better skin. Isn’t it wonderful?
Kim – I have a question regarding the GSS: I finally bought a Vitamix after drinking too many “chunky” smoothies (wow, what a difference!) and now I put a whole peeled lemon in my GSS instead of just the juice. Is that ok? I like the extra lemony taste and I think I read somewhere that the pith contains some nutrients. Thank you!
What do you think about the “Lush” brand? It is marketed as natural, homeade cosmetics, soaps, and shampoos?
I love the post:) I’m such a fan of your’s and refer to your book almost all the time for inspiration, ideas, and of course, recipes. I implemented Green Smoothies into my diet four years ago, and haven’t looked back since, so when your book came out, I was elated that someone else shared the passion of the green goo:)
I know that you recommend a probiotic supplement, and after going off dairy I don’t eat yogurt so I supplement with a probiotic, but am not really happy with the results. What brand do you like best? I would like to know what works best in your opinion. Thanks!
You are awesome Kim, thank you for all that you do!
I love love love reading through your posts and receiving such amazing and motivational news!
Kim – great article. Could you write an article about safe alternatives to laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent? What products do you recommend? After I run the washing machine and dishwasher, I don’t open the washing machine lid or the dishwasher for about a day, so that hopefully a lot of the toxins from the detergents will not get in the air.
Kim, I think i’m addicted to NuNaturals Stevia! I have about 5 drops in every cup of tea I have – which is about 7 on a regular day, maybe more. Should I be worried that there might not be enough scientific studies to prove that stevia has no harming effect on the body? How much stevia do you take each day?
Keep in mind that Stevia is a processed food. Stevia in it’s natural form is a green plant. It is taken through several chemical processes to turn it into a white powder or clear liquid. Think about it. How healthy can it be? NOT!
I use Kirk’s original Coco Castile soap for my face and in the shower. I also use it to shampoo my hair. The ingredients include coconut soap, water, vegetable glycerin, coconut oil, natural fragrance. I like how it feels and it’s a little over $4 for 3 bars at Kroger grocery store.
On a related note. I have been using soap nuts for washing clothes and the dishwasher. They are berries that come from Nepal or India. The berries can be used in a little cotton sack or make a liquid by boiling the berries in water. The liquid is better in the dishwasher and when washing sheets. The sack of berries can get twisted in the sheets and stain the sheets. This doesn’t seem to be a problem with regular loads. I make a small batch of liquid and put it in the refrigerator. The liquid will spoil if left out for extended time. The nuts themselves have kind of an unpleasant odor but clothes come out smelling fresh. You can save water as well because with soap nuts you don’t need a rinse cycle.
I bought 2 lbs. of soap nuts for $36 in April of 2010 and I have a little bit over 1/2 lb. left. So, I haven’t had to buy laundry detergent or dishwasher soap for 2 years.
I want to thank you, Kimberly for introducing me to coconut oil. I’ve been using it on my skin, hair, teeth and gums, and a little under the arms as deodorant. I also use it in cooking.
I thinking about buying a water ionizer from Chanson Water USA. I can’t wait to use the low PH water (acid water) for all my cleaning needs and skin tonning. super acid water can kill any germ on the planet. Btw, do you have an opinion on alkaline water ionizers? Base on my research the body thrives in a slightly alkaline state and the green leafy vegetables like the ones in the GGS helps promote a alkaline body. Did you know that most of the filter water in stores is acidic maybe neutral at best..but electrically charged (ionized) alkaline water has a high PH and very high antioxidant levels. I can’t really compare the water antioxidants (ORP) to food and supplement antioxidants (ORAC) but from what I’ve studied it seems that one cup of ionized water can have more antioxidants than a cup of orange juice.
Hi….. In India what some people(like my father and uncles) do is to put water in a pure copper water pot(very easily available) while going to sleep and drink that water first thing in the morning (abt 1 ltr) this water is believed to be ionised.
but this should not be put on any conductor surface and while handling it( pouring or drinking) one should wear sleepers as human body is also a good conductor .. 🙂
Hi Kim, informative article however I think the title should read ” Why [Commercial] Soaps can be hazardous to your health.” Good info though.
I recently made a comment on one of your food posts about palm oil. Have never heard anything good or bad about it.
After reading this article on soap, I checked by natural soap label and there is was again. If it’s not good for me not only am I eating it in my peanut butter, I’m rubbing it all over my body in my soap.
in India some brown color berries were used for washing hair … thts called” reetha” .
my mom still uses it to wash her hair … i used it till i was 20 …now with a busy lifestyle it seems impossible and other thing, it makes eyes miserable so you have to be careful while washing hair.
Here is the mix my mom used to prepare at home for my hair wash:
message hair with coconut oil night before or atleast 1 hr before washing hair
2 tbsp of indian goose berry powder (nAmla powder –this is excellent source of vit c.. i eat 2-3 of these daily during winter season)
1 tbsp of reetha powder ..
Amla makes heir and hand pblack so better wear gloves. what else cn be done is leave amla and soak reetha in boiling water for sometime then it can be mashed and used to wash hair
If these seems to be tough……… homeopathic shampoos can be used ….. in India you get good homeopathic shampoos and hair oils .
hope this helps … 🙂
i used this for a science project in 6th grade im still in the 6th grade because im a kid. Allthough where do u find a black light?
This sounds like a bunch of paranoia. The products may be ineffective because of the short duration during which they are in contact with the skin, but they are in contact long enough to be potentially “deadly”? Oh, better go out and buy some “all natural”, “organic” products with “essential oils” that cost four times more than anything else on the market!
Nice article! Although, I do wish that you had titled it,” Why Antibacterial Soaps Can Be Hazardous to Your Health,” since regular soap doesn’t usually have the antibacterial ingredients your article takes issue with. The chemistry behind a soap molecule makes it an effective dirt and grime remover all by itself! No need for synthetic antibacterial agents! I’ve been making natural soaps for quite a few years now. Not only do they clean amazingly well, they’re gentle enough to use everywhere; on your face, your body, even in your hair, depending on the recipe. My customers usually try their first bar because a friend or family member shares one with them, but after that bar is used up, they come back for more. It’s hard to go back to regular commercial soap after you’ve used a bar of the handmade, natural sort! Check ours out at BarSoapNatural.com
I am ecstatic that you are recommending OJON products. I am Honduran and I know the Director of Mopawi, the organization that has been working with Miskitos in La Mosquitia, Honduras to produce and supply the raw batana to be used to make Ojon products. Using Ojon products you are helping to provide a livelihood for Misquitos, african american people who live in a remote area of Honduras, access is complicated and they have had so many struggles to subsist. But Mopawi has taught them to be self sufficient by harvesting from the AMAZING natural resources that they are surrounded by and making sure that their amazing ecosystem is protected. You can learn more at: http://www.ojon.com/inside/sustainability.tmpl and at mopawi.org
So glad to hear about such topics. I’ve known about the soap issue for sometime but it’s great to hear it again. Thanks for sharing! I’m planning to make homemade soap, can’t wait! #CherylKarina
great! studies in bacteria have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. This is not the case only with antibacterial soap, there are many item of daily need which are still using triclsan. I personally check the ingredients before buying any of my personal care product.
I’m interested to know your sources specifically where you talk about the Tricloson & Triclocarbon and it’s toxicity to the human body. I am writing up a report and would love to know that info to make it as peer reviewed article study-based as possible. Thanks!
This is Why we have to search for products and glad to read this blog and get awareness by now onwards.
Thanks so much….lots of love!;)