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Story highlights

FDA says in a final rule that some antibacterial soaps can no longer be marketed

"We have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap," official says

(CNN) —  

The Food and Drug Administration has issued a final rule that throws cold water on claims that antibacterial soaps and washes are more effective than regular soap.

The new rule bans antibacterial soaps and body washes containing certain ingredients from being marketed, because the ingredients were not proved to be safe and effective for long-term daily use, the FDA said Friday.

The rule applies to antibacterial soaps and washes that contain one or more of 19 active ingredients, including the most commonly used chemicals triclosan and triclocarban, but it does not affect consumer hand sanitizers or antibacterial wipes.

“Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a written announcement.

“In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term,” she added.

Companies will have one year to either remove the ingredients or no longer market their products before the final rule is effective (PDF).

The American Cleaning Institute released a statement in response in which it indicated that the FDA had data showing the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. Manufacturers plan to provide additional science and research to fill any data gaps, according to the statement.

“In the coming year, ACI and its member companies will submit additional safety and effectiveness data on the key ingredients in use in consumer antibacterial soaps today: benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol. … Consumers can continue to use antibacterial soaps with confidence as they have for decades in millions of homes, offices, schools, daycare centers and other commercial settings,” said the statement by the American Cleaning Institute, a trade organization that represents the producers of cleaning products.