Your Antibacterial Soap Is So Dangerous, Minnesota Just Banned It

The state’s governor says all products sold there have to be free of the chemical triclosan.

(Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

May 25, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

It looks like germaphobes in Minnesota are going to have to kiss antibacterial hand wash good-bye and go back to disinfecting their skin with old-school soap and water. Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a measure banning the antibacterial chemical triclosan from all products sold in the state.

Triclosan is commonly found in a slew of personal care items—everything from body wash, dish soap, and toothpaste to over-the-counter acne medication. It’s found in nearly 2,000 products, but the bad news about the substance keeps piling up.

Back in December, the FDA proposed requiring manufacturers of products that contain triclosan to prove that they’re more effective than just washing your hands or brushing your teeth. Some studies have also shown that the chemical causes hormonal imbalance in animals—which makes you wonder what it’s doing to us. There’s also concern that the use of triclosan is contributing to the rise of deadly, antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Those kinds of concerns led to Minnesota’s ban. “In order to prevent the spread of infectious disease and avoidable infections and to promote best practices in sanitation, no person shall offer for retail sale in Minnesota any cleaning product that contains triclosan and is used by consumers for sanitizing or hand and body cleansing,” says the law.

According to the Daily Beast, the American Cleaning Institute, which lobbies for companies like Colgate-Palmolive, DuPont, and Dow, is trying to weasel out of the ban. It is claiming that individual states shouldn’t be able to enact bans—that’s a federal prerogative.

If it's unsuccessful, those manufacturers of triclosan-containing products will have to decide if they’re going to make special triclosan-free batches to be sold in Minnesota or voluntarily eliminate the chemical across the nation.

Minnesota’s law goes into effect in 2017.