Natural Alternatives To Products With Triclosan

By Marilee Nelson |

Natural Alternatives To Products With Triclosan

In 2017, the FDA banned the use of Triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient and EPA-registered pesticide linked to antibiotic resistance, environmental toxicity, and ill health effects, in hand soaps.

However, triclosan is still approved for use in various consumer products, including hand sanitizer, toothpaste, sanitizing wipes, and certain personal care products.

In this article, we’ll share more about the toxicity concerns that led to triclosan’s ban in hand soaps, along with our top picks for natural alternatives to products with triclosan.

What Is Triclosan? 

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent that has been used in various consumer and industrial products for over 30 years.

It is used to slow or stop the growth of bacteria, fungi, and mildew.

Like many antibacterial and disinfectant chemicals, Triclosan is also an EPA-registered pesticide.

What Is Triclosan Used In?

Triclosan has become ubiquitous in our society and environment due to its widespread use in consumer and industrial products.

Triclosan was most widely-known for its controversial use in antibacterial hand soaps and hand sanitizers. 

The controversy stemmed from the fact it was contributing to antibiotic-resistant superbugs while exposing people and the environment to potential harms and providing no benefits compared to using soap and water. 

We’ll discuss more details on triclosan’s toxicity coming up.

However, in 2016, the FDA officially banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial hand soaps.

Later, its use was banned in hand sanitizers.

This was a step in the right direction. However, triclosan is still liberally used in other common household and industrial products, including:

  • Acne products
  • Body washes
  • Cosmetics
  • Deodorants
  • Shaving products
  • Moisturizers
  • Flooring materials
  • Shower curtains
  • Mattresses
  • Adhesives
  • Fabrics
  • Textiles (footwear, clothing) 
  • Carpeting
  • Plastics
  • On conveyor belts and other machine parts
  • Ice making equipment
  • HVAC coils

In addition, the triclosan alternatives, like high-concentrations of alcohol used in hand sanitizers, for example, and other chemicals are still questionable in terms of safety and the FDA has asked for more time to evaluate their effects.

Approximately 80% of triclosan is used in personal care products, which is where we will focus today.

Health And Environmental Implications Of Triclosan

Triclosan didn’t get on the FDA’s radar for being a gentle, effective, and non-toxic chemical. 

On the contrary, the FDA banned Triclosan in over-the-counter consumer antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers due to evidence of:

  • Microbiome disruption
  • Cancer
  • Endocrine disruption 
  • Developmental defects
  • Organ damage,
  • Thyroid disruption
  • Proliferating the spread of superbugs
  • Toxicity to aquatic life
  • Persistent, bioaccumulative effects on wildlife
  • Suspicion of being a persistent and bioaccumulative environmental toxin 

Again, we applaud the FDA for taking action to restrict the use of triclosan in certain consumer products. However, given these health risks, we, and many other experts, would like to see its use banned entirely.

Want to Avoid Triclosan (and its cousins) In Personal Care And Household Products? Here’s What To Use Instead 

Public pressure has caused many companies to quietly remove triclosan from their products.

However, as previously mentioned, it is still used frequently in everyday household products—with 80% of triclosan used in personal care products like cosmetics, skin, and body care.

Plus, the chemicals used to replace triclosan* in antibacterial soaps and sanitizers have toxicity issues of their own.

  • Check labels - avoid products with triclocarban in personal care products, soaps, and hand sanitizers. 
  • Triclosan may also be marketed under the trade name Microban when used in plastics and clothing, and Biofresh when used in acrylic fibers.
  • Beware of any product that is labeled antimicrobial or antibacterial. You may see this label anywhere from shoes to cutting boards.  

From link above - * Under our weak federal laws, it’s impossible for us to know all the uses of triclosan in consumer products. As a result, this is not an exhaustive list of all products containing triclosan.

Instead, we recommend avoiding antibacterial products made with antibacterial chemicals like triclosan, benzalkonium chloride, ethyl alcohol, and isopropyl alcohol.

Here are some helpful alternatives.

Antibacterial Soap Alternatives

Triclosan is no longer allowed in antibacterial hand soaps because it has not been proven more effective than soap and water and can cause harm.

The official recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control is to rely on soap and water to remove germs safely and effectively.

Here are our favorite non-toxic hand soap recommendations.

Branch Basics Gel Hand Soap

Branch Basics Gel Hand Soap is free from all harmful antibacterial chemicals and other toxins while being ultra-gentle, making it safe for the whole family. 

It is third-party tested to be a non-eye or skin irritant and is MADE SAFE certified.

Our star ingredients include:

  • Aloe Vera: This moisture magnet keeps skin soft and supple while boosting hydration and calming inflammation or irritation.
  • Meadowfoam Oil: Nourishing and protective, this plant-based oil seals in moisture to keep skin soft and hydrated.
  • Organic Chamomile: Gently cleanses without stripping your hands while its natural antioxidants protect the skin’s natural barrier

Click here for more information and to shop our new Branch Basics Gel Hand Soap.

Branch Basics Foaming Wash 

Branch Basics Foaming Wash is our original hand-soap formula made using Branch Basics signature Concentrate + water in our special reusable Foaming Wash bottle.

This versatile formula can also be used as an eye makeup remover, facial cleanser, body wash, shampoo, dishwashing soap, jewelry cleaner, and much more.

The difference between Branch Basics Gel Hand Soap and Foaming Wash is their consistency. 

If you prefer a foamy DIY-style soap, Foaming Wash is a great fit (although many people like to mix it up and use both).

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Alternatives

High concentrations of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol have replaced triclosan in hand sanitizers.

Although occasionally using these ingredients in an otherwise non-toxic hand sanitizer may not be harmful, we generally do not recommend them. Especially for babies, children, older people, and anyone who is immune compromised.

The reason is that high concentrations of any type of alcohol, when consumed or applied to the skin (which absorbs nearly anything placed on it), can be harmful to the liver and other organs.

Instead, we recommend removing germs versus killing them whenever possible with these soap-based products.

Branch Basics All-Purpose or Foaming Wash Travel Size or Minis

You may have seen our reels featuring Allison or Kelly spraying their children’s hands with Mini All-Purpose.

You can find the mini All-Purpose we use when we’re out and about in our Travel Kit, along with Foaming Wash and Concentrate, or as a stand-alone product for just $6.00.

Ideally, you’d wet your child’s hands, spray the All-Purpose, have them wipe it around, then rinse with a water bottle, in a bathroom, a water fountain, etc.

However, in a pinch, we’ve used it “neat” with excellent results.

We also keep a Mini Foaming Wash handy ($6.00) for use on the go in public bathrooms, while traveling, etc.

DIY Castile Soap Hand Soap Spray

Many toxin-conscious families make their own on-the-go hand cleanser using liquid castile soap and water.

To make, follow the instructions on the bottle for hand soap dilution, pour into a travel-size spray bottle, and you’re done.

We recommend using a fragrance-free, 100% pure liquid castile soap, like Simply Unscented Castile Soap.

If this dilution is too thick, you could dilute it further to improve sprayability.

Conventional Toothpaste Alternatives

It is not uncommon for conventional fluoride toothpastes to also contain triclosan (which is still approved for use in toothpaste and other oral care products).

You can spot triclosan on the label under “drug facts.” 

However, due to a growing body of evidence suggesting fluoride is a neuro and developmental toxin and other ingredients of concern in oral care products, we’d recommend opting for non-toxic toothpaste.

Some of our favorite brands of natural toothpaste are:

Conventional Shaving Cream Alternatives

Triclosan is still found in many conventional shaving products.

Our favorite simplicity hack is to use Branch Basics Foaming Wash or Branch Basics Gel Hand Soap as a natural shaving cream alternative.

We also like NurtureMy Body Shaving Cream for men.

Get more tips on non-toxic personal care products in: Our Favorite Non-Toxic Personal Care Products.

Non-Toxic Antibacterial Skincare Alternatives

Many brands of skincare products, especially those targeting acne, still contain triclosan.

Fortunately, there are alternatives that can fight breakouts without flooding your body with toxins.

Tips and tools like oil cleansing, detoxifying your diet, drinking more water, getting enough natural sunlight, detoxing your home, and breaking up with toxic acne-causing skin care products can all make a world of difference.

We’ve also found Epsom salt compresses, and Apple Cider Vinegar excellent non-toxic options for spot-treating breakouts.

Get more advice in: 

Alternatives to Conventional Deodorant and Antiperspirant

Conventional deodorant and antiperspirants are hotbeds of toxic ingredients, from triclosan and aluminum to synthetic fragrance and petroleum products.

Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice deodorant to avoid triclosan!

These days, there are many highly effective, non-toxic deodorants for everyone. Some of our faves include:

You may also like making your own deodorant, which can be whipped up with just a few ingredients from your pantry.

Learn how in: Simple DIY Personal Care Product Recipes.

Additional Resources for Avoiding Triclosan

Triclosan and its cousins are used in sneaky ways, so it’s best to avoid any product labeled “antibacterial” and choose a natural, non-toxic version whenever possible.

This applies to clothing, shoes, mattresses, toys, school supplies, and certain building materials.

Get more tips on sourcing more non-toxic, triclosan-free products in:

Toss the Toxins With Branch Basics

For years, we’ve been told we are at war with germs.

Unfortunately, this war mindset has inspired the creation of harmful antibacterial chemicals, like triclosan and friends, that are doing more harm than good for people, animals, and the environment.

Thankfully, we still have options. And the more we become aware of where these chemicals are hiding, the better we can protect ourselves and our families.

Interested in trying Branch Basics as a non-toxic alternative to antibacterial hand soap and body care? 

Check out our Starter Kits, which contain everything you need to replace every cleaner, laundry product, hand soap, and more in your home with just one Concentrate.

For more information on natural sanitizing and disinfecting without harmful chemicals, see: 8 Best Natural Disinfectants For Everyday Use.
Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.