Instilling an abject fear of germs in the minds of consumers by showing ads with magnified images of all the bacteria residing in your skin, manufacturers of anti-bacterial soaps and body washes have been having a field day selling their products to the public — germophobes and guilt-ridden parents in particular.

All brands of these products have been actively trying to influence consumers into believing that anti-bacterial products have scientifically proven benefits.

Now, the US Food and Drugs Administration has issued a press release that warns the public against using anti-bacterial soaps and body washes, saying that not only are they in no way better than ordinary soap and water, but that they’re actually doing more harm than good.

The FDA announced a new rule in the United States restricting companies from marketing any anti-bacterial product that contains one or more of 19 specific ingredients, including the much-advertised triclosan, giving them a year’s respite to reformulate their products.

According to Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Drug Evaluation and Research wing anti-bacterial products have proven negative effects, contributing to development of antibiotic resistance and destroying the ‘good bacteria’ that live on our skin.

The process of removing these helpful germs disrupts our hormones causing all sorts of problems, from infertility to heart and brain development issues.

Not only are anti-bacterial products harmful to humans says the FDA, they are also an environmental hazard affecting plants and animals too.

Though the FDA ruling at present does not apply to cosmetics, shaving creams and toothpastes to which triclosan is also added (nor the sanitizing gels and wipes so popular these days) studies are being conducted and final results awaited before extending the restrictions to all of them.