In 2004, Americans spent more than $540 million on anti-bacterial hand cleaners, soaps and detergents that contain chemicals such as triclosan to kill germs, even though a Food and Drug Administration panel found that they are no better than soap and water.
Triclosan mimics thyroid hormone, is commonly added to soaps, toothpaste, deodorant, dog shampoo, cutting boards, clothing, toys and other anti-bacterial products, and is turning up in fish, breast milk and wastewater. A recent study has shown it's enough to disrupt thyroid function in frogs. Equivalent data on humans isn't yet available.
By the way, anti-bacterial soaps don't prevent colds or flu, which are associated with viruses, not bacteria. (3)
News From Dr. Van Ness