Business Images/REX/Shutterstock By Penny Sarchet What is an antibacterial? Antibacterials are compounds that interfere with the growth and reproduction of bacteria, and can be used to disinfect surfaces in the home. They are added to some soaps, detergents, skincare products and household cleaners. So soap by itself doesn’t kill bacteria? No. Soap contains chemicals that help water flush the bacteria off your hands and down the drain, which is usually enough to protect you. It’s important to rub your hands together while doing it, as this helps dislodge the bacteria. Are antibacterials the same as antibiotics? No. Antibiotics also kill bacteria, but are only used as drugs to treat people and animals. Which chemicals count as antibacterial? Any product that claims to kill bacteria will contain chemicals that are antibacterial. Antibacterials can be classified into two main categories: non-residue and residue. Non-residue antibacterials includes familiar disinfectants like alcohols, chlorine and peroxides. More recently we’ve started using compounds like triclosan and triclocarban, which unlike alcohol or chlorine leave behind a residue. In theory, this residue prolongs the antibacterial’s effect, providing more lasting protection against bacteria. Do antibacterials work?