Did you know that many commercial soaps (about 40%, according to the New York Times) contain antimicrobial chemicals including triclosan and triclocarban? On Sept. 2, the FDA passed a rule banning these chemicals from use in antiseptic hand and body washes. Why did we let soap get so complicated and chemical-laden in the first place? Such excess and toxic compounds are linked to drug-resistant infections and to soil and water pollution. Trying to get clean by washing down with chemicals to destroy the natural flora on our skin seems counterintuitive at best. In fact, the hygiene hypothesis suggests that the onslaught of antimicrobial products arising from our phobia of microorganisms has led to loss of natural resistance and to immunosuppression. Small doses of immune-challenging organisms and substances act as antidotes to larger-scale exposure. By attempting to sterilize our environments and bodies, we make ourselves vulnerable to serious infections and foster much more virulent strains of microorganisms. All of this is another great reason to clean up with good, non-toxic handmade soap!