Dial Soap was introduced to the public in 1948. Its innovation was the inclusion of an antiseptic ingredient to kill bacteria. It also differed from most soaps available because of its use of a mix of oils to produce a pleasant smell for the soap. Over the years, Dial has continued to market the antibacterial properties of its soap. However, Dial antibacterial soap may have other properties beyond those which the company emphasises.
Effects in Hospital Settings
Hospitals and other medical settings are subject to large amounts and varieties of bacteria in proximity to vulnerable patients. The active ingredients in antibacterial soap, triclosan for liquid soap and triclocarban for bar soap, target bacteria on surfaces, including human skin, and prevent them from reproducing. This minimises the probability of transmitting the bacteria among sick patients or from sick patients to healthy visitors and workers and vice versa. For this reason, hospitals and hospital staff have used antibacterial soaps for decades, with good effectiveness.
Effects in Household Settings
Chemists working for Dial made the original discovery that resulted in the introduction of antibacterial cleansers--that perspiration odour was the byproduct of bacteria breaking down the sweat that the body produced. Dial antibacterial soap was originally designed to eliminate bacteria on the surface of the body, and minimise perspiration odour as a result. The slogan "Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everybody did?" became known nationwide.
In 1987, Dial introduced antibacterial soap in liquid form for household and office use, another innovation in the market. Liquid antibacterial soap was designed primarily for hand washing, to prevent the spread of bacteria during everyday activities, such as cooking. Liquid antibacterial soap was also marketed as a means of protecting the user against bacteria in home and work settings. In 1988, Dial introduced Hand Sanitizer, a waterless antibacterial cleaning gel and, in 2001, Dial introduced Dial Complete, an antibacterial liquid hand soap that foams on its own and needs water only for rinsing. Dial claims that Dial Complete "kills 10 times more disease-causing germs than other liquid hand soaps."
Effects on Bacterial Resistance
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), antibacterial soaps in household use are no more effective against the transmission of disease than ordinary soaps. Instead, the key is thorough hand washing, not using a particular soap. The study also noted a possible link between what it called "too much hygiene" resulting from the overuse of antibiotic soaps and products (including antibiotic chopsticks) in the household and an increase in allergies among children. The study explained that early exposure to certain infectious agents helps children develop their immune systems along with resistance to allergic agents in the environment.
Household use of antibacterial soaps have also been implicated, along with overuse of antibiotics, the proliferation of superbugs or infectious agents that are resistant to treatment. According to a report issued by the CDC, the concentration of antibacterial agents in most household soaps, along with the short washing time most people practice, only results in eliminating the weakest bacteria, leaving the stronger bacteria behind. This results in making bacteria more resistant to antibiotics. On its corporate websites in the United States and Canada, Dial counters this claim by citing studies that show no increase in bacteria resistance as a result of the proper use of its antibacterial soaps. The websites distinguish antibiotics, which it describes as targeting specific infections, and antibacterial soaps, which are "broad spectrum" agents that work to eliminate many forms of bacteria.