http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=sciencenews&StoryID=1624121 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It may be virtually impossible to buy soap in the United States that is not "antibacterial," but such products are a waste of time, experts said on Thursday. Not only that, but their heavy use could contribute to a whole new breed of hard-to-kill superbugs, the researchers told a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. "It makes you wonder why they call it antibacterial, because according to our research, it isn't any more so than plain soaps," Elaine Larson, associate dean for research at the Columbia University School of Nursing in New York, said in a statement. "We found antimicrobial or antibacterial soaps provide no added value over plain soap." Soap and water works by literally washing away germs, although soap itself can kill bacteria and viruses. Larson noted that several studies suggest that alcohol-based gels are better ways to kill germs instead of washing them away and may be a good alternative for health care workers whose hands are damaged by repeated washings. "If you've got a newborn or a preschooler with a cold, you might consider using an alcohol-based waterless product for a little extra protection against germs," she said. "But for daily hygiene, hand-washing with regular soap is fine. Just be sure to wash all of the surfaces on your hands, the backs, between the fingers, and so on. It's not the amount of time that's important, but covering all the surfaces, as well as applying friction." For their study Larson's team followed primary caretakers in 222 New York City households. Half got an antimicrobial soap for daily hand washing and half were given plain soap. Neither was labeled. The two groups were tested after washing one time and after one year of regular use of the assigned soap. After a year, both groups had fewer germs on their hands, with no differences between the antibacterial soap group and the plain soap group, Larson said.