Triclocarban vs. Triclosan

What's the Difference?

Triclocarban and Triclosan are both antimicrobial agents commonly used in personal care products such as soaps, toothpaste, and deodorants. However, there are some key differences between the two. Triclocarban is primarily used as a bacteriostatic agent, meaning it inhibits the growth of bacteria, while Triclosan has a broader spectrum of activity, targeting both bacteria and fungi. Triclocarban is also known for its ability to form a persistent residue on the skin, providing long-lasting protection, whereas Triclosan is more readily washed off. Additionally, Triclocarban has been found to have a higher potential for environmental persistence and bioaccumulation compared to Triclosan, raising concerns about its impact on ecosystems and human health.


Chemical FormulaC13H9Cl3N2O2C12H7Cl3O2
UsageAntibacterial agent in soaps and detergentsAntibacterial agent in soaps, toothpaste, and cosmetics
EffectivenessEffective against gram-positive bacteriaEffective against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria
RegulationRestricted in some countries due to environmental concernsRestricted in some countries due to environmental concerns
Health ConcernsPossible endocrine disruption and antibiotic resistancePossible endocrine disruption and antibiotic resistance
Environmental ImpactPersists in the environment and can accumulate in aquatic organismsPersists in the environment and can accumulate in aquatic organisms

Further Detail


Triclocarban and triclosan are two commonly used antimicrobial agents that have been widely incorporated into various consumer products. While they share similarities in their antimicrobial properties, there are distinct differences between these compounds in terms of their chemical structures, effectiveness, potential health risks, and environmental impact. This article aims to provide an in-depth comparison of the attributes of triclocarban and triclosan.

Chemical Structures

Triclocarban, also known as TCC, is a white crystalline powder that belongs to the chemical class of halogenated aromatic compounds. Its chemical formula is C13H9Cl3N2O, and it consists of three chlorine atoms attached to a central carbon atom, along with various other functional groups. On the other hand, triclosan, also known as TCS, is a white crystalline solid with the chemical formula C12H7Cl3O2. It contains three chlorine atoms and two oxygen atoms, forming a unique structure that is distinct from triclocarban.

Antimicrobial Effectiveness

Both triclocarban and triclosan exhibit potent antimicrobial properties, making them effective in killing or inhibiting the growth of bacteria. Triclocarban is particularly effective against gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, while triclosan demonstrates a broader spectrum of activity, targeting both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. However, it is important to note that the long-term use of these compounds may contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which poses a significant concern for public health.

Usage and Applications

Triclocarban and triclosan are commonly used in a wide range of consumer products, including soaps, detergents, toothpaste, deodorants, and cosmetics. Triclocarban is often incorporated into bar soaps, while triclosan is frequently found in liquid soaps and other personal care products. These antimicrobial agents are added to these products to enhance their effectiveness in reducing or preventing bacterial contamination. However, due to growing concerns about their potential health risks and environmental impact, the use of triclocarban and triclosan in certain products has been restricted or banned in some countries.

Health Risks

Triclocarban and triclosan have both been the subject of extensive research regarding their potential health risks. Triclocarban has been associated with endocrine disruption, affecting hormone regulation in animals, and potentially in humans. It has also been found to accumulate in breast milk, raising concerns about its impact on infants. Triclosan, on the other hand, has been linked to various health issues, including disruption of thyroid function, alteration of hormone levels, and potential contribution to the development of antibiotic resistance. Additionally, both compounds have been detected in human urine, indicating their systemic absorption and potential for widespread exposure.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of triclocarban and triclosan is another important aspect to consider. These compounds are not effectively removed by wastewater treatment processes and can persist in the environment, leading to their accumulation in water bodies and potential ecological harm. Triclocarban has been found to be toxic to aquatic organisms, such as algae and fish, while triclosan has been shown to have detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems, including the disruption of microbial communities. Furthermore, the widespread use of products containing triclocarban and triclosan contributes to their release into the environment, further exacerbating their potential impact.

Regulatory Measures

Due to the growing concerns surrounding triclocarban and triclosan, regulatory measures have been implemented in various countries to restrict or ban their use in certain consumer products. For instance, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of triclosan in over-the-counter antiseptic wash products, citing the lack of evidence for their effectiveness and potential risks. Similarly, the European Union has restricted the use of triclosan in cosmetic products. These regulatory actions reflect the need to balance the benefits of antimicrobial agents with their potential risks to human health and the environment.


In conclusion, triclocarban and triclosan are two antimicrobial agents that share similarities in their effectiveness against bacteria but differ in their chemical structures, usage, potential health risks, and environmental impact. While both compounds have been widely used in consumer products, concerns about their potential adverse effects have led to regulatory measures in various countries. It is crucial to continue research and monitoring to better understand the long-term consequences of triclocarban and triclosan use, and to explore safer alternatives that can effectively combat bacterial contamination without compromising human health or the environment.

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