How To Use A Bar Of Soap?
5. Keep your soap dry in between uses – This step is crucial to having a good bar soap experience! If you don’t keep your bar dry in between uses, it could eventually turn into a mushy mess. You can make your bar soap last longer by storing it on a wooden or silicone soap dish with good drainage.
- 1 Should you use a bar of soap directly?
- 2 How long does it take to use 1 bar of soap?
- 3 Where do you put bar soap in the shower?
- 4 Is it OK to shower with a bar of soap?
- 5 Do you rub the soap bar on skin?
- 6 Is bar soap better for acne?
- 7 How many showers should a bar of soap last?
- 8 Do you use bar soap or body wash?
- 9 Why does my skin feel weird after using bar soap?
- 10 Are bar soaps not as hygienic as liquid soaps?
- 11 Is it better to use soap or just water?
Should you use a bar of soap directly?
The Great Debate: Is Bar Soap Unhealthy? – Bar soap got a bad rap not so long ago because of claims that it harbored bacteria and germs in unhealthy numbers. Many consumers accepted those claims as the gospel truth and switched to liquid soap, believing the latter eliminated the bacteria issue.
The real truth, however, isn’t nearly as cut and dry, in fact, bar soap isn’t bad for us at all. Sure, some bar soaps may dry out or irritate your skin, which is why it’s important to choose the right soap for your skin type, but that’s no different from any grooming product. Here’s the bottom line: Yes, there are some germs on your bar soap Consider this: half of the cells in the human body are bacteria and many of those live on the surface of your skin.
But your skin needs that bacteria because it’s essential to your immune system and protects you from pathogens. So, when you use bar soap, you’re essentially transferring microorganisms from your skin to your soap, and back again. It’s not as if your soap bar has a thriving over-populated community of unhealthy bacteria living on it.
- Your washcloth or loofah isn’t guilt-free Washcloths and loofahs often remain moist for long periods, which promotes the growth of mold and bacteria.
- You then transfer that mold and bacteria to your bar of soap the next time that you shower.
- The same principle applies to your soap holder or the shower ledge where you leave your soap bar when you’re finished with it.
The constant moistness promotes and accelerates bar soap bacteria. Here’s how to get rid of bar soap germs OK, so the controversy that comes with the claims that bar soap harbors germs by the gazillion isn’t nearly the whole truth, or even very much of it.
- After wetting the soap, work its lather on your skin for 15 seconds before you begin to wash it off.
- Apply your soap directly to your body instead of using a washcloth or loofah. We just mentioned how those items could harbor germs in great quantities. If you prefer using a washcloth, use a new, dry one every time you shower. You can also toss your loofah into the washing machine from time to time.
- Keep your bar soap dry between uses. This is a point we’ll come back to frequently during this post because of its importance for many different reasons. For one, bacteria prefer to live in the water left on your soap versus on the bar of soap itself.
You’re exposed to bacteria more readily in other places The bacteria found on your bar soap are much less of an issue than the bacteria you come into contact with in many other places, such as cell phones, computer keyboards, doorknobs, faucets, light switches, and even on the towels we use to dry ourselves after a shower.
In fact, towels are among the most germ-laden items in your home, especially when they’re used often and retain moisture for a long period. But isn’t liquid soap more hygienic than bar soap? While most liquid soap is antibacterial, or is marketed that way, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely germ-free, either.
For one, consider the liquid soap dispenser. If you’re not already cleaning it regularly, now’s the time to start because you’re constantly touching its pump with dirty hands. You should also clean your liquid soap dispenser regularly if you refill it often.
- The water used to create liquid soap can form a film inside your dispenser that’s laden with bacteria.
- Let the dispenser dry out completely before you refill it.
- Something else to consider is the cleanliness of that liquid soap dispenser in your kitchen.
- It only stands to reason that a pump you frequently touch with hands that have just handled raw meat and other items would harbor a boatload of bacteria.
We don’t mean to bash liquid soap unmercifully, but finally, the liquid soap and dispensers found in public bathrooms of course also have high concentrations of bacteria. If you touch them after washing, your hands may end up with more bacteria on them than before you washed.
Is a bar of soap supposed to go directly on your face?
– Traditional bar soaps aren’t a good choice for your face, even if they smell fantastic and are great for your body.
- Bar soaps are often scented and dyed. The scents and dyes may irritate the sensitive skin on your face. This could leave your skin red, itchy, or blotchy.
- They may be abrasive. Putting a bar of soap directly on your face can be abrasive and irritate your skin.
- Bar soaps can be drying. Any cleanser you use on your face needs to have moisturizing ingredients. Most traditional bar soaps don’t contain these ingredients and will strip your skin of moisture.
- It can be hard to reach your entire face. Because of the shape and size of bar soaps, you might miss parts of your face.
As a rule, traditional bar soap is simply too harsh to use on delicate facial skin. Most bar soaps have a high pH value. That makes them great for getting dirt and grease off of your body, but wrong for getting oils and buildup off your face.
How long does it take to use 1 bar of soap?
Short Answer – How long a natural soap bar will last depends on:
how many people are using it how often you bathe or shower how you use the bar
For one person showering every day, a well-drained bar should last for about one month.
Where do you put bar soap in the shower?
1. Keep it out of water. – If your bar soap is on a ledge in your shower, it is likely sitting in water which causes the bar to break down quicker. To prevent this, set the bar on the ledge farthest from the showerhead, and use a soap dish or mat, Look for one that allows airflow so that the bar dries out between uses.
Is it OK to shower with a bar of soap?
Bar soap is just as effective as body wash —and it boasts other benefits, too. Learn more about bar soap and how to use it for soft, healthy-looking skin ahead.
Is bar soap really better than liquid?
Are you very picky about cleanliness? Do you wash your hands more than a few times a day? When you buy soap, are you constantly wondering which type of soap is best? Well, you’re not alone! Soap is definitely an important facet of our daily lives and all the different options available make choosing the best a little more difficult.
We can, however, break hand soaps into two teams: liquid soap and bar soap. Even though bar soap has been around the longest (centuries, even!), liquid soap has become extremely popular in the last few years. So let’s examine which soap is best, taking into account how soap works, the chemical makeup of soap, the bacteria that can be found in each kind, and the impact that they have on the environment.
How well they work and the effect on skin Liquid soap backers may often state the drying effect bar soap can have on the skin. This happens because, generally, commercial hand soap tends to have a higher pH level, which can be very drying. However, there is more than one type of bar soap available, many with lower pH factors! As a matter of fact, most bar soaps do contain glycerin which is very therapeutic for dry skin and other sensitivities like eczema, and those with lower pH levels have absolutely no drying effects on skin. Ingredients Bar soap is most commonly made from saponified animal fat and/or plant oils (like ours!). For those of us that don’t understand chemistry, saponification is the name of the process by which animal or vegetable fats are blended with a strong alkali to make soap.
On the other hand, liquid soaps are petroleum based and require emulsifying agents and stabilizers in order maintain their consistency. These agents have been tested and approved by the appropriate governing agencies but few if any actual studies exist showing the long-term effects of repeated use of these chemicals.
Bacteria We have explained this more in depth before. Liquid soap has been promoted as being anti-bacterial almost from the beginning of its introduction into the marketplace. A study in the early 90s by the Dial Corporation studied wether or not bacteria from a used bar of soap transferred to the skin. Ecological considerations and waste More than 40% of shoppers buying skin care products consider themselves “ecologists” or, at least, having concern for environmental factors. However, most don’t know that a 2009 study done at the Institute of Environmental Engineering concluded that liquid soaps leave a 25% larger carbon footprint than do bar soaps.
Yeesh! Because of the chemical formula of soap and its ingredients, it takes more chemical feedstocks and processing to manufacturing liquid soap. In fact, it takes about 7 times more than when manufacturing hand bar soap. That means 7 times more energy use and carbon emissions! Fragrance-free options It’s not a secret that some people have allergies and adverse skin reactions to harsh fragrances.
Other people just prefer to not have them on their soap. In this sense, bar soaps win. Liquid soaps that are fragrance-free are rare and can be difficult to find. On the other hand, a lot of different fragrance-free bar soaps exist, as well as bar soaps made with completely natural ingredients and with very gentle fragrances.
- Conclusion (Tl;dr) Which kind is better? Well, it depends entirely on the factors that are most important to you.
- If ecology and going green are important to you, then bar soap wins hands down.
- If the decision is financial, bar soap wins again by a significant margin (washing your hands with bar soap is about a third of the cost as using liquid hand soap).
If moisturizing effects and a strictly rich lather are on the top of your priority list, then liquid soaps are the way to go. However, from a purely health-conscious standpoint, bar soaps contain fewer chemicals and do just as good a job in preventing the spread of germs as their liquid counterparts.
Do you rub the soap bar on skin?
3. Rub the bar in your hands to create a lather – Speaking of lather, let’s talk about how to get a good lather going with natural bar soaps. Unlike synthetic bar soaps, natural bar soaps contain no SLS or other foam boosters. Instead, they rely on a combination of oils — like coconut oil and castor oil — and glycerin to create a lovely, foamy lather.
Depending on the formula, this lather may be slightly creamier than what you’re used to, but we promise that it’s just as effective at getting your body clean! To get a good lather going, do a quick rinse to wet your skin and rub the bar between your hands for 15 seconds. Then, apply the lather to your entire body.
Keep in mind that hard water can make it notoriously difficult to create a lather. If you find this bothersome, you can always install a water softener in your home to remove the minerals.
How long should soap stay on your skin?
Spend a minute blessing the s*** out of your skin. For the longest time, whenever my friends and co-workers asked about cleansing products with hyped ingredients, I’d answer: “It doesn’t matter. How long does that stay on your skin? Like 10 seconds? That’s not enough for any ingredient to work.” Turns out, I was wrong.
To be pedantic, though, I’m also right: If you’re racing through your washing routine in under a minute, that’s not giving much time for “special ingredients” to work. But I was wrong to assume that having green tea or rose extracts in your cleanser was solely a marketing gimmick. Active ingredients are great for people with specific concerns and a minimal routine — but for any kind of cleanser to work its best magic, you need to be gently washing your skin for 60 seconds.
Imagine trying to add fresh paint after barely sanding off old paint. It might look OK, but you’re just an extra minute away from it being better.
Is bar soap better for acne?
Frequently Asked Questions – Is bar soap good for acne? Yes. Bar soaps with active ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide effectively treat acne. They dissolve dead skin cells, unclog pores, and soothe acne. But, bar soaps that are not specially designed for treating acne can worsen the acne condition.
They over-dry the skin, triggering the oil glands to produce excess sebum and clog pores. Does bar soap dry up acne? Yes. Bar soaps that are more alkaline; they dry up your skin and acne if used regularly. Does bar soap expire? Yes. Bar soaps expire. Natural or organic soaps usually have a shelf life of one year, while other soaps expire after two to three years.
How often should you use soap for acne? Use soap twice a day to treat acne. What ingredients in bar soap can make acne worse? Toxic ingredients like parabens, dyes, fragrances, formaldehyde, and lanolin in a bar soap are harmful to acne. What kinds of skin conditions are irritated by acne soaps? Acne soaps can irritate the skin of people suffering from conditions like eczema, rosacea, and contact dermatitis.
How many showers should a bar of soap last?
How long will a soap bar last? – Your bar of natural soap will last for different periods of time, depending on:
- How often you use your soap
- How many people are using it
- How you use your soap
A natural soap bar should last you a full month if you are draining it well and showering once a day. If multiple people are using it then it will last for a shorter period of time. If you only use your soap bar to wash your hands then you should have it for much longer.
Can you use bar soap on hair?
What Soaps Can You Use To Clean Your Hair? – While detergent bars make your hair rough and dry, some specially formulated shampoo bars are safe to use for your hair. These shampoo bars are made with natural cleansing ingredients like shikakai, reetha, and amla.
Some may also contain moisturizing ingredients to keep your hair soft and healthy. Whatever soap you choose, ensure that it suits your hair type and addresses your hair concerns. Alternatively, you can also consider using dry shampoo. Unlike shampoos and conditioners that work on wet hair, dry shampoos can be applied on dry hair, hence the name.
Dry shampoos can work as a quick fix after a gym session or a humid commute. Wrapping Up Washing your hair with soap once or twice will not affect your hair, but regular cleaning of your hair with bar soap can create serious problems like roughness and severe tangles.
Why do people use bar soap?
– All types of mild soaps basically do the same thing — dislodge dirt from your skin’s surface. The differences come in the ingredients and mechanism for dirt removal. Bar soap works by dissolving the dirt on the surface of your skin. As sweat and dirt mix with your body’s natural oils, it can settle on your skin and breed bacteria.
- Bar soaps break this oily layer apart and lift pathogens away from your skin.
- Body wash uses the same cleansing mechanism to get dirt off your skin, but often contains a mixture of ingredients meant to help treat common skin conditions.
- Dryness, clogged pores, and skin flaking can all be addressed with a body wash.
Body wash usually contains ingredients meant to restore skin moisture that can be stripped by the cleansing process. Shower gel is basically a thinner, less hydrating body wash formula. It doesn’t cling to your skin the same way, and tends to simply cleanse your skin without infusing it with moisturizing ingredients.
Do you use bar soap or body wash?
THE BIG STORY ‘Not on My Wash’ – When it comes to bath products, I’m an agnostic. I was raised with bar soaps, but I’ve also dabbled in body washes and experimented with shower gels every now and then. I have no firm preference for any of the three, which means whenever I’m shopping for a new bath product, I often end up in a state of analysis paralysis.
- Should I go with bar soap, an old friend, or should I slather myself with shower gel or body wash for the next four weeks? Which is better for my skin, and which is more sustainable for the environment? I hem and haw.
- I pace around the bath products aisle for such a long time it’s probably irritating for any store clerk who has the misfortune to watch me.
It’s unlikely that I’m the only person who has wondered about which bath product to use. So to get to the bottom of this question, I asked experts about the pros and cons of each. What are the differences among the three? A bar soap is a solid cleanser, while shower gel and body wash are liquid cleansers.
If you have a hard time distinguishing between shower gel and body wash, here’s what to look for: Shower gel has a gel-like consistency, while body wash can be creamier, says Maiysha Jones, PhD, principal scientist in the North American Personal Care Division at Procter & Gamble, a consumer goods company that includes personal care and hygiene brands.
Which should you choose for your skin? Let’s take the pressure off first: There is no right or wrong selection in using a bar soap, shower gel, or body wash. It comes down to personal preference and understanding which form is suitable for your skin type, says Sabrina Henry, principal scientist at Aveeno, which makes skin care products.
It’s also worth noting that specific products in each of the three categories can be formulated in different ways. That said, here are some generalities about each. Moisturizing Body washes tend to have more moisturizing ingredients, says Nicole Negbenebor, MD, a dermatology resident at Brown University.
But if you just need to get clean or prefer a squeaky clean feeling after you shower, a traditional bar soap or shower gel can be what you need, says Jones. Just remember that depending on how they are formulated, traditional bar soaps and shower gels can sometimes strip skin of its natural moisture compared with body washes, says Jones.
- You can, however, look for bar soaps that contain moisturizing ingredients.
- PH Level Traditional bar soaps can be more drying than body washes or shower gels because they are more alkaline than our skin, which is an important point of consideration for those with dry or sensitive skin.
- Body washes, on the other hand, generally have lower pH levels, which are better for more sensitive skin, says Negbenebor.
Because the pH of our skin is slightly acidic (4 to 5), soaps with pH 5.5 and thereabouts would be best, while anything above 6 would be harsh to the skin, says Yousuf Mohammed, PhD, a senior research fellow at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute in Australia.
- Irritants For body washes and gels, you should watch out for allergens (such as high amounts of fragrances and certain preservatives) that can trigger eczema.
- Bar soaps tend to have less irritating preservatives in them, but if your skin is easily irritated, make sure to avoid soaps with a lot of fragrances or harsh dyes, says Negbenebor.
Which is more environmentally friendly? From an environmental perspective, consumers can look for products packaged in recycled materials that they can recycle after use, says Jones. Bar soap is the greenest option because it can be packaged with recyclable paper, says Eleanor Greene, editor-in-chief of Green American magazine, a publication from the nonprofit organization Green America, which promotes environmental sustainability.
- Shower gels and body wash, on the other hand, can be less environmentally friendly because they typically come in plastic packaging, says Mitch Ratcliffe, publisher of recycling database and sustainability resource Earth911.com.
- However, if a gel or body wash brand offers a robust refill and recycling program, as some brands are doing now, it can reduce waste and environmental impact on the environment in the long run.
If you want to make more of an environmental difference, it’s perhaps more important to consider how long you’re spending in the shower, To save money and energy, you can take shorter showers and lower your water heater temperature to around 120º F, which reduces the need for electricity or gas to heat your shower water, says Ratcliffe.
- You can also switch to a low-flow showerhead that uses less water—ideally, one that has a WaterSense label from the Environmental Protection Agency, which can save at least half a gallon of water per minute of showering, says Ratcliffe.
- And if you want your home to be more environmentally sustainable, here are 10 quick tips to make a greener home,
Personal Vote As someone who has oilier skin and who doesn’t feel the need for extra skin hydration at the moment (though never say never), I might go back to bar soaps for the time being because anything that reduces plastic usage gets an extra point for me.
Oh, and I guess I’ll be taking shorter showers from now on. It’s been real, long showers, but this is where you and I part ways. When it comes to bath products, a lot of people have their personal favorites. Some may be soap devotees, while others are strict followers of the body wash faith. We asked our social media followers which product they like using in a shower the most.
Here’s what you said, On both Twitter and Instagram, the majority of people voted for bar soap, while body wash followed in second and shower gel trailed in a more distant third. And don’t think I missed the fact that there is a tiny but undeniable representation of people who said they only use water.
On Twitter, it was 0.5 percent of our voters, but on Instagram, it was 2 percent. To each their own, I say. And I fully support your right to shower however you want, as long as you do bathe, Here’s a look at the, dare I say it, unusual way CR tests how effective sunscreens are. Which kind of container do you think gets recycled the most in the U.S.? A.
Plastic bottles B. Aluminum cans C. Glass bottles (Answer is at the end.) Which is better for cleaning your teeth, an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush? 🦷 Here’s the verdict: Electric toothbrushes have the edge over manual toothbrushes when it comes to cleaning away plaque and reducing gingivitis, a common form of gum disease, according to clinical research.
Why does my skin feel dry after using bar soap?
Please Help Me Understand Why You Still Use Bar Soap Last month, I spent a weekend at my best friend’s apartment in Chicago. I unpacked what was basically the entirety of my bathroom cabinet while the shower heated up, and then I stepped in. It was only then that I realized that she only stocked,
I glared at it, white and shriveled and weird. Then, I made the executive decision to suds up with, If it’s good enough for your hair, it should be fine for skin in a pinch, right? Desperate times! I have nothing against bar soaps. Wait—yes, I do. Bar soaps suck. They’re slimy, they’re slippery, and you risk losing a toe if you’re not careful.
Then, once they shrivel up, you can’t even get a decent lather out of them. If you have the option of using a, why would you ever use bar soap? It’s like having the chance to drive a car but choosing to use a horse and carriage. I relayed this to another friend and and bar soap lover, Pei.
“Yeah, but I can test the scent before I buy, I like all the pretty shit they mix in—like the herbs and all the little flecks—and they come in pretty packaging,” she replied. “They’re cute in an I-go-shopping-with-a-wicker-basket kind of way.” (She lives in San Francisco, if you couldn’t tell.) Pei’s not alone, though.
“Many of my patients prefer using a bar soap over a liquid body wash,” says NYC dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D. “It feels more normal to them in their cleansing ‘ritual.'” The differences go far beyond personal preference. Depending on what kind of bar soap you use, it could actually be bad for your skin.
Traditional bar soaps can cause dry, dehydrated skin due to their high pH,” says Al-Nisa Ward, cosmetic chemist and founder of,, and its pH tends to hover around 5 on a scale of 1 (very acidic) to 14 (very alkaline). These traditional soaps usually include the adorable, handcrafted kind that Pei so loves.
To be fair, there are newer formulations that offer a neutral pH. “Combo bars are a combination of surfactants, which suspend oil and dirt particles so they’re easier to wash away, and saponified oils, like olive oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil,” explains Ward.
- Those oils, as well as any other organic extracts and minerals (think activated charcoal), help nourish your skin as they cleanse it, says Engelman, who’s a fan of Moroccanoil Cleansing Bar ($12, ).
- Just as good are syndet bars.
- Syndet (a combination of the words “synthetic” and “detergent”) bars are composed of synthetic surfactants, such as sodium cocyl isethionate.
That’s why Dove’s Beauty Bar—probably the best-known syndet bar out there—qualifies as a bar, but not a bar soap, And some bars have those massaging nubs on one side, which aren’t there just for show. “They help promote circulation and can temporarily smooth the appearance of cellulite,” says Engelman.
Why does my skin feel weird after using bar soap?
Some soaps strip the the oils; sweat and dirt too much. Your skin might feel itchy; dry or both. You might be allergic to some soaps (I know people that are allergic to the perfumes in the soaps not the soap). If it won’t cost you money; try different soaps or get some skin tests.
Can bacteria grow on bar soap?
Are there germs on bar soap? – Truth About Bar Soap And Germs. Yes. Bacteria tend to grow inside the goo created when the bar soap contacts water for some time. The shocking answer is yes. Bacteria tend to grow inside the goo created when the bar soap contacts water for some time.
- The wetness of the water allows microbiological growth, while skin cells that remain on the bar soap can be used as a food source for some pathogens.
- This provides an environment in which dangerous bacteria can grow freely and contact your skin when you use that same soap.
- Not all is lost, though.
- Washing the bar soap thoroughly with water drastically diminishes the risk of bacteria surviving on the soap.
It is also recommended to wash the container where the bar soap is kept often to keep the goo from developing. Truth About Bar Soap And Germs. It is very important to know about it.
Are bar soaps not as hygienic as liquid soaps?
Bar soap and liquid soap are equally as effective – Soap, whether liquid or bar, will reduce the number of pathogens on your hands. The friction you create when you’re rubbing your hands together and lathering up lifts away dirt and microorganisms, and the water then rinses them off.
Additionally, soap of any variety is particularly good at deactivating certain types of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. That’s because this virus is what’s called an enveloped virus, meaning it contains an outer membrane of lipid, or fat. Maloy says that soap molecules are effective at dissolving this membrane, which deactivates the virus, essentially killing it.
Both experts say that whether you decide to use bar soap or liquid soap in your home simply comes down to personal preference. You won’t be more protected or less protected if you choose one or the other, as long as you’re washing your hands properly and for a long enough time – at least 20 seconds,
- It’s also important to remember that antibacterial soap is not necessarily more effective at killing germs than regular soap.
- According to Whyte, bar soaps can accumulate some bacteria when they stay out in the open for a long time, but there’s really no data to suggest any harm from it.
- The chances of actually getting sick from bacteria on the soap are very slim.
But, if you live with multiple people (a family or a few roommates) and somebody in the household is sick, and you don’t want to take any chances, you might feel more comfortable using liquid soap to prevent further germ spread.
Do bars of soap get dirty?
An answer to the Explainer’s Question of the Year. – Download the MP3 audio version of this story here, or sign up for The Explainer’s free daily podcast on iTunes, Two weeks ago, the Explainer offered up a list of questions that we never got around to answering in 2006, among them: “Why is smooth peanut butter cheaper than nutty?” and “Why is grilled chicken tasting increasingly rubbery and odd?” We invited Slate readers to let us know which unanswered question was most deserving of an answer.
After a thorough analysis of the votes—of which there were thousands—three questions emerged as the reader favorites. The first was about whether we’re likely to have inhaled molecules from the body of Abraham Lincoln. This conundrum, it turns out, is a classic brainteaser often presented in college physics classes.
For an in-depth discussion of the question, see page 32 of the book Innumeracy, by John Allen Paulos, or check out this episode of NPR’s Morning Edition, The second question concerned the plight of a young man in a May-December relationship with a cocaine-snorting stripper, and concluded, “Can you give me some advice?” The query seemed to be outside the purview of this column.
However, the Explainer was able to forward the question on to Slate ‘s own advice columnist, who was more than happy to provide an answer, Which brings us to the third reader-selected question, and the official Explainer Question of the Year: How clean is bar soap in a public bathroom? Is it “self-cleaning,” since it’s soap? It seems like a health hazard to me.
It’s dirty, but that doesn’t make it a health hazard. Soap can indeed become contaminated with microorganisms, whether it’s in liquid or bar form. According to a series of tests conducted in the early 1980s, bars of soap are often covered with bacteria and carry a higher load than you’d find inside a liquid dispenser.
But no one knows for sure whether this dirty soap will actually transfer its germs to your hands during a wash. In fact, what little clinical evidence there is suggests that dirty soap isn’t so bad. A study from 1965 and another from 1988 used similar methodologies: Researchers coated bars of soap in the lab with E.
coli and other nasty bacteria, and then gave them to test subjects for a vigorous hand-wash. Both teams found no transfer of contamination from the dirty soap. However, both studies were tainted by potential conflicts of interest: The first was conducted by Procter & Gamble, and the second came from the Dial Corp.
Still, there’s no good evidence to contradict these studies, and it’s likely that the bacteria on a dirty bar would just wash off when you rinsed your hands. In other words, you’d be cleaning the soap as you cleaned your hands. (Your hands would probably have been a lot dirtier than the soap to begin with.) It’s not even clear that you need clean water to get the benefits of a hand-washing.
Recent hand-hygiene studies in the developing world have found that washing with soap and water reduces infections even when the water supply might be contaminated. Dirty water, like dirty soap, might not make washing less effective. Even under the best conditions, washing your hands can actually increase the number of microorganisms present on your hands, thanks to contaminated surfaces near the sink, splashes of contaminated water, or improperly dried hands.
In general, it’s safer to leave your hands unwashed than to leave them wet.) The hand-washing paradox might also result from soap-induced skin damage: Dry skin tends to crack and flake and may become more permeable to infectious agents. (You’re more susceptible to this if you wash many times per day.) Still, washing with soap and water has been repeatedly shown to prevent the spread of illness, and may be helpful even when it increases your bacteria counts.
That may be because two kinds of microbes live on the hands: residents and transients, (In fact, they can even protect your skin from more malicious microbes.) The transient variety are the ones that tend to cause colds or other infections—the ones you want to get rid of when you wash your hands.
It’s possible that the increase in bacteria that can result from a hand-washing is composed of harmless residents, not dangerous transients. According to the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand-washing remains a very important method of staving off infectious disease, and either bar soap or liquid soap should be used after a trip to the bathroom or before a meal.
Local health agencies and inspectors are sometimes more wary of bar soap, They either ban it outright or suggest that the bar be placed on a draining rack to dry out between washings. (The gooey bars are more likely to harbor germs.) Got a question about today’s news? Ask the Explainer,
Is it better to use soap or just water?
Why? Because hands could become recontaminated if placed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used 1, However, washing with non-potable water when necessary may still improve health 3,
The temperature of the water does not appear to affect microbe removal; however, warmer water may cause more skin irritation and is more environmentally costly 4-6, Turning off the faucet after wetting hands saves water, and there are few data to prove whether significant numbers of germs are transferred between hands and the faucet.
Using soap to wash hands is more effective than using water alone because the surfactants in soap lift soil and microbes from skin, and people tend to scrub hands more thoroughly when using soap, which further removes germs 2, 3, 7, 8, To date, studies have shown that there is no added health benefit for consumers (this does not include professionals in the healthcare setting) using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients compared with using plain soap 9, 10,
- As a result, FDA issued a final rule in September 2016 that 19 ingredients in common “antibacterial” soaps, including triclosan, were no more effective than non-antibacterial soap and water and thus these products are no longer able to be marketed to the general public.
- This rule does not affect hand sanitizers, wipes, or antibacterial products used in healthcare settings.
Why? Lathering and scrubbing hands creates friction, which helps lift dirt, grease, and microbes from skin. Microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in particularly high concentration under the nails, so the entire hand should be scrubbed 11-15,
- Why? Determining the optimal length of time for handwashing is difficult because few studies about the health impacts of altering handwashing times have been done.
- Of those that exist, nearly all have measured reductions in overall numbers of microbes, only a small proportion of which can cause illness, and have not measured impacts on health.
Solely reducing numbers of microbes on hands is not necessarily linked to better health 16, The optimal length of time for handwashing is also likely to depend on many factors, including the type and amount of soil on the hands and the setting of the person washing hands.
For example, surgeons are likely to come into contact with disease-causing germs and risk spreading serious infections to vulnerable patients, so they may need to wash hands longer than someone preparing their own lunch at home. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods 15, 17, 18,
Accordingly, many countries and global organizations have adopted recommendations to wash hands for about 20 seconds (some recommend an additional 20-30 seconds for drying):
The Benefits of Hand Washing external icon New Zealand. Step-by-Step Guide to Hand Washing external icon The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing. Why Handwashing? external icon World Health Organization. Guidelines on Hygiene in Health Care: A Summary pdf icon external icon
Why? Soap and friction help lift dirt, grease, and microbes—including disease-causing germs—from skin so they can then be rinsed off of hands. Rinsing the soap away also minimizes skin irritation 15, Because hands could become recontaminated if rinsed in a basin of standing water that has been contaminated through previous use, clean running water should be used 1, 12,While some recommendations include using a paper towel to turn off the faucet after hands have been rinsed, this practice leads to increased use of water and paper towels, and there are no studies to show that it improves health.
Why? Germs can be transferred more easily to and from wet hands; therefore, hands should be dried after washing 15, 19, However, the best way to dry hands remains unclear because few studies about hand drying exist, and the results of these studies conflict. Additionally, most of these studies compare overall concentrations of microbes, not just disease-causing germs, on hands following different hand-drying methods.
It has not been shown that removing microbes from hands is linked to better health 16, Nonetheless, studies suggest that using a clean towel or air drying hands are best 18, 20, 21,
Why use bar soap over liquid soap?
Bar Soap – The advantages of bar soap include:
The friction created by rubbing the bar against your hand can be more effective at removing debris like visible dirt, says Whyte. Usually more cost-effective than liquid soap.Bar soap is a more sustainable option. It usually comes in boxes made of thin cardboard, which uses less material than the thick plastic that liquid soap bottles are made of. Plastic takes at least 100 years to decompose in a landfill. On the other hand, cardboard packaging takes a few months to decompose, A 2009 study in Environmental Science & Technology determined almost 20 times more energy is required in product packaging for plastic soap bottles than producing cardboard or paper packaging for bar soap.
The disadvantages of bar soap include:
It tends to dry out skin more easily than liquid soap due to its high pH which can have a dehydrating effect.Used bar soaps can get slimy or mushy, which isn’t a threat to your health, but may appear unsightly.
The bottoms line is that a good, thorough handwashing with liquid or bar soap is crucial because not only does it prevent you from transferring any pathogens to another surface or person, but it also makes it less likely for you to introduce pathogens to your mouth, eyes, or nose if you touch your face.