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Is bar soap *actually* unhygienic? Let’s discuss

Is bar soap *actually* unhygienic? Let’s discuss

  • There’s a lot of bias against bar soap. People think it’s dirty and carries germs, but reality and science beg to differ

Most people seem to have a bias against bar soap. When it comes to washing your hands, hair, body, and even the dishes, liquid soap is seemingly the preferred option. 

To be clear, I’m a bar soap advocate. I’ve preferred using bar soap to wash my hands because it leaves them feeling cleaner than liquid soap. It’s also markedly cheaper than the liquid stuff. When I talk to other people, though, they tend to get grossed out. 

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

The bias probably stems from the communal nature of bar soap. It’s something everyone has to touch. When you walk into a public bathroom and see a bar of soap by the hand washing station, you’ll probably avoid it because you think it carries germs and other types of illness-causing bacteria. 

But what does science have to say about it? 

According to research published in 1984, bar soap is dirty, but we don’t need to worry about it. The surface of the bar soap can be covered with bacteria and dirt, but the physical act of lathering it and running it under water still cleans your hands effectively. 

Photo by Matthew Tkocz on Unsplash

What makes bar soap more thorough than liquid hand soap is the friction when you rub it between your hands and fingers. This action makes it easier to remove dirt and other types of debris living on your hands to fall off. It’s an added bonus to mention that there is no scientific evidence that bar soap can spread diseases—even in the pandemic era. 

So it’s safe to say that that bar soap is—well—safe, but there are other benefits to it, too. 

As I mentioned before, bar soap is cheaper. It’s a bonafide fact. You can get a single bar of soap for less than P20, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find liquid hand soap for the same price. A small bar of soap is likely to last you longer than a bottle of liquid soap, too. 

Photo by Anastasia Nelen on Unsplash

A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that we’re probably using more liquid soap than we need to clean our hands. According to the research, it’s estimated that we use six times more liquid hand soap when we wash our hands. 

Bar soaps are also more environmentally friendly. A 2009 study found out that liquid soap uses five times more energy for raw materials and almost 20 times more energy for packaging than liquid soap. In terms of carbon footprint, ecotoxicity, ozone depletion potential, and eutrophication potential, bar soap also fared better than its liquid counterpart. 

If you want to make the switch to bar soap but still can’t stand the thought of its communal nature, you can always make your own liquid soap from the solid stuff. 

Just remember, soap is soap. It’ll still get your hands clean whether it’s in a bar or not. © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.


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