Is bar soap a safe alternative if you can’t find liquid hand soap?

If you’re like me, even if you managed to grab some necessities as early reports of the COVID-19 hit, you’ve probably been going through your soap supply at a record pace.

That’s because we know that washing our hands is one of the best ways to keep those germs from spreading thanks to soap’s ability to slay viruses better than alcohol and disinfectants.

In fact, this past weekend when I realized my supply of liquid hand soap was dwindling faster than I ever imagined possible, I braved the crowds and long lines at my local grocery store in search of more, only to come up empty.

A quick trip to Walmart yielded the same results and a desperate search on Amazon turned up not one available bottle.

But, as I stood in the soap aisle that used to be packed and twirled around amazed by empty shelf after empty shelf, I realized that there was one type of soap that was actually left…

Bar soap.

Not knowing what else to do, I grabbed a huge pack and headed for the checkout. Yet, all the time I was wondering in the back of my mind whether or not it was a good idea or not… like, if someone in my family came in contact with Coronavirus would they be able to pass any germs to the rest of us by using the same bar?

What science says about sudsy bar soap

We haven’t used bar soap in our home in many years. And I have to admit any time I think of bar soap, that silly Friends episode with Joey and Chandler comes to mind…

But, unlike Chandler, if you’re just washing your hands, you won’t have to be concerned with who washed what body part last when it’s your turn to soap up. But you might be concerned about whether you can get their “hand” germs — or not.

In other words, you might question whether soap is “self-cleaning,” as Chandler claimed.

Well, here’s what I found out…

While studies have found that bacteria can remain on a bar of soap, especially if it’s used frequently and remains wet or moist, it’s not actually something you have to worry about.

That’s because it’s also been found that these germs don’t seem to transfer to the person who uses it next.

Related: Why simple soap slays viruses better than alcohol and disinfectants

Now, there is a special caveat to that…

The experts say that if you go to use a bar of soap and it looks slimy, before you use it to lather your hands, rinse it first under running water.

Even better, they point out that storing it in a way that allows it to dry between uses can help keep germs from flourishing in a damp environment.

The best way to do this is to keep it in a soap dish that allows for drainage.

Beyond handwashing

I hope that puts our mind at ease because finding that liquid hand soap we’ve all gotten used to using, is probably only going to get harder.

One thing to consider if you still flinch a little at the idea of a shared soap bar is assigning everyone in your household their own personal bar.

Of course, in addition to handwashing, whether you’re still working your way through your supply of liquid soap or have moved on to bar soap like my family, there are other things that can help each day to keep everyone in the best health possible.

These include:

  • Avoiding crowds and staying home whenever possible
  • Washing your clothes and showering if you have been out (like when you go to the grocery store)
  • Keeping your hands away from your face to stop the spread of germs
  • Using hand sanitizer when you’re out and don’t have access to soap and water
  • Eating well, getting your rest, and finding healthy ways to deal with the anxiety you may feel during this time

Sources:

  1. The Power of Hand-Washing to Prevent Coronavirus — WebMD
  2. Bacteriological Studies Relating to HandwashingAmerican Journal of Public Health and the Nation’s Health

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Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.