Are bars of soap full of dirt and bacteria? And what about liquid soap?
Because we naturally become passionate when we talk about natural soaps with people who don't use them often, we regularly get the reaction that they get dirty and are therefore full of bacteria. They truly believe that bars of soap are less hygienic than liquid soap or body wash.
We would like to get that out of the way, so; are bars of soap hygienic? The answer is an obvious YES! In the past, families had one bar of soap to share and nobody thought about it and nobody got sick from it. But then the industry's marketing departments started actively promoting their "new things" that were easy to use and brought them good profits.
The point is that human skin has a natural microbiome that contains thousands of different bacteria, fungi, and viruses that have no negative health impact on people with intact immune systems because they are part of our bodies. In fact, this microbiome helps keep our skin healthy.
It makes sense that the microbes from your natural microbiome plus the oils and dead skin cells on your hands are passed on to everything you touch. So we transfer these bacteria to our smartphones, keyboards, remotes, doorknobs, faucets, liquid soap dispensers, light switches, shower heads, washcloths, towels, and yes, our bars of soap too.
But these bacteria on your bar of soap are much less of a problem than the bacteria you pick up from other places on your hands.
The germs on the bar of soap you use in your home have no negative health effects because they come from you. Your body has adapted to live with its natural microbial environment. Even if you share a bar of soap with people who live in the same house, your body is likely adapted because you share many of the same microorganisms.
Numerous studies have shown that although the bacteria level on a used bar of soap is slightly higher than on unused soap, no detectable levels of bacteria remain on the skin's surface after using a bar of soap.
John E. Heinze and Frank Yackovich published a studie in het Cambridge Journal of Epidemiology and Infection in which they worked with additional bacteria on the surface of bars of soap, so that the number of bacteria was 70 times higher than that of a typical bar of soap used. After a group of people washed their hands with the bacteria-rich soap, there were no detectable levels of the bacteria on the surface of their skin. The study concluded that there was no evidence of bacteria transferring from the soap to your hands.
The idea that the bacteria on a bar of soap won't be transferred to your skin may seem strange, but remember that washing with a bar of soap is not the same as drying with a towel or touching a faucet.
First of all, if you run your bar of soap under the tap to make it foamy, you are actually washing the surface of the soap. When you then wash your skin, the foam absorbs greasy dirt and oil on your skin and when you rinse, you immediately rinse away all soap and impurities. When you dry yourself with a towel, or touch a light switch or faucet, for example, all the bacteria that you transfer will stay behind. About that towel: Research conducted at the University of Arizona in 2014 by Charles Gerba showed that towels can be the most soiled item in your home because they are used frequently and they retain moisture for a long period of time, making it easy for bacteria to grow. reproduce.
Bacteria don't like to live in the actual soap, they are attracted to water sitting on top of the soap. So if you're still concerned, there are a few simple things you can do to help rid your soap of bacteria:
- let your soap dry and use a good soap dish or a soap bag
- rinse off your soap if necessary. If your soap isn't dry, rinse the soap under running water before using it to remove the wet exterior.
And what about liquid soap, is that hygienic?
When considering what type of 'soap' you and your family want to use, you have the choice between bars of soap and liquid soap in a (plastic) bottle. Besides the fact that you don't really want or need to use plastic bottles anymore, the question is: how hygienic is liquid soap? As mentioned before, bacteria don't like to live in a bar of soap, they like the water on the surface that can be washed away. But what is the highest percentage of ingredient in liquid soap? Indeed: WATER!
You'll probably find those liquid soap dispensers with a pump handy, but how often do you clean the top of your liquid soap dispenser?
If you use liquid hand soap in your own bathroom or kitchen, remember to clean the pump regularly. You're constantly touching that pump with dirty hands.
If you use liquid soap to refill that fancy dispenser in your bathroom or kitchen, make sure to clean the dispenser thoroughly between refills and to clean the pump often. Since liquid soap is usually water, a bacterial film can remain on the inside of the soap dispenser, in the pump and on the pump if it is not cleaned properly. Make sure to let it dry completely before refilling.
Even if you use disposable bottles of (phew..) liquid soap in the toilet you have to clean the pump often - just think about what people did just before they pressed that pump dispenser. (I think I'd rather use a bar of soap!)
If you use a liquid soap dispenser in your kitchen, there are other problems. Wash your hands every time you touch raw meat, raw chicken, etc. or anything dirty. So you press the top of that dispenser and leave all the wonderful bacteria behind.
A few more notes about liquid soaps:
Since the first ingredient is water, liquid soaps require a synthetic preservative to prevent germ growth. These preservatives do not always work and are not good for the environment.
Bars of soap are usually not used in toilets and shower rooms of offices, schools, sports facilities etc., but microbiologists have found that a quarter of the liquid soap and dispensers in those areas are so contaminated with high concentrations of nasty bacteria that even after washing you hands are actually less clean than before washing. Usually they are not cleaned first when refilled and are full of bacteria, including many that cause disease.
Be careful, even if the commercial liquid soaps contain antibacterial agents designed to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Many scientists believe that the effectiveness of these antibacterials can be compromised because the chemicals break down over time and you have no idea how old the liquid soap is.
In summary, liquid soap and body wash are usually (fortunately there are exceptions, but they are expensive) are made with synthetic agents, fragrances and preservatives that offer no benefits to our bodies and are harmful to the environment.
I myself have never doubted the purity of our natural soaps and have been using it for many years, every day and also when traveling. That is also allowed with every flight because it is not a liquid! Our travel buddy keep them nice and dry and in shape.