Bar soap vs. Liquid soap: Which is better?


There are many good reasons to buy soap by the bar: it is cheaper, causes less packaging waste and is also more economical to use. In short, a bar of soap is good for your wallet and better for the environment. But is bar soap also good for your health?

Especially in times of Corona, we have inevitably become hand-washing professionals and are increasingly concerned with hand hygiene. So if a bar of soap goes through many dirty hands every day in the bathroom and is also always in the damp soap dish, can this soap then really be hygienic – or are bars of soap germ slingers?

Does liquid soap work differently from solid soap?

The short answer to this is: No. No matter which format you choose, your hands will get clean no matter what. Chemically, both types work on the same principle and are in no way inferior to each other in cleaning power.

But is solid soap really hygienic?

Many people think that bars of soap are unhygienic. But when it comes to germ formation, they are by no means as bad as assumed. As early as 1988, scientists mixed bars of soap with bacteria as part of a study to see whether they could be transmitted in this way. With the result: no. Virtually no germs could be detected on the hands of the people examined. Other recent studies also show that the bacterial population on solid soap is comparatively low when the skin flora is taken into account.

Dr. Yael Adler, dermatologist from Berlin and author of the bestseller Skin close: Everything over our largest organ and “One does not speak about it ! Away with the body taboos!”knows the study situation to this topic and confirms that the transmission and infection risks are quite small to not existing. “Soap is not a place where pathogens feel at home,” the expert clarifies.

By the way: Microorganisms can also live on a soap dispenser. After all, the pump lever is touched again and again. “But that’s no reason to worry,” knows Andrea Sättler, Director for Body, Skin and Oral Care R&D at Henkel. “The bacteria are rinsed off again with the foam.”Nevertheless, the expert recommends cleaning the pump dispenser regularly.

Which is better: soap in one bar or liquid?

You probably know this: With a pump shot on the liquid soap often comes out more than would be necessary for a hand wash – and the hands dry out unnecessarily strong. If you ask dermatologists like Dr. Adler, the tendency is to use solid soap formats.

“A wash is more skin-friendly because fewer washing substances attack the protective barrier of the skin.

Intermediate conclusion: bar soap is thus even preferable to conventional liquid soap. Because the skin barrier remains rather intact with it. But you can wash your hands even more gently. Dr Adler recommends “synthetic detergents (surfactants)” instead of classic soap Syndets for short.

Why does soap stress the skin?

Skin experts warn against the excessive use of soap, whether in liquid or solid form. This is because they can gradually irritate the skin’s natural protective layer, which can lead to irritation, eczema and even contact allergies. This is due to the alkaline nature of soaps.

Depending on the type of soap, the pH value can vary between 9 and 11. For comparison: the skin has a pH value of about 5. “When washing with regular soap, the skin’s pH rises more and then takes a few hours to return to its natural level – and that’s regardless of whether it’s industrial or organic soap,” dermatologist Adler explains.

“This weakens the habitat of the “dear” bouncer bacteria on the skin that protect us and drive away unwanted pathogens. It is therefore better to use a soap-free wash, as it is economical in consumption and at the same time adjusted to an acidic pH value.”It is best to use products with sugar and coconut surfactants, which are the least degreasing.

Why are syndets better than soap?

Syndets come in liquid and solid versions. Both versions are said to be gentler on the skin than soap, due to their comparatively lower pH – perfect for sensitive skin.

By the way: Many supposed soaps in the trade are actually syndets. When buying, look out for terms such as “soap-free”, “pH-neutral” or the pH value 5.5. This is how you can be sure.

No matter which variant you choose: Your hands will be equally clean. However, bars of soap dry out your skin less than classic liquid soap. Even gentler are syndets – soap-free washing pieces or liquid washing emulsions. This keeps your skin healthy despite frequent washing in corona times.

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