There's evidence of soap right back to 2800 B.C. Originally ashes and animal fats were combined and was commonly used for treating skin diseases and washing. There's a fantastic article here about the history of soap. But, it lost it's way a little when myths about bar soap being unhygienic started to circulate. I wanted to take the time to cover a few of the most common bar soap myths:
A bar of soap passes on germs - Much of the concern surrounding bar soap is the idea of bacteria living on the surface. Studies show that this needn't be a concern - even if bacteria is present on bar soap the evidence shows that transmission is highly unlikely - this article sums it up. Liquid pump dispensers can also harbour bacteria, though as long as you wash your hands thoroughly and don't touch the dispenser again, the soap will do it's job to wash the bacteria away.
Antibacterial soap is better than just soap - “Antibacterial” simply means that the soap has active antimicrobial ingredients added to it. Plain soap cleans in a mechanical way - it breaks down and lifts the microbes away from the skin and these are then washed away when you rinse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there isn’t any additional benefit to using antibacterial soap over using plain soap.
“Studies have not found any added health benefit from using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients when compared with plain soap. Both are equally effective in getting rid of germs.” Handwashing poster CDC.gov
“Handwashing has been clearly shown to prevent a variety of diseases and is one of the most important ways to protect oneself and others from infections. To date, studies have shown that there is no added health benefit for consumers using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients compared with using plain soap.” https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/publications-data-stats.html
Bar soap dries out your skin - The job of soap is to clean. That is it’s primary function. Part of that means that it will pick up oil from your hands. There are some soaps out there that will do that, and only that. Whereas generally speaking, handmade artisan soap has been made with specific oils and butters to also moisturise skin. A lot of mainstream ‘soap’ (bar or liquid) uses synthetic surfactants to help create a bubbly lather, some of which do a very good job of stripping and drying out your skin. My soaps contain olive oil and shea butter to moisturise and leave your hands feeling clean and cared for.
Bar soap is more expensive than liquid - It’s actually the opposite way around. Whilst the initial cost of a bar of soap may seem higher than liquid, people use seven times more liquid soap per washing than bar soap, according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology. You’ll probably find you use two or three bottles of liquid soap in the same time it takes to use one 100g bar (providing you care for it and allow it to dry out between uses). So in the long run it looks to be much more cost effective to buy bars.
Bar soap creates more environmental waste - According to an analysis of how bar soaps and liquid soaps affect the environment, it was found that liquid soaps have a 25% larger carbon footprint compared to bar soap. This is in large part dependant on packaging. My soaps are wrapped with home compostable paper so you can ensure there is nothing left behind. Any other packaging I use such as void fill, boxes, paper wrapping is all home compostable and recyclable. If for any reason you cannot deal with any of the packaging please get in touch and I will be happy to arrange for it’s return where I will either reuse or compost it.
Did you know?
- Nationwide, we use 7.7 billion plastic bottles per year. That’s an average of 117 bottles per person, per year.
- Despite a ‘War on Plastic’ we recycle just 45% of plastics in the UK.
- That means 55% of all our plastic waste ends up in landfills, or indeed, the ocean.
- 8 million tonnes of the world’s plastics end up in our oceans each year, creating a garbage patch three times the size of France.
- Plastics from items such as carrier bags and bottles that end up in our oceans kill around 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.
- Plastic rubbish in the British countryside kills thousands of land animals every year.
Were you hesitant to use bar soap because of some of these myths? Have these answers changed your mind? Have you heard other things about soap that haven't been answered here? Please do let me know!Want to show your support for this post? Why not buy me a coffee?