The humble bar of soap is ready for a comeback. Using a bar of soap is a simple and effective way to clean your body, face, and dishes.
I’ve been making the switch to bar soap (and shampoo/conditioner) to try to reduce plastic waste after learning that most plastic is not recycled, despite consumers’ best efforts to recycle plastic after use.
While plastic production is expected to triple by 2050, only a small portion of that is expected to be recycled (source: NPR). So, to reduce plastic waste in my home, I’m slowly switching to plastic-free packaged goods.
One way to reduce plastic consumption is by switching from liquid to bar soap. Did you know that bar soap can be used for more than just washing hands and body? Bar soap can also be used for dishwashing, face washing, and even laundry.
In this blog post, I’m sharing tips on how to use bar soap around the home.
Benefits of Bar Soap
Plastic Free & Sustainable
Because soap bars are solid, they require less packaging than liquid soap. Additionally, the packaging is more likely to be plastic-free (often made of cardboard), so consumers can avoid plastic altogether when purchasing bar soap.
“But I buy my liquid soap in bulk!” Here’s a stat — liquid soap production requires five times more energy for raw material and almost 20 times more energy for packaging production than a bar of soap (source: Irish Times). So, even if you buy liquid soap in large, bulk packaging, bar soap is still more environmentally sustainable.
Lastly, because bar soaps are often sold at farmer’s markets or local artisan shops, you can purchase locally made soap bars and support small business artisans in your local maker economy.
Because bar soaps are compact and solid, they are extremely convenient for travel. With bar soap, you won’t have to worry about any risk of spilling or exceeding liquid restrictions.
You can even cut a larger bar of soap into smaller pieces to save space in your toiletry bag for short trips.
Contain travel bar soap in a tin, or wrap it in a small washcloth or a muslin bag before placing it in a toiletry bag. Easy!
If you’ve ever had a bar of soap seemingly last forever, you’re not alone. With bar soap, you’re less likely to use excess soap as you may with liquid soap.
Also, with liquid soap, you end up paying for a lot of water in the soap formula. A single soap bar can provide months of use with proper usage and storage.
Gentle and Effective
Bar soap comes in various formulations with ingredients that are great for your skin and won’t strip away natural oils.
I look for formulations including moisturizing ingredients like shea butter, goat milk, lavender, aloe vera, and more.
Like liquid soaps, there is a wide variety of bar soap formulations, shapes, sizes, and colors.
You can purchase exfoliating bar soaps, scented bar soaps, unscented bar soaps, and soaps made from coconut oil, olive oil, or even lard.
How to Use a Bar of Soap
How to Use Bar Soap for Face Wash
Using a bar of soap can be a gentle yet effective method to wash your face. But don’t just use any bar of soap. It’s important to use a soap suited for delicate facial skin (source: Healthline).
I recommend looking for gentle, pH-balanced options specifically formulated for facial use. Consider your skin type and any specific skincare concerns when choosing a bar soap for face wash.
I love this face wash bar from HiBar that I use to remove makeup after oil cleansing with a washcloth. The version I have gets a little mushy in the heat, but upon reading reviews, they’ve improved the formula, so I hope that’s no longer an issue.
For steps on how to use a bar of soap, read on:
1. Wet your face: Splash water onto your face with lukewarm water (make sure your hands are clean!).
2. Wet the bar soap: Wet the bar soap under running water to create a lather.
3. Lather up: Rub the wet bar soap between your hands to create a rich lather. However, not all soaps lather the same and you don’t always need much for an effective cleanse.
4. Apply to your face: With your hands, gently massage the lather onto your face using circular motions. Focus on areas prone to oiliness or dirt buildup. Take your time here! Also, make sure to avoid the eyes.
5. Rinse off: Thoroughly rinse your face with lukewarm water, ensuring all soap residue is washed away.
7. Pat dry: Gently pat your face dry with a clean towel after rinsing. Avoid rubbing, as it can cause irritation.
How to Use Bar Soap for Body Wash
Even after shower gels were invented in the 1800s, the term body wash didn’t crop up until the 1980s (if you want to dive deep, this is an interesting read on marketing and terminology for body wash!).
Nowadays, there are a range of products that you can choose from. If you prefer a moisturizing soap, there are a variety of options with shea butter and other moisturizers. If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, even higher-end brands offer body bars.
For example, Necessaire, a trending personal care brand that is B Corp Certified and sustainability-focused, has an exfoliating body bar.
Here’s how to use bar soap for body wash:
1. Wet your body: Start by wetting your body thoroughly in the shower or bath.
2. Wet the bar soap: Wet the bar soap under running water to create a lather.
3. Lather up: Rub the wet bar soap between your hands or directly on your body to create a rich lather. Optional: Use a washcloth at this stage to create a rich lather and exfoliate the skin.
4. Apply to your body: Apply the lathered soap to your body using your hands. Use gentle circular motions to cleanse your skin thoroughly.
5. Rinse off: Rinse your body with water, washing all soap residue away.
6. Pat dry: After rinsing, gently pat your skin dry with a towel. Optional: Moisturize afterward.
To prolong its lifespan, remember to store your bar soap in a dry, well-drained area between uses. Enjoy the benefits of bar soap as a body wash for clean and refreshed skin.
How to Use Bar Soap for Washing Hands
Using a bar of soap to wash your hands is probably the easiest switch from liquid soaps. All you need is a bar of soap and a soap dish and you can get started.
Now remember, if you still have liquid soap go ahead and finish the product you already have.
I also sometimes put liquid soap out for when we have guests over because other people are more used to liquid soaps, but maybe one day I’ll make a change there, too – baby steps, right?
You might wonder if you can use bar soap in a household with multiple people. In most cases, studies have found little risk of transmitting germs via a bar of soap.
Also, the FDA has stated that you don’t need to use antibacterial soaps. In fact, you shouldn’t. It isn’t necessarily more effective and can contribute to antibiotic resistance.
As far as steps go, here’s how to use bar soap for handwashing:
1. Wet your hands: Begin by wetting your hands thoroughly with clean, running water.
2. Lather up: Grab the bar soap and rub it between your hands to create a rich lather. Ensure both hands are well-coated with soap.
3. Scrub your hands: Rub your hands together, including the backs, between fingers, and under nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds, following proper handwashing guidelines.
4. Rinse off: Rinse your hands thoroughly under running water, allowing the soap suds to wash away.
5. Dry your hands: Use a clean towel or air-dry your hands. If using a towel, make sure it’s clean and designated for hand drying.
You can effectively cleanse your hands using bar soap by following these steps. Be sure to store your bar soap in a dry place between uses to extend its longevity.
How to Use Bar Soap for Washing Dishes
Using a dish block or bar soap for washing dishes is my next frontier. I haven’t tried a dish soap bar personally, but I’m excited to experiment.
With that said, our editor Kait has been using a bar of dish soap for years with great success! You can see her method in the video below:
Beyond the plastic-free component, I think dish blocks look so pretty. I was recently on vacation in France and spotted a soap product like this in an open-air market – it is so charming! I could envision it sitting next to the kitchen sink.
Here’s how to use bar soap or a dish block for dishwashing:
1. Wet your sponge, dishcloth, or dish brush: Begin by wetting your sponge, dishcloth, or dish brush with warm water.
2. Rub the bar soap: Rub your dish cleaning tool (dish brush or sponge) directly onto the bar soap to create a lather. Make sure to coat it evenly.
3. Wash the dishes: Use your cleaning tool to scrub and clean your dishes, pots, and utensils. Apply gentle pressure and scrub away food residue and grease.
4. Rinse the dishes: Rinse each dish thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.
5. Dry the dishes: Use a dish rack, towel, or air-dry your dishes to complete the process.
Note: Bar soap may not produce as much suds as dishwashing liquid, but it can still effectively clean your dishes. Ensure the soap is thoroughly rinsed off after each use to prevent any residual taste or scent from building up.
How to Make Bar Soap Last
The key to making bar soap last is to store it properly. Storing your bar soap in a way that allows it to dry between uses will keep it lasting longer.
For example, you can use a soap dish with drainage, which prevents bar soap from sitting in water.
You can use a soap-saver bag once you get down to those little bits of bar soap. These bags allow you to place your last bits of soap inside a small bag to more easily create a rich lather and use them up.
Our editor, Kait has even experimented with DIY soap dish hacks like this one to make her bar soaps last:
Now you might be wondering, does soap expire? In most cases, soap won’t expire the same way that food or perishable items do.
Bar soaps can be saved and used for a long time (we’re talking 1-2 years or more!) without any issues.
Over time, however, soap may lose its fragrance and become less effective at producing a lather. If your soap bar smells rancid or no longer produces lather, it may be time to discard it.
Bar soaps are generally better for the environment compared to liquid soaps. They require less packaging and contribute to reduced plastic waste. Additionally, bar soaps tend to have a smaller carbon footprint due to their concentrated form, lighter weight during transportation, and decreased energy consumption in manufacturing.
Not necessarily. It’s up to you. You can directly apply the bar soap to your wet hands or body and lather it before rinsing off. You can use a washcloth if you prefer a richer lather and would like some gentle exfoliation.
If you use a washcloth, I recommend getting a multipack so you always have a fresh one. After use, hang to dry and wash after 1-2 uses.
After showering, I recommend you store the bar soap in a dry, well-drained area to prolong its lifespan, such as a shower ledge that isn’t hit directly by the shower stream. Keep the bar soap in a soap dish or soap-saver to keep it dry and prevent it from getting mushy.
Rinsing a soap bar after using it is a good practice to remove any residue or soap scum. It helps to keep the bar clean and ready for the next use. In case you’re wondering, multiple studies have found that there is little risk of transmitting germs via a bar of soap.
Yes, a bar of soap can be used directly on the skin. Wet the bar and rub it gently on your skin to create a lather. Then, massage the lather onto your body before rinsing off with water.