plastic free soap

Day 27: Swap to Bar Soap

It’s common knowledge that washing your hands is important for your health – but have you ever stopped to think about the soap you’re using? Is it liquid soap in a plastic bottle with a pump, or is it a plastic free soap, like a bar of soap? Nowadays, it’s most common to find liquid soaps in both public and private restrooms, but it wasn’t always this way. Before 1979, liquid hand soap didn’t exist and it was the norm to use a bar of soap. Should we revert back to our old ways? Which option is better for the environment? Let’s compare the two.

Which type of soap do people prefer and why?

Though liquid and bar soaps are equally cleansing, people tend to prefer liquid soap. Understandably, there is something a bit off-putting about reaching for a bar of soap to wash your hands, only to find it wet and soggy. However, there is an easy fix to the soggy soap issue – you simply need the correct soap dish. Look for a dish that allows the soap to air out and dry. I love this one from Etsy, which features a bamboo grid for the soap to rest on, and a cornstarch dish beneath for the water to drain into. Not only will this allow you to avoid the soggy soap ick, but it will also make your bar of soap last longer.

plastic pump soap

Hygiene concerns of plastic free soap

The biggest argument against bar soap is hygiene. Naturally, you might think that washing your hands with a bar of soap that someone else has just used would result in transferring their germs to your own hands. Studies have proven this incorrect. In one study, test bars of soap were actually loaded with 70 times the amount of contaminants that are found on an average bar of soap. Sixteen volunteers then used this bar of soap and then had their hands examined. It was determined that none of the volunteers’ hands showed any sign of the contaminates or bacteria, and thus, transfer of bacteria from bar to the skin is not an issue.

Environmental impact of non plastic free soap

There are a few things to consider when weighing the environmental impact of each type of soap. Liquid soaps require five times more energy than bar soaps for raw material production – plus, nearly twenty times more energy for packaging production. This means that their carbon footprint is also higher. This is not even accounting for the amount of plastic that they add to our ever growing plastic problem.

Bar soaps, on the other hand, have been found to have a greater impact on the land. They typically contain ingredients derived from vegetable oils. The impact of farmed crops and agriculture needed to create the vegetable oils is a considerable impact on our environment. It’s also important to note that we use more water when washing with bar soap than with liquid soap.

On the flip side, people tend to use more liquid soap per wash then they do with a bar of soap. Up to six times more, in fact! For this reason, bar soap lasts much longer. This is important to consider, as the environmental impact is greater for products you must buy more often.

Alternatives to bar soap

While I urge you to try a good soap dish before skipping bar soap altogether, it’s understandable that liquid soap can be a hard habit to quit. If you must continue using it, opt for purchasing it at a bulk store. Simply bring an old soap container to the store, measure its weight, and refill it. This way, you will get infinite uses out of the same soap container. Check out my bulk store guide, here.

Don’t forget to comment below and tell me if you’re team bar soap or team pump soap!

Mia Hadrill
1 Comment
  • Jimmy Gould

    27/06/2021 at 4:30 pm

    Simple solution – a SoapStandle (it’s new so understandable that you haven’t heard of it). Eliminates bar soap goo, no gooey mess on the bar or counter / shower ledge, bar lasts longer… and the bar doesn’t slip from your hand.

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