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Choosing Between Hand Soap and Body Wash: Differences

Soap is an essential item in every household. We all depend on soap to keep our bodies and environment clean and germ-free. Typically, hand soap comes in a larger size at a reasonable price than body wash.

Sometimes you may run out of body wash; bar soap is the only alternative within your reach. Can these two be used interchangeably? All soaps do the same thing. However, they differ in ingredients and the stain removal mechanism.

So, can you bathe using hand soap instead of a body wash? Absolutely. However, it is essential to understand that it comprises different ingredients that may be harsh on your skin. Therefore, using hand soap in place of body wash requires deep considerations.

Please keep reading to learn more about effects on the body and their differences, including the components each constitutes. 

Can You Use Hand Soap As Body Wash?

Hand Soap and Body Wash

Both products are cleaning agents with surfactants (molecules that reduce the surface tension of the water) to interact with dirt and oil easily. While both items have cleansing properties, they do contain noticeable differences.

Therefore, body wash has a lower pH than hand soap, meaning its potential to irritate the skin is minimal. Body washes also have fragrances, among other ingredients that assist in moisturizing your skin.

On the other hand, hand soaps tend to have a higher pH meaning they can be more drying and irritating to your skin. They don’t have any moisturizing ingredients for body washes.

Here is a snippet of the ingredients

Hand soap( Common Ingredients) Body wash(  Common Ingredients)

Citrus extracts




Petroleum jelly


Antibacterial agents

Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Lauryl sulfate

Aloe vera

Coconut oil


Sunflower oil

Vitamin E

Jojoba oil


The soaps usually contain a blend of lye, sodium hydroxide, and fats like palm oil to keep the bar solid at room temperatures and to control how strong the soap feels on your skin. They don’t lather as much as body washes because they contain higher pH, which makes them more drying and irritating to the skin.

Contrary to soaps, body wash involves more moisturizing ingredients as they contain a lower pH with less chance of drying out your skin.

What Happens If You Bath With Hand Soap?

Dry and irritate your skin- The higher pH levels strips your body of the natural oils that protect your skin: irritation, damage, stinging, or burning results from many acids in the soap.

Change in skin structure- too much alkaline soap makes the skin lose its natural oils and destroys proteins which affect the system of the skin.

Alters the skin’s microbiota (good bacteria) and enzyme activity in the skin’s surface layers with a suitable PH resulting in severe skin destruction

Antibacterial soaps can destroy the skin’s microbiota making it more prone to contamination.

Soaps are suitable for hand washing, but if you have to use hand soap as a body wash, ensure you apply a moisturizer to help replenish the natural oils stripped away. Alternatively, use less soap to prevent severe drying.

If you have sensitive skin, you may get away with using hand soap but keep your skin healthy by using a moisturizer.

How to Choose a Good Body Wash

For the best skincare and to avoid irritating or drying your skin, your body wash should have moisturizing and nourishing ingredients. Try to avoid heavy perfumes or added coloring as much as you can. Scents also add an unnecessary amount of chemicals that never last long.

Here is what a good body wash should consist of:

  • It is eco-friendly (environment friendly) to a degree
  • Unnatural synthetic color chemicals
  • Recommended ingredients that best clean sweat and other body odors
  • It should work for washing your hair in addition to your body.
  • It is non-allergenic to avoid allergy symptoms or having a breakout

How Is Body Wash Different From Hand Soap

    • The body wash is gentler on the skin compared to hand soap which can be harsh due to its ingredients. 
    • The body wash is more hygienic than the soap, which is susceptible to bacteria growth because it sits stagnant after use.
    • With a body wash, there is no pile of soap or drop in the drain as in the case of bar soap. Once wet, it slips into the gutter. 
  • Body wash forms a richer lather than hand soap due to their different ingredients.

What Alternatives Can You Use If Your Body Wash Runs Out?

Hand Soap and Body Wash


Shampoo can double as a body wash as it is designed to cleanse your hair, but it can clean your body too as it suds easily, which aids in removing dirt and oil from your skin. Additionally, it has similar ingredients as body wash, therefore very effective. Choose a shampoo that is gentle and free of harsh chemicals.

Castile Soap 

It is vegetable-based soap made with natural ingredients without any harsh chemicals making it ideal for people with sensitive skin. Castile soap can be used as a laundry detergent, shampoo, or body wash.

It is excellent for various home cleaning and hygiene options and usually comes in a concentrated form, meaning a little goes a long way.

Baking Soda

It is gentle and non-irritating, and perfect for people with sensitive skin. I am wondering how you can use it. Add baking soda to a damp washcloth and rub it over your skin. Rinse with warm water followed by a moisturizer.

It will remove odors from your skin while leaving it feeling soft and smooth.

Face Wash

It is a better alternative solution for both washes and shampoo. It is gentle on your skin, leaving you to feel refreshed. Ensure you use the one that is free of chemicals.

Can Body Wash Be Used as Hand soap?

Yes, body wash and shower plus shower gel have a relative formulation to soap. Both contain ingredients that will get your hands clean and remove germs without drying your skin out.

It is not harmful to use hand soap as a body wash. However, it should not be used as a long-term option. It would be best if you use body wash often. It is crucial to get a hand soap that has no harsh chemicals. Alternatively, you can use other suggested options if you run out of body wash.