Is Bar Soap Clean or is it Crawling with Germs?

Logically speaking, we want to clean our bodies with something clean. This is why some of us might ask some interesting questions about soap – specifically bar soaps. Because unlike liquid soap that we dispense from a container, we leave bar soaps out in the open and vulnerable to all the germs in our shower. Then we rub that same bar on our washcloth, all over our body, or in a loofah over and over again until it runs out. 

So, the question is, if you use bar soap, are you rubbing a lot of germs all over yourself? In this article, we are going to explain what’s going on when you use bar soap.

Are There any Germs on Your Bar of Soap?

Well, according to experts, there are a ton of germs on your bar soap, and most of it probably came from your own skin. This is because about half of the cells in our body are bacteria, and most of them live on our skin. These bacteria help to make up what is called the skin microbiome. This is essential to our immune system because it helps to protect us from invading pathogens. That is why putting some microorganisms from our skin to the soap and back to our skin is not a big deal. 

Using a loofah or a washcloth can also help put germs onto the bar soap. This is because these things can contain several nooks and crannies that can attract more microorganisms and skin cells, serving as food for potential pathogens. This is because loofahs and washcloths can stay moist for long periods, which helps promote the growth of bacteria and mold. This is also the case for the soap ledge or holder where you rest your soap. If the soap holder is constantly wet, it can be a breeding ground for better microbial growth that can later transfer to your soap. 

How Does a Bar Soap Actually Work on Germs?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a bar soap works by physically washing away dirt and microorganisms in your skin. Bar soap contains compounds called surfactants that physically remove debris and germs as soon as you add water. Rubbing the soap in your face or body until it foams up washes away even more dirt and bacteria. If you have a bar of antibacterial bar soap, it also uses the same compound to kill germs. According to the CDC, you do not need to use antibacterial soaps because plain soap is just as effective at getting rid of germs. 

As you use your bar soap with water, the concentration of microorganisms such as bacteria dilutes with the sap. It literally washes down the drain. But some of them do not go all the way down the drain, which is why we advise that you clean your feet and tub frequently, too. 

It takes approximately 15 to 20 seconds for water and soap to effectively wash away the dirt as well as transient microorganisms. 

Can Germs in a Bar of Soap Make You Sick? 

According to experts, it is unlikely that a bar soap will make you ill in some way since most of the microorganisms that are living in it come from you. Even if it comes to the other bacteria that the bar soap may pick up, it usually does not cause problems. 

However, there are a few exceptions, such as if you have an open wound that can easily allow pathogens to enter your body quickly or if you’re immunocompromised for any reason. You cannot fight back any disease-causing bacteria or germs. 

Aside from that, some people may carry germs or bacteria on their skin that aren’t disease-causing but could be harmful to someone else. That is why you should also be mindful of who you share the bar of soap with because it could help transmit a virus such as the flu or common cold. 


You cannot guarantee that the bar soap you use will always be 99.9% germ-free, but it helps if you know how to keep it safe and clean as it is. Always remember to work up a lather for at least 15 seconds before you start to use the soap to wash your hands or body. As much as possible, avoid using a washcloth or a loofah if you’re using bar soap, and always try to keep the bar soap dry in between uses so that bacteria would not build up.