Cleaning Services Questions: How Dirty is a Bar of Soap?

Cleaning Services Questions: How Dirty is a Bar of Soap?

Cleaning services vendors often deal with complex problems and challenges on a daily basis, including germs and bacteria, mysteriously present on the surface of bar soap.

Cleaning Services Questions: How Dirty is a Bar of Soap - Fresno CA

Cleaning Services Mysteries and the Case of the Soiled Soap

Do soap bars contain germs and bacteria?

Yes, and unsealed liquid soap dispensers may be even worse.

According to a series of recent laboratory and field studies;

[sic]...research confirms previous work demonstrating a strong association between open bulk-soap-refillable soap dispensers and extrinsic bacterial soap contamination and demonstrates that washing with contaminated soap poses a potential public health risk in community settings.

Bacterial Hand Contamination and Transfer after Use of Contaminated Bulk-Soap-Refillable Dispensers


Cleaning Services Questions How Dirty is a Bar of Soap - Quote


 Does Soap Kill Germs and Bacteria?

Given the measurable presence of germs and bacteria on bars of soap, or inside unsealed liquid soap dispensers, consumers are justified in questioning; does soap kill germs and bacteria?

The answer may surprise you.

Regular (non-antisceptic/antibacterial) soap does not kill germs or bacteria.

Instead, regular soap facilitates a chemical reaction between it, and soil, germs, and bacteria, that encapsulates the microbes, which are then washed away with water.

Antiseptic or, more commonly, antibacterial soaps typically contain a chemical called Triclosan, which attacks an enzyme present in microbial organisms, such as infectious bacteria--killing the microbe, then washing away with soap and water.


Cleaning Services Questions: How Dirty is a Bar of Soap? - Triclosan



This enzyme is not present in humans, so Triclosan does not affect people.

The problem is that Triclosan also kills microbial organisms that live on human skin and other surfaces that, at the least, keep infectious microorganisms at bay; competing against them for food and livable space.

Killing these 'good' microbes along with the 'bad' has, what many believe, contributed to the rise in antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA.

Further, the FDA has concluded that several chemicals contained in consumer antiseptic soaps have not been proven to provide any measurable benefit or protection to humans outside of healthcare, childcare, or food preparation environments, and has banned the use of said chemicals due, in part, to their contribution to increased instances of MRSA and other antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and germs.

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So, why not just use water?

The chemical makeup of water renders it ineffective at attracting and dislodging soil and microbial organisms.

Due to the oily and fatty chemical compounds that are used to manufacture soap, the combination of both regular (non-antisceptic) soap and water has been shown to be extremely effective at removing (not killing) microbial organisms without damaging the natural balance of good bacteria present in humans and our surroundings, or facilitating an environment that furthers the evolution of deadly antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.


Green Cleaning Tips

  • Avoid the use of bar soap in public restrooms, sinks, and kitchens.
  • If you have no choice in the use of bar soap in a public setting, rinse the bar in warm water for 30 seconds before scrubbing.
  • Avoid the use of bulk-fill (not sealed) liquid soap in public settings.  There is no safe alternative to this, so make sure to keep hand sanitizing wipes or liquid available for emergencies.
  • Upgrade your organization's liquid soap dispensers to facilitate sealed package options and avoid the potentially dangerous spread of germs and bacteria.
  • Avoid the unnecessary use of antiseptic/antibacterial soaps in favor of regular soap and water, except where mandated by your profession, and specifically within healthcare, childcare, and food preparation work environments.
  • Always scrub your hands thoroughly--at least 30 seconds--making sure to get under nails and between fingers.
  • Rinse your hands in a downward direction, away from your body, towards the sink, and dry your hands thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer.

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References & Resources



To answer the age old question; yes, soap can have germs and bacteria on it.

The reason is twofold:

  • Non-antibacterial soap does not kill microbes, and;
  • Soap is used to attract and encapsulate soil and other bacteria which can remain on the bar if not rinsed off.

The real danger is in the use of liquid soap dispensers that do not use sealed packaging, as they have been shown to house dangerous levels of certain types of infectious disease, which can be spread quickly if the user does not scrub and rinse effectively.

Further complications can arise from the excessive and unnecessary use of antibacterial soap, where regular soap and warm water would suffice.

If you would like to learn more about the advantages of green cleaning services for your school or business, contact us today for a free quote!

In Bakersfield CA, call (661) 395-3009

In Fresno CA, call (559) 473-1790

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Southern Valley

Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Southern Valley