What to Use if You Run Out of Hand Soap

Photo: Daisy Daisy, Shutterstock
Photo: Daisy Daisy, Shutterstock

So you’re running dangerously low on hand soap in the middle of a global pandemic, and refills are hard to come by thanks to supply chain issues and ongoing panic buying. Or maybe you can’t venture out to the store to buy more until well after you’ve run out. You still need to wash your hands frequently — what to do?

Turns out you can use other types of soap you have around your house to wash your hands, including dish soap, body wash and bar soap. As medical experts told The Strategist, other types of soap can make fine substitutes for hand soap, though some are better alternatives than others.

Here are a few you can use:

  1. Bar soap. Bar soap is cheap and lasts a long time — just make sure it’s stored in a dry place when not in use.
  2. Body wash. Experts say body wash is generally most similar to hand soap since it’s meant for, well, your skin.
  3. Shampoo. Some shampoos will leave a weird residue on your skin, but they’ll work just fine for washing away germs.
  4. Dish soap. This one should be your last choice if you have other options, as it may be more irritating to your skin if used all day, every day. But you can use it in a pinch.

According to the CDC, it doesn’t much matter if your soap is marketed as antibacterial — its guidelines say that “there is no added health benefit for consumers… using soaps containing antibacterial ingredients compared with using plain soap.” And while hand sanitiser is an option (though maybe even less available in many places than actual soap), soap and water are generally recommended for washing when possible.

So if you need to use a hand soap alternative, you can. The important thing is that you continue to wash your hands regularly and continue following the best practices we’ve been talking about for months: wash with soap for at least 20 seconds and with warm, clean, running water. And it probably won’t hurt to apply lotion when you’re done.

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