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Bar Soap vs Liquid Soap: The winner might surprise you

bar soap vs liquid soap

Years ago I’m sad to say I was part of the liquid soap revolution. Bar soap was the only real option before liquid soaps came along. Liquid soaps were convenient, less messy and new and so many people switched. More recently natural soap bars have made a comeback and I for one switched back, but how does bar soap compare to liquid soap these days?

Bar soap and liquid soap have some excellent properties including being great cleansers as well as being hygienic and hydrating. Bar soaps are more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and have better ingredients however liquid soap comes in many varieties and is ideal for shared settings.

Let’s have a look at both types of soaps in more detail to see how they compare against each other.

By the way, as more of a general comparison, I wrote another article “Are Natural Soaps Better? Why switching is a game changer” which you may want to read next.

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Take Me There

Before you get started I’ve put my findings in a handy comparison table.

FactorsBar SoapLiquid Soap
Hygiene & BacteriaEffective with regular handwashingEffective with regular handwashing
CostMore economical in the long runSlightly more expensive over time
Environmentally FriendlyMinimal packaging, zero wasteContained in plastic bottles contributes to waste
Skin HydrationSome can be drying, but moisturizing options are availableMoisturizing formulations available
Facial CleansingFewer options availableMilder formulations for facial use
IngredientsSimple formulations with fewer or no additivesMost contain chemicals to enhance fragrance and longevity
AllergiesMinimal, natural ingredients Potential for ingredients to cause allergies or irritation
SharingLess convenient and hygienic in shared settingsDispensing reduces cross-contamination risk
Bar Soap vs Liquid Soap (comparison table)

What is Bar Soap

Bar soap is a cleansing product that comes in solid form, usually in bars or blocks.

Soap bars have been used for centuries, composed of different ingredients, including oils, fats, water, lye, and sometimes additional additives like fragrances, essential oils, or botanical extracts.

Originally bar soap was made from animal fats but thankfully consumer vegan preferences have now led manufacturers to use vegetable oils like coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, or shea butter making natural plant-based soaps sometimes known as vegan soaps.

Bar soap is often associated just with handwashing but nowadays soap bars can be used for cleansing the body and face and with the recent production of shampoo and conditioner bars you can also wash your hair with solid soaps.

As someone with sensitive skin, I’m pleased to say that concerns over specific skin types have since been addressed making bar soap available to all.

Overall, bar soap remains a popular and effective choice for cleansing.

What is Liquid Soap

Liquid soap is a cleansing product that comes in a liquid or gel used for handwashing, body cleansing, and facial cleansing.

Unlike bar soaps which need water to create a lather liquid soap has already been diluted making it convenient and easy to apply

Liquid soaps tend to consist of water, oils or fats, surfactants (surface-active agents), emulsifiers, preservatives, fragrances, and other additives.

There’s no doubt that liquid soap is convenient especially where frequent handwashing is necessary.

Being able to dispense soap with just one hand makes it ideal for public places such as restaurants.

As a general rule, liquid soaps are packaged in plastic containers making them a real problem for our environment.

Overall, liquid soap provides a convenient and versatile option for cleansing.

Bar Soap and Liquid Soap Compared

During my research, I looked at the various factors around soap, and what makes each type good or bad.

Hygiene and Bacteria

bar soap vs liquid soap hygiene and bacteria
Bar Soap Compared to Liquid Soap – Hygiene & Bacteria

What I’ve found is that when it comes to hygiene bar soap and liquid soap are just as effective as each other.

They can both remove dirt, germs and bacteria from your skin equally.

When liquid soap started to be sold one of the main selling points was around bacteria.

Liquid soap companies suggested that bacteria can harbour in soap bars which to a certain extent is true but liquid soaps can also retain bacteria on the pump, bottle or dispenser.

Modern bar soap and liquid soaps are much better at reducing this issue due to the addition of antibacterial properties of certain ingredients, such as tea tree oil or triclosan.


Cost is one of the benefits of soap bars.

There’s no doubt that bar soap gives you value for money.

Soap bars tend to last longer as unlike liquid soap they are not diluted with water.

Soap bars, especially natural soap bars made by artisan soapmakers tend to have much less packaging making them a budget-friendly option in the long run.

Environmentally Friendly

This is another win for bar soap.

In recent times liquid soaps have attracted a lot of negative press due to their unfriendliness to our lovely environment.

Firstly there’s the packaging, with most liquid soaps contained in plastic bottles – never a great thing.

Then there are the chemicals you’ll find in many commercial liquid soaps. These chemicals are added to enhance the scent, colour or longevity of the product. Of course, some commercial soaps also include chemicals.

Compare this to natural bar soap made by local craftspeople.

Artisan soap bars are usually made from natural ingredients with many now being completely plant-based and chemical free.

Packaging is usually minimal and always recyclable these days.

Skin Hydration

It was certainly the case for many years that liquid soap performed much better than bar soap when it came to hydrating skin.

Liquid soaps are often formulated with moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin or oils, which help to hydrate the skin and prevent dryness.

In the past bar soaps had a reputation for causing dryness to the skin but the new natural soap bars contain nourishing oils and butters such as coconut oil and shea butter which effectively hydrate the skin.

Over recent years I’ve tried a lot of soap bars and those that contain these types of nourishing ingredients have not dried my skin at all.

Facial Cleansing

bar soap vs liquid soap face cleansing
Bar Soap Compared to Liquid Soap – Facial Cleansing

The skin on our face is much more delicate than the rest of our body and so we do need to be especially careful when choosing a cleansing product for our face.

As with skin hydration, liquid soaps seem to win this factor hands down.

There are just so many products on the market that are specifically designed for protecting the skin on our faces.

As with hydration concerns, people still believe that using soap bars can be harsh on the face and may disrupt the skin’s natural pH balance, leading to dryness or irritation.

For a good price, you can now buy bar soap with moisturising properties which are specifically designed for the face and in my experience they are good.


One of the biggest differences between natural bar soap and liquid soap is the ingredients.

I say “natural” bar soap because some commercial bar soaps include similar ingredients to liquid soap. Similar chemicals in these types of bars and liquid soaps are added to enhance colour, fragrance or longevity.

In these commercial soaps, we have the opportunity to buy a wide range of products, including antibacterial, moisturizing, or exfoliating varieties

Whilst this might seem a good idea during use those chemicals are being washed into a water ecosystem which is something we should all try to avoid.

I believe natural ingredients are the way to go and you can really only get these in natural soap bars.


bar soap vs liquid soap allergies
Bar Soap Compared to Liquid Soap – Allergies

Those of us with sensitive skin or allergies need to be careful about what we put on our skin.

With so many different products on the market aimed at people with various skin conditions, it’s hard to ignore liquid soaps. There will be a liquid soap available to buy for every type of skin and every skin condition known.

But bar soaps are catching up.

It’s great to see small soap-making businesses making soap bars specifically for people with skin conditions such as eczema for example. With natural bar soaps, you’ll be sure you’re getting a natural remedy as well – something that’s very important to some.

Whether you decide to use bar or liquid soap you must take caution if you do have allergies of any sort.

Make sure you read the ingredients of the soap carefully and try the soap on your hands before moving to the rest of the body and the face.


For situations where sharing soap is necessary, such as in a restaurant or a hospital, liquid soap offers more convenience and hygiene.

With liquid soap, each person can dispense the desired amount without physically touching the soap, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.

Bar soap, on the other hand, requires multiple users to touch the same bar, which may not be ideal in situations where maintaining hygiene is crucial.

To summarize the comparison between bar soap and liquid soap, the following table provides an overview of the discussed factors:


So there you have it, you’ll have to make up your own mind as to whether you’d rather use bar soap or liquid soap.

In my view, the research I performed shows that there aren’t many factors or situations where a liquid soap is better.

Personally, I love natural bar soaps so if you are still using liquid soaps then why not give them a try, you might be surprised.

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