Can You Use Hand Soap as Body Wash?

Can You Use Hand Soap as Body Wash?

Ever wondered if you could use hand soap as body wash? Learn the difference between soaps and what’s the best option when body wash isn’t available.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a pinch and wondered if you could use hand soap as body wash, we’re here to help. What’s the difference between different soaps and what’s the best option when body wash isn’t available? We’ll answer all those questions and more below.

Can Hand Soap Be Used as Body Wash?

The short answer: yes. If you need to get clean, hand soap lifts soil and microbes from skin, effectively cleansing it. But should you regularly use hand soap as body wash? The answer to that question is more complex.

What’s the Difference Between Hand Soap and Body Soap?

Learn the differences between the two types of soap, from their formulas to their functions.

Intended Functions

Both hand soap and body soap clean and remove germs thanks to surfactants, but the levels to which they do these things are decidedly different.

  • Disinfecting

A good hand soap is formulated to physically destroy germs and remove germs and chemicals from your skin once it's lathered up. Many soaps meant for hands are antibacterial, which contain ingredients that prevent or reduce bacterial infection. These ingredients can be harsh and may not be meant to be used regularly on the rest of your body.

Meanwhile, body wash is usually formulated to remove dirt and oil from skin, while also keeping it moisturized – disinfecting is usually not a part of its formula. That means daily or regular use won't harm or dry out your skin.

  • Getting Rid of Dirt

When lathered up, hand soap forms pockets called micelles that target germs and bacteria. Body wash can also contain micelles, particularly micellar water cleanses and hydrates skin without needing to be rinsed off.  However body wash is formulated to remove dirt from skin and usually does this with gentler, more natural ingredients.

Different Forms

Hand soap can either come in: 

  • Liquid
  • Foam
  • Bar form 

Liquid soap is usually the best method for washing hands, as they also usually contain a moisturizing agent to prevent dry skin.  

Body wash usually comes in liquid form and often contain foaming agents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Coco Sulphate (SCS).

Both soap and body wash create lather when used, but they feature different molecular structures. Body wash is more viscous, with a pH between 6-7, while soaps usually have a pH between 9-10.


Soap is mainly composed of alkali salts of fatty acids  and it is the only ingredient that provides the product's cleaning action. Body washes are considered cosmetic, meaning they can also contain fragrances and moisturizing agents that keep skin smooth and refreshed.

Effects on the Skin

Hand soap is meant to be used on hands, so regularly using it on the body can irritate skin and even lead to dermatitis in some cases. Body washes are specifically formulated to be used daily and across the whole body, and using one with a pH-balanced, acidified body wash can protect your skin barrier and keep skin healthy and hydrated.

Which Is More Expensive?

Body wash is generally more expensive than hand soap, as it's meant to be used every day over a greater amount of skin. Liquid soap is usually cheaper, with bar soap usually being cheaper due to less cost related to its production.