strat investigates

Is It Safe to Use Dish Soap As an Alternative to Hand Soap?

Photo: Getty Images / GraphicaArtis

With pandemic-inspired panic buying keeping stocks of hand soap and hand sanitizer constantly low, you might find yourself looking curiously at your dish soap. If it cleans your dishes, can it clean your hands? After consulting medical professionals, we have good news: Yes, dish soap is an effective way to clean your hands. But it’s not the best alternative. “If you have nothing else available, dish soap is fine. But I wouldn’t continue to use it,” says Dr. Fred Davis, co-chair of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center Emergency Department. The reason is that the phosphates, dyes, and bleach in most dish soaps are particularly rough on your hands and may cause irritation, says Barbara Smith, an infection preventionist and nurse at Mount Sinai Morningside. That’s especially the case if you have sensitive skin.

If you’re out of hand soap, Davis actually recommends body wash over dish soap, because body wash tends to include the same cleansing ingredients as hand soap, and it’s actually designed for the skin. Shampoo also can remove germs, but since it’s formulated for the hair, it may “cause more sudsing or leave a film on the skin,” Smith says. She also recommends good old bar soap. Just “store it on a holder that is easy to clean and keeps the bar dry in between uses.” If you can’t find any of those things, then go for it with the dish soap. Just remember to use a good moisturizer. Below are some body washes we’ve written about before that will work as hand soap alternatives, plus a few dish soaps in case you’re really desperate. Regardless of the type of soap you use, please make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. For all us.

The Best Body Wash Alternatives to Hand Soap

The Best Dish Soap Alternatives to Hand Soap

Editor’s Note: While you can buy this soap on Amazon now, it’s not technically available until April 7 and will ship then. But it is currently available at Target for immediate purchasing.

Editor’s Note: This is going in and out of stock on Amazon and is currently unavailable. But it is currently available at Walmart for immediate purchasing.

$11 for 3

Editor’s Note: While you can buy this soap on Amazon now, it’s not technically available until April 1 and will ship then. But it is currently available at Target for immediate purchasing.

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Is It Safe to Use Dish Soap As an Alternative to Hand Soap?