How to Use Bar Soap in the Shower the Right Way

By Marsha Harrison

how to use bar soap

Although we have all learned to shower since we were young, the coronavirus has gotten us all obsessing about cleansers and disinfectants.

Suddenly, we wonder if it is better to use a hand bar soap, body wash, or hand sanitizers. We ask experts if we should choose bar soap over liquid soap? More importantly, how to use bar soap correctly?

These questions run through our minds as we navigate through this pandemic. Let’s hear what experts have to say!

What You Need


Be sure that you have the following in your shower area:

  • Bar soap of your choice
  • Optional: Washcloth or loofah
  • Clean body towel
  • Wooden or silicone dish soap
  • Clean cloth

Choosing a Soap Bar

Buying a bar of soap can be as straightforward as getting a pack of 3 or 10 from the grocery shelf and paying for it at the checkout counter.

Things get a little bit more complicated once your skin starts to react after you use bar soap in the shower.

Besides compatibility, most of us want to achieve something when we wash with bar soap. Some of us want to moisturize, others want the refreshing fragrance lingering on the skin.

As you look for the perfect product for your skin type, take the time to observe how your skin reacts, and don’t be afraid to try new products.

Speaking from my experience, it can take a lot of trial and error until one can figure out the best soap to use on face or to wash body.

If you cannot find a bar soap that works for you, Very Well Health encourages consulting dermatologists to get recommendations.

Ways to Use Bar Soap Correctly


Step 1. Wet your body with lukewarm water

Make sure that your body is thoroughly soaked in lukewarm water instead of hot water.

Note: While a hot shower is indeed more relaxing, it can damage your skin.

Several studies show that both hot showers and baths can dry your skin. This will then increase the chance of overproducing oil and lead to acne.

Meanwhile, a lukewarm shower will aid in contracting blood vessels and briefly tightening the pores, says dermatologist Jessica Cheung in this article on Bustle. It also reduces redness and puffiness.

Another point that the dermatologist made is that cooler temperatures improve circulation.

Step 2. Create a lather with your hands

Get your soap, hold it with your hands, and rub it to create a good lather. The Earthling Co. suggests doing this for about 15 minutes.

Note: You will notice that some bar soaps make thick and creamy lathers, while others don’t. That’s because natural bar soap does not contain foam boosters.

On the other hand, soaps made of coconut oil and castor oil are more bubbly. Either way, the soap will clean just fine!

However, it is also worth mentioning that hard water can make it difficult for the soap to lather properly. If this bothers you, you can get a water softener installed.

Step 3. Start from the top

Instead of applying soap to random areas of your body, begin by washing your neck and moving towards your feet.

According to experts, this is the best way to use bar soap. Scrubbing from top to bottom ensures that you don’t miss a spot. After all, you must not leave soap residues after rinsing.

Tip: At this point, you can get your loofah or washcloth to help you spread the lather bar soap and scrub your body. Alternatively, you can use your bare hands.

Step 4. Rinse and thoroughly

To wrap up, rinse your entire body again with lukewarm water and make sure that there are no residues left.

Dry yourself with a towel. Then, proceed to the next steps of your skincare routine, whether it’s applying your lotion or shaving.

Beauty influencers suggest a wide variety of post-shower skincare routines but you can keep things simple.

In this Well and Good article, dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling, MD suggests applying facial oil to keep your skin well hydrated.

If you have certain skin problems, you may need to consult your dermatologist to learn about specific topical or oral medication to take.

How to Properly Store Your Bar Soap


1. Select appropriate containers

After you use a bar of soap, make sure to place it on a wooden or silicone dish with slots or holes that can drain water. This will help you keep bar soap sanitary.

If you have a bunch of soap scraps, you can still use them by storing them in a mesh pouch. Another option is to use an old but clean sock.

When you have collected enough, you can melt the soap scraps and turn them into liquid soap!

As for your stash of unused soap bars, you can opt for covered containers.

Per WikiHow’s recommendation, you don’t need to buy a brand new container. Any box that can keep bar soap clean and dry will do.

Note that organic bars will need some air circulation to keep them from going rancid. As for non-organic formulas, you can keep bar soap clean by simply storing it in a dry container.

2. Rinse the bar soap’s surface with water and dry it

Make it a habit to rinse off the surface of the bar soap since germs are likely living there.

Now, the goal is to keep the soap dry because germs love wet environments. Be sure to dry the soap after every use or after rinsing it with water.

To do this, you can either wipe it with a clean cloth or allow it to air dry. Doing this wnill help keep the bar soap clean and ready to use.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Is showering or bathing better with loofah or washcloth?

Some people love the feeling of scrubbing their skin with a washcloth or loofah. Furthermore, they help the soap lather more. That said, these items are only optional.

In this article on Oprah Daily, dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD explains that if you have to choose between the two shower accessories, it is better to go for the washcloth.

By nature, a loofah has lots of nooks and crannies where germs and bacteria can build up. Regardless of whether you choose a loofah or washcloth, you will have to wash them regularly.

At the end of the day, your hands are still the best “shower accessory”! Our hands can be cleaned easily!

If you want to exfoliate, use gritty soaps or cleansers instead.

2. Soap or hand sanitizer: Which one is better?

Hand sanitizers have been marketed as a replacement for the traditional method of handwashing using soap and water. But this is not entirely true.

As this article on UCI Health points out, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends frequent handwashing with plain soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

That said, if the soap dispenser in a public toilet is empty, you can use your hand sanitizer.

To ensure that your hands are cleaned effectively, make sure to use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

3. Bar soap or liquid soap: Which one is better?

The choice between bar or liquid will depend on what you prefer.

Many environmentalists would go for bar soap as it is more eco-friendly in that you don’t need to package them in plastic bottles. Plus, making it uses less water!

You will also notice that between liquid and bar soap, the latter provides more variants.

After all, soapmaking is becoming a thing. Search any blog or Reddit and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of innovative soap formulas that are better for your skin.

Of course, there will be instances where using liquid soap makes more sense. For example, having a liquid soap dispenser in common washrooms lessens the spread of germs between people.

4. Is bar soap safer for the skin if it is made with natural ingredients?

Let me preface this by saying that not all the bar or bottled soap we see in the groceries or pharmacies are technically soap.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a regulatory definition for what soap is. Unfortunately, most products do not meet this definition as they contain synthetic ingredients.

Hence, we see “cleansing bars” or “body wash” on the label even though we loosely refer to them as soaps. But regardless of the form and ingredients, these products are just as effective in cleaning.

A more important point that the FDA raised is that one should not assume that all plant-based ingredients are safe for the skin. After all, we know poison ivy isn’t exactly good for us! So, always patch test the soap on your skin first to see how it will react.


Your parents, nanny, and school teacher have most likely taught you how to use bar soap when you were a child. Still, reading additional information about skincare and different products can help us protect ourselves against germs and viruses better.

While I have shared some best practices in this article, choosing between using a bar or liquid soap is entirely up to you. What matters is that the product you are using does not harm your skin.

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