General Question

dxs's avatar

Is it okay to use hand soap to wash dishes?

Asked by dxs (11721 points ) August 7th, 2014

I just came back to this area, and someone kept some of my stuff at their place while I was gone. Well, my dish soap was one of the things I stored there and it magically disappeared. (along with a towel, some body wash, a water bottle, a guitar capo, and about 700 Q-tips. Magic!) The hand soap didn’t vanish, so right now I’m using it to do dishes. What’s the difference between hand soap and dish soap, and is it okay to be cleaning with just hand soap if I’m dealing with things like raw meat?

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32 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

It’s the very (very) hot water that matters; soap is soap.

The differences between bar and liquid soaps.

http://www.detergentsandsoaps.com/articles/bar-liquid-soap.html

JLeslie's avatar

Soap is what kills the germs, soap and the action of washing/scrubbing the dishes just like when you wash your hands. The water would have to be very hot to contribute to killing germs, and no one uses water that hot when washing dishes or their hands. Bar soap can hold some germs on it if it stays wet, which also brings me to another point that washing dishes and being sure they are completely dry aids in them being “clean” or free from bacteria. Germs like to live on wet surfaces.

When they do studies of germs left on hands after washing with regular soap or antibacterial soap, the numbers are extremely close, the regular soap kills germs just as well if the person uses the good practice of washing their hand thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds. Just rinsing hands with no soap kills almost nothing.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie Soap does not kill germs. The action of using soap and water loosens germs’ grip on things, and allows you to mechanically remove them.

@dxs Soap is soap. It doesn’t matter what kind you use – except that some are harder to rinse off of things, so are not as well suited to slippery surfaces like dishes.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@JLeslie Soap does not kill germs. Hard soap is an excellent medium to culture bacteria on.

kritiper's avatar

Sure. The main point of soap is to break the surface tension of the water to make it wetter and more readily mixable with other substances.

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves @dxs I meant the action of the soap and water, like I said you need to wash/scrub for more than a few seconds to eliminate bacteria and then let it all dry well. Plain water does almost nothing if you wring your hands together or soak a plate in it, unless it is hot enough to basically sterilize it. No one washes with water that hot in a sink. I mentioned bacteria can live on soap. I guess Injust did not word it all well.

dxs's avatar

Thanks for the answers! I’ll make sure the water is hot when I’m washing them. I’m using my clean hands to wash them (my scrubber disappeared, too). I apply pressure on the dishes with the tips of my four non-thumb fingers.

gailcalled's avatar

People used to (and campers still do) wash dishes in streams using sand as the abraisive. Eveyone survived nicely. (People’s dogs often licked the plates clean first).

dxs's avatar

^^Interesting. I’ve been using this method and I’ll admit I’ve also been forgetting to use hot water, too. Haven’t died. But anyways it’d be foolish of me to not take advantage of what I can.

dxs's avatar

*anyway…I remembered I’m in the presence of Gailcalled haha.

cazzie's avatar

The soap maker has to weigh in here. Soap is not always soap. A bar soap is different from liquid. The soap used to wash dishes is a surfactant detergent, as is most liquid hand soap. soap is an ionic cleaner. It has a water loving end and a dirt loving end. It, indeed, does not kill germs unless some additive with that property is put in the mix. What soap does is break the surface tension of water and grab dirt and helps the water wash it away. Dish washing liquid is usually a very happy grease eater as well, but hand soap will be lacking this, especially if it is in bar form.
I’d like to hear more about growing bacteria on bar soap.

gailcalled's avatar

@dxs: Oh, college-bound student, I am not the one who counts, remember?

JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie I’m curious about growing bacteria on bar soap too. Bacteria can be found on bar soap, but actuall growing a culture? I never heard of that.

RocketGuy's avatar

Hand soap might have moisturizer, which would leave a film on your dishes.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie There is not really a difference between “finding bacteria on” something and “growing bacteria on a culture”. Unless it is literally frozen, if it is living, its population is growing.

cazzie's avatar

@JLeslie It’s basic bullshit the liquid soap people want the public to believe. One claim against bar soaps is the bacteria factor. Because people sometimes share the same bar of soap, fears concerning the transfer of bacteria have emerged. However, studies have shown that although bacteria levels on previously-used bar soaps are slightly higher than on unused soaps, there have been no detectable levels of bacteria left on the skin’s surface after using the soap [source: Heinze http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3402545]. Bar soap users who are still worried about spreading germs can always make sure that each person has his or her own soap.

The other bullshit is the pH rubbish. It does NOT need to be neutral to your skin, but there are parameters, of course. Some of the chemicals they use to neutralise the pH can cause more problems than washing with something more base. Also, most water supplies are 7 to 8! So, by that standard, you shouldn’t use water on your skin, either. Silliness. To sell expensive, useless products.

dxs's avatar

@cazzie I heard that most soaps are fine once you wash it because it sheds the outside. I used to use the bar soaps that people left in hotels because I hated seeing them go to waste.

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JLeslie's avatar

@cazzie The way I had always learned it was you can find some increased bacterias on bar soap, but it is not significant enough to worry about infection. My grandma always used bar soap in her kitchen. I don’t know if they even still make bar soap especially marketed for kitchens, but she was still using that soap up until 15 years ago for sure. Once she had an aide daily with her maybe they switched over I don’t know.

I don’t use bar soap in the shower, because almost all of them irritate me, especially my girly parts.

Also, thanks for the pH information, it actually got me thinking about something else I have been curious about.

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flo's avatar

No problem as long as you rise really well. Don’t use it on hair though.

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seekingwolf's avatar

I have used hand soap to hand wash dishes before when I ran out of the dish soap. Yes, they got clean but they took me a lot longer to get clean, let me tell you. The hand soaps aren’t built for cutting through grease and crime and crap. They just don’t work as well on dishes.

boy this question makes me so glad I have my own dishwasher now

ibstubro's avatar

Soap was once made at home from a mix of animal fat and lye. It was in cake form, and all purpose. A Soap saver was used to gather the slivers left from hand and laundry washing, so you could use them to do the dishes.

Today softeners are added to hand and laundry soaps. If I used them for dishes I might rinse them in water with a little vinegar added to cut the crap.

cazzie's avatar

If you run out of dish washing liquid, the closest thing you have in your house is probably garage floor cleaner, or go get the soap you wash your car with. If you use a really basic type of shampoo without all the added crap, that would be close-ish.

dxs's avatar

Interesting, stu. Thanks for the answers everyone!

ibstubro's avatar

I have made soap, but mine was a disgusting mess. Hand crafted cake/bar soaps are all the rage here at the moment, commanding several dollars a pound.

cazzie's avatar

I can help if anyone wants to learn to make bar soap that won’t hurt the ‘girly bits’.

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