Soapy water has been shown to effectively remove pathogens from hands and be an acceptable and affordable alternative to bar or liquid soap. It can be used in households where soap is limited and can be a particularly practical solution for promoting soap use at public handwashing facilities. This is because people will often feel uncomfortable sharing bar soap in public locations so liquid or soapy water is more acceptable. However if using soapy water in these settings someone may need to be appointed to refill the soap water regularly. 

Soapy water can be created by diluting powdered laundry soap or liquid soap. However, be careful not to dilute any soap too much as this will make it less effective. If you choose to dilute soap make sure that it is still soapy enough that it is able to create a good lather within seconds as this is important in order to effectively remove soap from hands (see ‘Why does handwashing with soap work so well to prevent COVID-19?’).

Here is a pictorial example of how to create soapy water from laundry detergent powder and how to create dispensers.

Source: icddr,b

Want to know more about COVID-19 and handwashing? 

Editor's note

Author: Sian White
Review: Katie Greenland, Ammar Fawzi
Last update: 13.04.2020

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