At the moment there is lots of concern around surfaces being contaminated by the virus so it is reasonable to be concerned about whether bar soap could also be a source of potential infection. It is true that bacteria and viruses can transfer onto bar soap during handwashing. Some studies have found that most bars of soap have an average of 2-5 microorganisms on them at any one time. Interestingly  when these contaminated bar soaps are used, studies have shown that hands have no traces of these pathogens afterwards and that hands are equally as clean as compared to using a brand new bar soap. Studies like this indicate that there is no infection risk posed by sharing bar soap at this time. The reason for this is likely to be because of the way that soap works at a microscopic level (see: ‘Why does handwashing with soap work so well to prevent COVID-19?’).

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Editor's note

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

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