Can You Use Hand Soap As Body Wash?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on cleanliness, and body hygiene has become more crucial in these uncertain times. But what happens if you run out of body wash? Can you use hand soap as a substitute?

You can use hand soap as body wash because both contain surfactants that clean and lift dirt and oils from the skin. However, a few critical differences between hand soap and body wash may make one a better option than the other, such as the inclusion of harsh antibacterial agents.

The rest of this article will discuss a few essential factors to consider before using hand soap as a body wash.

I’ll also offer alternative solutions for when you run out of body wash so you can make the best decision for your personal hygiene needs.

Can You Use Hand Soap As Body Wash?

As I mentioned, hand soap and body wash both serve the same purpose: to clean the body. However, one is specifically made for the hands and the other for the entire body. This means that different ingredients may be used in the formulas of each product.

Let’s break down the properties of hand soap and body wash to understand why one may not be a suitable substitute for the other.

Hand Soap and Body Wash Have Different Ingredients

One of the main differences between hand soap and body wash is the ingredients used in their formulas. Hand soap tends to have harsher cleansers and antibacterial agents, such as triclosan, parabens, and sulfates. These can dry out and irritate the sensitive skin on the body. 

On the other hand, body wash often contains gentler cleansers and moisturizing ingredients such as coconut and glycerine to prevent dryness and irritation. This means using hand soap as a body wash may leave your skin feeling dry and uncomfortable.

The Hand Soap and Body Wash Fragrances Differ in Strength

When I use hand soap, I often notice a strong scent that lingers on my hands for some time. This is because hand soap typically has added fragrance to mask the smell of harsh cleansing agents.

However, when it comes to body wash, the added fragrance is usually much more subtle and meant to enhance the shower experience rather than mask unpleasant scents. 

Using hand soap as a body wash may leave you feeling overwhelmed by the smell; also, components of fragrance formulas have the potential to cause allergic reactions in some people. 

The pH Levels of Hand Soap and Body Wash Are Not the Same

The pH level of a product refers to how acidic or alkaline it is. The skin on our body has a natural pH level of around 4.7 on average, which means it is slightly acidic. This slight acidity helps to maintain the skin’s barrier and protect it from harmful microbes. 

Hand soap often has a higher pH level because it needs to kill germs and bacteria on the hands effectively. On the other hand, body wash is formulated to have a pH level closer to the skin. Using hand soap as a body wash may disrupt the natural pH balance of your skin and lead to irritation.

Can You Wash Up With Hand Soap?

You can wash up with hand soap, but it’s not recommended due to the potential irritation and dryness that may occur. This potential irritation outweighs the convenience of using one soap for both body and hands.

However, using hand soap may work if you’re in a pinch and need to clean your body. Just be aware of its potential negative effects on your skin. 

If you choose to replace your hand soap with body wash, you should know how to use it properly on the body to minimize irritation and dryness. Now, let’s learn the basics of using hand soap as a body wash:

How To Use Hand Soap as Body Wash

To avoid potential irritation and dryness, it’s important to use hand soap properly when using it as a body wash. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about using hand soap as body wash:

How Do You Wash Your Body With a Bar of Soap?

Some hand soaps come in bar form, and these can also be used as a body wash. However, the steps to wash your body with a bar of soap are slightly different, and if you’re used to using body wash, it can be a little challenging to properly wash your body with it.

To wash your body with a bar of soap, first wet it. Then, rub the soap between your hands to create a lather before evenly applying it to your skin. You can use a washcloth for better application. Avoid sensitive areas (such as eyes), and rinse off thoroughly before stepping out of the shower.

How Long Should You Leave Soap on Your Body?

You should leave soap on your body for around 5-10 minutes. This includes washing and rinsing off the soap from your body. However, if your skin needs more time to soak in the moisture and benefits from the soap, you can leave it on for a few more minutes before rinsing off. 

While 5-10 minutes is the average amount of time to leave soap on your body, this can change depending on the soap. If you’re using hand soap as a body wash, it’s not recommended because hand soap may not have the same moisturizing and nourishing ingredients as a body wash. 

It could also potentially dry out your skin and cause irritation. It’s always best to stick to products specifically made for the intended area of use.

What To Use if You Run Out of Body Wash?

Are soaps the only replacement for body wash? Not necessarily! If you run out of body wash, other alternatives can be used for cleansing the body.

If you run out of body wash, you can use shampoo, face wash, or even milk to clean your body. While shampoo and face wash have similar cleansing properties as body wash, milk contains natural cleansing properties, so it can be used when you’re in a pinch.

Let’s go over these alternatives in more detail:

  • Shampoo: You might be surprised, but you can actually use shampoo as a body wash. Opt for a gentle formula that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. With the help of a loofah or washcloth, you can work the shampoo into a lather and use it to clean your body. 
  • Face wash: The gentle, pH-balanced formula of face wash makes it suitable for use on the body. Just be sure to avoid using it on sensitive areas like eyes, mouth, or genitals. 
  • Milk: Did you know that milk has natural cleansing properties? Mixing a small amount of milk with water can create a gentle cleanser for the body. Using milk as a cleanser is particularly helpful for those with skin conditions. 

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to dryness, it’s best to always ensure you have body wash on hand. But in a pinch, the above alternatives can do the job until you can restock your preferred body wash. 

Keeping your bathroom clean is also essential for maintaining good hygiene. You can use bleach to disinfect your shower or bathtub and keep it clean. However, before taking a bath, make sure you rinse off any bleach residue to avoid irritation. For more information, you can read my article about bathing after using bleach.


From a functionality standpoint, hand soap can be used as a body wash in a pinch, but it’s not the best option for your skin. If your skin is sensitive, stick with a body wash specifically formulated for the entire body. 

You can also try alternatives, but remember to always moisturize after using any alternative body wash to combat potential drying effects. Ultimately, listening to your skin and using products that work best for you is important.