Can You Wash Dishes With Hand Soap? 4 Very Important Questions Answered

I was searching for the queries that people may have about dish-washing and I stumbled across 3 very similar ones on google, which are:

In this article, I will try to explain the first query; about hand soaps. If you want to look at the other queries, then click on the links above.

People always look for a sensible solution to every problem. If you run out of dish soap, can you really use a hand soap for washing the dishes? Hand soaps can give you clean and bacteria and germs free dishes, but they can also have some harmful effects which I have explained in this article later on.

Can you wash dishes with hand soap?

You can wash your dishes with antibacterial hand soap that has no preservatives, colors, and fragrances added to it. It will not only give you clean dishes but will also kill the bacteria and germs on your dishes. However, you should always give an extra rinse to your dishes when using a hand soap to make sure that the soap is clear as well.

Is dish soap the same as hand soap?

Hand soap and dish soap have their own distinctive properties that separate both of them from each other. They both can be used for washing hands as well as washing dishes, but experts suggest that they should be used for their own purposes respectively. That is because, while manufacturing a product, its properties are maintained according to the purpose it will serve for.

Dish soaps

Dish soaps are produced by keeping in mind the needs of a dishwasher while washing dishes. So that it can clean the grease and stubborn spots from the dishes as well as the bacteria and germs that are present in almost every household item.

There is a wide range of dish soaps available in the market which you can choose from according to your preferences. If you want good results, then it is best to wash the dishes with the right dish soap.

Dish soap can also be used to wash hands, but its harsh chemicals (that are added to remove grease and tough stains from the dishes) can make your skin dry and can also damage it. It is not that it will not kill the bacteria and germs from the hands, but will also be harsh to your skin and may damage it.

Hand soaps

Can you wash dishes with hand soap?Hand soaps are used to wash hands, and they kill the bacteria and germs from our hands as well as moisturize our skin with appealing fragrances. Hand soaps have different ingredients than the dish soaps. This can be good for your skin, but not for your food or utensils.

There is also a variety of hand soaps in the market to choose from that vary according to their properties. Some are for dry skin, some are for oily skin, while others can be for average skin. Some have whitening effects while some heal the skin. Some are natural hand soaps. Some are antibacterial without any other extra ingredients (like preservatives, colors, and fragrances). The last ones are the best to wash dishes.

Is it effective to wash dishes with hand soap?

Hand soaps can be used to wash dishes, but they can leave a thin slimy layer in the end, and it is not easy to rinse out from the dishes. Hand soaps can kill the bacteria and germs from the dirty dishes, but they cannot remove those stubborn stains and greases from the dishes as effectively as a dish soap can do.

The glycerin that is added to a hand soap to keep the skin moisturized will leave a slimy effect on the dishes that is not easily washed out.

Keeping in mind the above points, if you have just eaten from a dish, and rinsed it quickly after, then a simple antibacterial soap may do the work for you. But I would still prefer a dish soap if I have one.

Is it ok to wash dishes with hand soap?

We have discussed that a hand soap may be effective to wash dishes, but this led us to the question, “is it safe to use hand soap to wash dishes?” Hand soaps have a lot of different ingredients that when mixed with your food can cause you harm. Especially if you use conventional hand soaps, they contain different toxins. When washing your dishes, these toxins will remain on the dishes and can make you and your family sick.

But if you use an antibacterial hand soap without any preservatives and any other such ingredients, it will not cause any health issues but will give you clean and bacteria and germ-free dishes. But in order to remove the soapy layer, you should rinse the dishes twice.

Let us see what kinds of components there are in a hand soap which can cause us harm and which we should avoid.


Many hand soaps contain sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate, commonly referred to as u2018SLS’ and u2018SLES’ respectively. These sulfates make good foams and are used in almost every care cosmetic like soaps, shampoos, body wash, toothpaste, and laundry detergents. SLS is derived from coconuts but it is contaminated while manufacturing by a toxic byproduct that makes it harmful.

SLS can lead to several health issues that can cause skin and eye irritation, endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular changes, reproductive toxicity, organ toxicity, and cancer. Using a hand soap to wash dishes can cause these diseases if mixed with food.


Urea is added to hand soaps to give you moisturizing and smooth skin. Urea creams are in use from the 1940s to heal the skin and to treat dryness. Due to its beneficial water binding and mild exfoliating properties for skin, urea is included in many hand soaps as a common ingredient.

But using hand soaps with urea in it to wash your dishes is concerning as it can cause heart irregularities, joint pain, and can even weaken your immune system. In order to look for these ingredients, you can find them on labels with the names like imidazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, etc.


Parabens are present in almost all of the cosmetic products. These are added to preserve the beauty products as you use them and inhibit the growth of bacteria in them.

These can disrupt hormone functions by mimicking estrogen. High levels of estrogen trigger the increases in breast cell division along with the growth of tumors. This is why the use of parabens is linked with breast cancer and reproductive tissues.

Studies have shown that 19 out of 20 women with breast cancer had parabens in their breast tissue. This study does not explain if parabens can cause cancer, but shows that they can penetrate into the skin tissues and remain there for long periods.

These parabens are butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben. These are the most common parabens present in hand soaps. If you want to look out for parabens, these are most commonly labeled in the ingredients list.

Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone

Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone are also used as preservatives in most of the personal care products including hand soaps that inhibit the growth of the bacteria in them. But they can be harmful to health as they can cause lung and respiratory issues and neurotoxicity.

These preservatives are mostly used in natural products to replace other preservatives like parabens. So, while looking for toxic and chemical-free hand soaps always look for these two names.


Colors are added to the soap to give them a different look in order to catch the attention of the customers. This is an ingredient that includes the mixing of different harmful components.

If your soap includes colors, then these harmful components may not cause you any skin problems, but will surely make you sick if get mixed with your food. So, it is better to avoid washing dishes with the hand soap that has colors in it.


Almost all the hand soaps have fragrances. You can always find the work fragrance listed on the product labels but it is impossible to know which ingredients are used for fragrance as fragrance industry is not required to disclose the ingredients that they made their fragrance with. This could mean that these fragrances may have thousands of ingredients.

These ingredients can be harmful to even our skin if used in excess. Fragrances usually have the ingredients known as phthalates; these are used to make the fragrances last longer. Phthalates can cause many health risks like endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, reduce sperm count, liver cancer, and breast cancer, etc. We think it is better to avoid fragranced soaps, especially for dishwashing.


1,4-dioxane is never listed among the ingredients of a hand soap but it is present in almost all of the hand soaps. It is a by-product and can cause cancer. In order to avoid this substance, you should look for the synthetic ethoxylated ingredients. Look for the substance that includes laureth, myreth, oleth, and ceteareth.

Final Verdict

Hand soaps can clean the grease and stains from the dishes so yes, they may be effective, but not as effective as the dish soaps that are specially produced for this. Moreover, using hand soaps that contain fragrances, colors, or other ingredients that are mentioned above, it is too much of a risk in my opinion, so I would avoid that as much as possible.

From the above article the question can you wash dishes with hand soap must be clear by now that except for the antibacterial hand soaps without any synthetic component like fragrances, colors, or any preservative, you should avoid using hand soaps to wash your dishes. Otherwise, it can lead to many health issues from small to very serious diseases that are explained above.

Pile your dish soaps up and happy dish washing! 🙂