Do You Really Need Both Hand Soap and Dish Soap?

If your kitchen sink is anything like mine, it tends to get a little cluttered. There's the dishrag for washing dishes, the sponge for the counter, the special brush for glasses, the stiff brush for your cast iron skillet, the liquid hand soap dispenser, and a bottle of dish soap. But is there a real difference in hand soap vs dish soap?

Is there a kitchen MVP in hand soap vs kitchen soap? They're both intended to clean and they're both safe for your skin. You might think you can use just one of them. However, professionals say it's better to use both of them. You can swap out one for the other in a pinch, but there are a few things to consider before forgoing the multiple options altogether and just keeping one of them at your kitchen sink.

Hand Soap vs Dish Soap

Washing hands
Getty Images/AlexRaths

Yes, both hand soap and dish soap are both intended to clean, but liquid dish soap is essentially detergent. It will get the job done and kill most bacteria in the process, but dish soap can be harsh on your skin because of the additives meant to provide grease cleaning power. Some dish soaps, like Dawn Ultra, are designed to be gentler, so if you have sensitive skin, you might stick with a gentler dish soap even if you don't plan to use it all the time.

As for hand soap, it's not designed for the tough job of your lasagna pan, plus some hand soaps have additives that are safe for your skin, but not food safe.

If you run out of dish soap and have to hand wash dishes, it's best to use antibacterial soap, either liquid or bar soap, without scents or other additives. Antibacterial hand soap will kill any germs on your dishes, but it's best to give the dishes an extra rinse to make sure your clean dishes are clear of soap as well.

You can use liquid hand soap as dishwasher detergent, but you might give the dishes another rinse when you pull them out of the dishwasher.

Crockery is washed off in the sink with dishwashing detergent
Getty Images/Ralf Geithe

There's one thing you should never, ever do. Don't use laundry detergent or bleach in place of dishwashing liquid, either in the dishwasher or the sink. Laundry detergent has cleaning agents, perfumes, and other additives that aren't good for you. It's the same reason you shouldn't eat Tide Pods. It's cleaning products, people!

If you're worried about additives in your kitchen soap, one way to get around the hand soap vs dish soap issue is to make your own dishwashing soap. Use Castille soap, an olive oil-based soap that comes either as liquid soap or bar soap; diluted, it's safe for any number of uses, including dishes, hand washing, laundry, and even in the shower.

And don't forget to always protect your hands if you get to rinsing or need to remove buildup or grime from your sinks. Wear rubber gloves when you can, as well as use lotions or moisturizers with natural oils.

As tempting as it might be to just use hand soap on your dishes or dish soap on your hands, it's best to just use each soap for what it was originally intended for. This way, you'll have perfectly clean dishes and clean (but not dried out) hands.

This post was originally published on May 21, 2021.

READ MORE: 5 Reasons Why Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap Is the Best Cleaner for Your Kitchen

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