Using soap is essential for keeping our hands clean and hygienic, and for preventing the spread of germs – particularly in public washrooms. In order for proper hand hygiene procedures to be followed, soap must be readily available for your washroom visitors to use, along with other basic washroom supplies such as toilet tissue and hand towels to dry hands after washing.

Title picture for a blog post comparing solid hand soap with liquid hand soap

In a survey carried out into European handwashing habits, only 75% of people in the UK said that they automatically washed their hands with soap and water after using the toilet – but whilst those figures are shocking, it’s only possible to wash the hands properly when soap or liquid hand wash is available to use.

Whether in the form of a tablet soap bar, or liquid hand wash from a pump bottle or refillable dispenser, soap should be present in every public or workplace washroom so that users are able to effectively clean their hands after using the toilet, or any situation where harmful bacteria may have been present. Each year on 5th May, the World Health Organisation (WHO) holds its hand hygiene campaign day ‘SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands’, to raise awareness of proper hand cleaning procedures in the healthcare environment – but no matter which type of setting you work in, washing your hands properly is the important first step in infection control.


How does soap clean your hands?


The reasons why we should use soap and water, as opposed to just water, to clean our hands is all down to good old science. Whether in a bar or liquid form, soap is a detergent or ‘surfactant’, which lifts oil, dirt and bacteria from your skin and allows it to be mixed with water, then washed away. On ‘the other hand’, antibacterial soaps and liquid hand washes are formulated with chemicals that kill bacteria altogether, such as triclosan, triclocarban, and chloroxylenol.

However, whichever types of soap you choose, they are only fully effective when proper handwashing procedures are followed. When washing your hands, the friction caused by rubbing your hands together works to lift and remove the oil, dirt and bacteria from the skin.

Watch the below video by Deb for a thorough guide to washing your hands properly, and for the correct amount of time – 20 to 30 seconds, to be precise – to ensure your hands are clean and hygienic.

How to wash your hands properly


  1. Wet your hands thoroughly
  2. Apply soap
  3. Rub the soap into a lather between the palms
  4. Rub between the fingers
  5. Rub the palms together
  6. Work the lather around the fingernails
  7. Rub the lather around the thumbs
  8. Use the tips of your fingers to scrub the palms
  9. Rub the lather around your wrists (the entire handwashing process should take 20-30 seconds)
  10. Rinse off the hands thoroughly with clean running water
  11. Dry the hands with a clean paper towel or hand dryer

Should you use bar soap or liquid hand soap in your washroom?

We’ve established the ways in which the different types of soaps and hand washes work to clean your hands and leave them fresh and hygienic. But when it comes to choosing hand soaps in a bars or liquid form, which one is most suitable for your washroom?

In our infographic below, we pitch bar soaps and liquid hand soaps against one another to help you decide which one gets you ‘in a lather’.

Infographic showing the advantages and disadvantages of liquid hand soap and solid bar soap

Whether you prefer to use traditional and affordable bar soap, or contemporary and convenient liquid hand soap in your washroom, you’ll find an outstanding Washroom Skin Care range at Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies.

Browse our selections of tablet soap and bulk fill hand washes and sealed liquid soap cartridge systems, from fantastic brands including Pasture Naturals, Premiere Products, Deb and Metsa Katrin. We also offer dispensers to suit each type of liquid soap, so whether you’re looking for refills or adding a new type of soap or hand wash to your washroom, you’ll find everything you need to ‘clean up’.

If you’re interested to find out more about handwashing and hand hygiene, why not read our post ‘Are You Washing Your Hands with Contaminated Soap?’, as well as our tips on How to Protect Yourself from Germs in Public Washrooms for further ways to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses.

So after reading our post and infographic, we’d love to find out – do you use solid bar soap or liquid hand soap in your washroom? Vote in our poll below to let us know.