How is solid dish soap different from body soap? - Soap Cult Australia

How is solid dish soap different from body soap?

You might be surprised to know that solid dish soap and regular body soap are quite similar. They share many of the same ingredients but they cannot be used interchangeably.

Let me explain why.

A little soap science

Solid soap, like the kind you buy from Soap Cult Australia*, is a traditional cold process soap. We take melted plant oils and butters and combine them with precise amounts of water and lye which emulsify together, forming a thickening soap liquid that eventually hardens into a bar of soap.

The ingredients used in a bar of soap, such as the oils and butters that were chosen, along with the amount of water used, will drastically affect how a soap performs and what you can use it on.

If you use too little oils and butters, the soap can be overly cleansing. If you use too much, the soap will be soft and squishy and leave a gross film on the skin, never really getting a proper lather or wash. Not to mention, you must choose the right ones based on their fatty acid profiles. It can get complicated. 

Getting the formula right

Luckily, experienced soap makers understand exactly what ingredients to use and in what proportions to create a soap that's perfect for its intended use.

A skilled soap maker can Goldilocks the formula. ie. make it juuuuuuust right.

When creating a soap formula, a soap maker will use drastically different ingredients and ratios for a bar of body soap, compared to a facial soap, compared to a bar of dish soap. It comes down to what you're intending to clean.

On the face and body, you need to have a moisturising buffer of extra oils and butters so the skin is cleansed but not to the point of stripping it of its natural oils.

But that'd be pointless for your dishes. They need less oil, not more. So the soap formula naturally has virtually no moisture buffer. 

Here's why you shouldn't wash your hands with dish soap

Solid dish soap is meant to be very cleansing. Its job is to break down grease and dried-on food so it needs to be much more cleansing than what our hands or bodies need to get clean.

Even if you get super dirty one day, chances are, you'll never be as oily and gross as a three-day-old frying pan. 

Facial soap and body soap are formulated to take care of that skin.

Dish soap is formulated to take care of dirty dishes.


Washing your hands with dish soap won't make them fall off or anything but they will feel tight and be noticeably dry after a while. It's not pleasant. The dish soap was created to think you're a frying pan.

But-cha not.

Caring for your hands when you're washing a sink of dishes

Now that we understand how different soap ingredients produce different kinds of soap, let's talk about protecting your hands when you're using a bar of solid dish soap.

  • Use washing-up gloves
  • Scrub with a long brush or scourer in very hot water
  • That's it

Dish soap is designed to strip oils. So what's it going to do to your skin? It'll strip it. Just like a regular liquid detergent would. They're never really moisturising anyway, right? Even if they say so on the bottle. 

So pop on some gloves, get the water super hot and clean clean clean! 

Your hands and nails (and the planet!) will thank you. 

Remember to moisturise your hands afterwards too! All of the extra washing we're doing these days (even with a moisturising body soap like ours ) means they could do with a little extra care. 


*We also sell glycerin soap, which is different again. See our Ingredient Almanac for more information.


every question answered about solid dish soap