Soap-Dodging: A New Trend in Natural Cleanliness?

Jan 21, 2011· 1 MIN READ
With soap dodgers making a case for all naturale, will soap go suds up? (Rusty the Scot/Creative Commons)

By Josephine Ho

A woman who uses sliced lemons in lieu of deodorant. A man who shampoos only once a month. A teenager who washes her face with plain tap water. These are just a few examples of the rising number of people who have turned to soap-dodging and never looked back.

Surprisingly, the demographics of this soapless bunch are not restricted to incense-burning, tree-loving hippies.

Reputable people such as commentator Matthew Parris has admitted to not shampooing for over a decade. Broadcaster Andrew Marr followed suit and reported that he is happy with the results. Internet icon Sean Bonner has been featured in GOOD, Wired, Playboy, Forbes, and is co-founder and CEO of Bode Media Inc.; he hasn’t showered with soap or shampoo for the past year.

Why have these people decided to ditch the suds?

Besides decreasing water contamination that soap use creates, going soap-free has been backed as a healthy move for humans by scientific studies such as this one from the University of North Carolina (pdf), which states, “Effective hand hygiene for high levels of viral contamination with a nonenveloped virus was best achieved by physical removal with a nonantimicrobial soap or tap water alone.”

The study concludes: “Of all the hand hygiene agents, the most efficacious at reducing MS2 (bacteria) was the handwashing with tap water alone, followed by the nonantimicrobial soap handwash, and the 0.2% benzethonium chloride handwash.”

Bonner, who was initially put off by the idea of living soap free, is now fully on board. “Personally I’m just blown away by this and like I said I can’t believe it’s something I didn’t question earlier,” he shares on his blog.

But Bonner has company in leaving his sudsy days behind well into his adult years. In fact, 50-year-old Richard Nikoley introduced many to the trend through his blog, Free The Animal, which averages more than 30,000 page views per month.

One year later, Bonner blogs again about his decision to drop the soap—and not pick it up: “I will definitely be sticking with this. I'm still annoyed it took me 35 years to learn what I clearly already knew as a baby kicking and screaming when my parents tried to wash my hair.”

Will the soap-dodging trend send clean freaks back to a time when bathing once a month was the norm? Or is this just another short-lived fad in the face of society’s fetish for extreme cleanliness?

Keep sniffing to find out!

Photo: Rusty the Scot/Creative Commons via Flickr

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