The No-Soap Challenge—Join Us! (There’s a Prize.)

Inspired by Sean Bonner, our friends at GOOD who are braving the stink, as well as our own growing disdain for soap, we have a challenge for you, dear readers. And this one could have serious payoff! Here goes:

—For the next two weeks, or for at least 5 days between now and January 26th, we want you to give up soap entirely. You can still shower, rinse, rinse, do your thing. But hands off the bar of soap and body wash.

—Then, instead of sending us a picture as we’ve done in the past, send us your story. 100 words or less, please. We want the gory details: pit tests, boy/girlfriend reactions, coworker complaints, praise etc…

—Our favorite testimonials will be published here, and one of you will win a $100 gift certificate from the amazing natural beauty store NuboNau. They carry some of our favorite products, including natural and sweet-smelling body washes, should the experiment leave you jonesing for one. Or you can just buy some great makeup if you decide to swear off soap.

The rules: No soap, no body wash, nada. This one isn’t about hair though, so you can totally shampoo—just don’t be cheating with those suds. (And yes, for the sake of basic human decency, we encourage you to continue to wash your hands and private parts, obviously.)

Instructions: Send your no-soap experience  to nomoredirtylooks (at) gmail (dot) com, with NO SOAP in the subject line, and keep it to 100 words or less. Please include your first name and city of origin. We need all stories by end of day, Wednesday, January 26th. We will post the best testimonials on our site, as well as on our Facebook page. The person with the most compelling one, be it good or bad, will get a $100 gift certificate to shop at the killer natural beauty store NuboNau.

Pretty please: Help us spread the word! Tweet it, Facebook it, scream from the rooftops, and tell your friends to get on board with you. Besides, it’s better not to stink alone.

The reason for the challenge: Just to test conventional wisdom. More and more people are choosing to go without soap and other conventional cleaning methods. We still use a little, but less than we once did and our skin is happier for it. Give it a whirl.

So are you game? Will you be joining the no-soap challenge?

53 Responses to “The No-Soap Challenge—Join Us! (There’s a Prize.)”
  1. felicia says:

    I’m down for this!

  2. Van says:

    I’m in! I started this two days ago when I first read Sean Bonner’s story AND I was going to blog about it anyway. I love this added incentive to keep going.

    After 2 days I have detected 0 stink and haven’t heard a single complaint.

    P.S: Does this mean no face soap or moisturizers of any kind, too?

  3. Alexandra says:

    Awesome. Nope, you can do what you want with your face. We don’t want to cause any breakouts or anything.

  4. Megan says:

    I am seriously tempted, good timing with it being in the winter. My skin is so freakin’ itchy all the time. You guys have already talked me into Tom’s toothpaste and minimal toxin free deodorant usage – among other things. But this preggo mama’s hormones might fool me one way or the other…might as well give it a whirl!

  5. J Dubbs says:

    i’m down too. this is rather exciting (and terrifying?!)

  6. Angie says:

    I’m very tempted to do this!
    I don’t really have a good enough reason NOT to!

    So…okay yeah! I’m in!

  7. Z says:

    Does this exclude oil as a cleaning agent as well? Nothing but water?

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I’ll pass on this one, but I have to say that I stopped using deodorant about a month ago & have been completely shocked to discover that I don’t really need it–my husband will vouch for me! My six-year-old would probably love to do this challenge, though–she loves taking baths but hates soap/body wash.

  9. Beka says:

    I’m in too! I haven’t used shampoo or soap since I read your article about Sean Bonner, so it has been about 4 days since I have used anything (I usually shower every other day). My husband told me today that my hair looks the best it ever has, that it doesn’t look all dry and it has a nice shine to it! Then I made him smell it, just because I was worried that it would be smelling, but he promised that it had no bad smell to it. My scalp and back are itchy, though. Hopefully that will get better soon. I’ve been making my own deodorant (1/4c baking soda, 1/4 c cornstarch, 5-6 tbl coconut oil) and I love it, it works so much better than commercial stuff! My underarms were rashy and itchy for about a week but then got better, so maybe it will take a week or so for my scalp and back to normalize?

  10. Christina says:


    I’ve been on the verge of no-soap-land for about a week, so that was a good warm up.

  11. Rosemaria says:

    No soap for two weeks? Definitely!

  12. Alexandra says:

    @Z, oil is totally fair game. this is totally overshare but I think I’m going to use coconut oil for my pits. :)

  13. comagirl says:

    In the uninspiring words of Sarah Palin, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Sorry, but I work out every day and there is just no way i could do this. I would be too selfconscious of smelling to high heaven. Essentially, I know what I smell like after a workout and it ain’t good, babes.

  14. comagirl says:

    I guess I should add that I currently use an organic body wash.

  15. Rebecca says:

    What if you use shampoo to shave your armpits, does that count? If not, then I have been soap-free for….2 years now. Once I switched my shampoo, I used that for shaving too (or conditioner, once I read your blog) so I haven’t used soap or body wash on my body in 2 years. And I use liquid-crystal deodorant AS NEEDED (dance class mostly). I haven’t heard anything about a smell, and I’ve scored myself a new boyfriend in the past year (just moved in with him too! :P)

  16. Siobhan says:

    Go Rebecca! I think that counts as being soap free :) Way to go!

  17. Therese says:

    I haven’t used soap or body washes in the shower for a while now and haven’t noticed any smell just a loofah. Are people going without the deodorant? I have been using a natural one and have been lately noticing a bit of order. I am curious on how the no deodorant is working. That is my biggest stumbling block on the natural band wagon and am looking to see what works. Love this idea.

  18. Genny says:

    Woop woop I’m down.

  19. Andrea says:

    I already only wash the pits and private parts with soap. I don’t think I can give up washing my pits. I smell when I get up in the morning and I REALLY smell after spinning (and I eat a very clean diet).

  20. Julia says:

    I’m in! I’ve been wanting to go in that direction for awhile…
    @Therese – I’ve not been soap/body wash free, but I have minimized my use of deodorant, and so far, my husband, who is not afraid to be honest about matters of personal hygiene, swears he never noticed.
    It will be interesting to see how the two work together!

  21. Steph says:

    I’d love to take part, but i have my entire life. I use shampoo,hand soap and face wash, but aside from that I’ve never used soap. My mum didn’t wash me with any as a child and i’ve just never used it. Sometimes when I feel a little bit more grimey I’ll use a rag, but that’s about it.

  22. Alexis says:

    Awesome Challenge!! I’ve been soap free for about 6-ish years. I wash underarms as needed (with extra Shampoo), I do use a deodorant (Tom’s of Maine), and use homemade soap for washing the “essentials” but soap does not make it on to my limbs or torso. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4+years and he’s never said anything about body odor or anything like that. I’m a firm believer in soap-free. Your skin will thank you!

  23. Madelyn says:

    YES. I’ve managed to miss the boat on your other challenges, but NMDL has managed to convert me to natural-only if/when I shampoo & condition (which I am doing a LOT less of and LOVING it). I’ll totally give this a try.

  24. Loretta says:

    I happened upon your blog by way of the internet rabbit trail! And I think this is worth a try! I have had problems with my skin in the winter and my hair seems all my life. Totally makes sense. So I started today! My husband always did hate all of those “beauty” products I kept trying! So I can’t wait to see what happens, I may just save us a BUNDLE of money! LOL!! I will be posting to my blog on WordPress later, under Lorettawilkins.

    I only used soap on my private parts, and a very small amount of shampoo this morning. I am even letting my hair air dry and not styling at all.

    Happy adventure everyone! Can’t wait to see the other comments as they come in!


  25. Cassie says:

    Haven’t used soap on my body in 10 or more years and switched to a soap-free shampoo about 3 years ago. Best thing I ever did for myself. I have banished all skin problems, including acne and itchy scalp.

  26. Julie Rosier says:

    I actually haven’t used any soap or bodywash for years…just water and my hands. I’ve never had any complaints and my skin is ok. My skin is dry but maybe that’s just the way my skin is. But I haven’t missed the soap at all !

  27. Hanan says:

    As a mom, should’nt be much of a problem!!

  28. Jane says:

    So you want people to go soap free but they can still shampoo? This has worse chemicals in it than soap and you’re getting it on your skin anyway. It would be better to start with no shampoo-water only. I’ve been doing this for years and no more hairloss, hairdresser says I’ve had great regrowth and it is really shiny and thicker. I use an organic natural body wash but thinking now just water. I also use an Ice deodorant. I am really sensitive to artificial fragrance-gives me seizure like brain fogs. I really wish people who use aftershave/ scented body wash/perfume/ deodorant with fragrance butanes lighter fluid stuff etc knew what they were breathing in and inflicting on everyone else…

  29. Moschops says:

    I’ve been doing this for a week already with no issues, but there’s just one problem for me – if you like to wet shave then how do you do that without soap? Is there a no-soap alternative to shaving soap/gel or am I doomed to use an electric for the rest of my soap-free days?

  30. I’m going on record publicly to tell the world, I’m not using soap for 5 days. I blogged about your contest and hope it’s a fabulous success!

    Good luck!

  31. Michele says:

    Six days ago I decided to embark on the no-soap challenge. Day 1 – EVOO on skin + hair; ACV rinse on hair. Used EVCO as deodorant. Day 2 – Slept most of the day; didn’t shower. Day 3 – EVCO on skin before shower + ACV rinse on hair (used extremely diluted ACV rinse on parts needing to be washed); EVCO deodorant. Days 4, 5, + 6 – EVCO on skin before shower + after shower; Soapwalla deodorant. Since washing face is okay, I’ve been using Tata Harper products I got from So far, skin feels alright. A bit dry + itchy in spots, but its Winter in New York – that probably contributes to this. Have minimal breakouts, but I think thats due to my body getting rid of impurities (changed diet also). In summer, I will probably use Dr. Bronner’s when I’m running around barefoot + exploring, but other then that, I think I’ve left the dark side to join our fearless soap-free duo!

  32. Vica says:

    Started yesterday! And it’s really hot in Brazil now.

  33. Van says:

    My week is up! I blogged about the results here:

    I can’t wait to read more soap-free stories.

  34. Emily says:

    What if I already use soap only on my nether regions and armpits? (For the most part.) Does this mean I’m already participating?

  35. Lynne says:

    THANK YOU for issuing this challenge in January! I already use the simplest soap I could find – Kiss My Face Olive Oil bar soap, but my skin was still dry and flaky. Then, I read your posts about soap, and about using honey as a face cleanser. I ditched the soap immediately, and moved the honey up to the bathroom cabinet. Now, my dry 40s skin is finally soft and comfortable, there’s no odor at all, and I’m being even nicer to the environment. Ahhh…

  36. Jessica Anne says:

    I stumbled across this article late one night… After I read it I thought “Huh… Interesting.” and left it at that for a while. But a few weeks ago it popped into my mind and I thought to myself, why not? Several months back I gave up shampoo and started using conditioner only and it did amazing things for my previously unmanageable curls, so maybe going soap-free would help with my skin problems (my face and chest is very oily and prone to breakouts, but I tend to have dry skin everywhere else).

    So, for the last two weeks I have been using soap on my pits and private areas only. That’s right, I even stopped washing my face! (Though I will admit that I’ve continued to use my old body wash for shaving…) So far my face doesn’t seem to be as oily as it used to be and isn’t breaking out as badly, and the skin on the rest of my body is wonderfully soft! Of the people I’ve let know about this, no on has mentioned any sort of smell or oiliness or anything. Even my boyfriend doesn’t mind! As as an added benefit to the obvious “green factor”, fewer products means more money left for fun things!

    While I’ve always been fairly green, if you had asked me a year ago if I would be willing to give up nearly all my hair care products, stop using soap, stop using shampoo, and quit wearing make up I would have asked if you were insane. But now that I’ve tried it I don’t think I’ll ever want to go back! So I guess all this has taught me me that the answer to all my beauty needs is *NOT* to just keep throwing more products at a problem, the solution is to cut back to (almost) nothing, see what your hair & skin are really like in their natural state, and then try to use minimal products to correct any issues that may still exist.

  37. Laurie says:


    I went to all natural bar soap about a year ago and my husband and I have been using it for everything. Shampoo and shaving cream as well as washing our bodies.

    The draw back to this is it leaves tons more soap scum than chemical soaps. I have a theory why, but I won’t get into it.

    Anywho, I went looking online trying to find a way to combat this without using harsh chemical soap scum removers ..and low and behold…I ran across a lot of information on “no soap or shampoo” showering.

    Intrigued, I had to try it. I’m not working now and home alone most of the time, so why not?? I run a clean fresh wash cloth all over as if it were soapy and that’s it. For deodorant I only use a little “dry” baking soda, dusting it on my arm pits and down yonder (little bit will do ya now) and I smell great and my hair looks great and is easier to manage.

    My husband said my hair smells faintly of celery. He said it’s a pleasant smell.

    Evidently using soaps of any kind (what I’ve been reading) changes the ph of you’re skin and that’s not a good thing. I read something a nurse posted in a forum saying a study was done and now they claim washing with soap is harmful and not to wash hands with it but instead scrub them with water even after using the bathroom. And they are evidently stopping cleaning wounds with soap and only using water so the skins natural oils having a natural antibiotic has a chance to help wounds heal if not washed away with soap – interesting?

    I’m happy, very happy and don’t see myself ever going back to soap/shampoo, not even for my face.

    I use peroxide or baking soda to brush my teeth and peroxide with water, half and half, for mouth wash. Works great.

    I’ve also started washing my dishes in hot water with baking soda. It works wonderfully. … When I use the dishwasher I rinse off all food and grease and put a little baking soda in and wash away!

    I’m now looking into doing laundry with only baking soda and white vinegar or ammonia. =)


  38. Dallas says:

    Laurie, keep using soap to wash your hands. There is not much evidence yet that soap doesn’t work.

  39. lelia says:

    so in… a few months back i started just washing my face with water only and the results have been great. i suffered from mild acne breakouts for as long as i can remember but within a month my face had cleared. if it worked so well for one part of my skin it should work for the rest. i started the no soap thing beginning december and seeing this post makes me feel like i’m not that weird. honestly just to encourage the rest of you, no soap is better than soap. your skin is going to love you for this, but for me it took a few days for my skin to start balancing itself out naturally. ps i use homemade natural moisturiser too (shea butter, coconut oil, aloe butter and hot six oil mix).

  40. Renee says:

    Posting well after the challenge. I have not used soap in 6 months, and I live in Tucson where it is HOT. If anything, I have less shtank without soap than I did with.

    A few months ago, I decided to give my pits a washing with soap and oh my god… by the end of the day they were rank! So, back to the no soap and all was well :) The no soap goes for the naughty bits as well. Even confirmed with a doctor that soap dries things out, causing an overload of bacteria production and smell, thus “necessitating” the use of soap again and again. Ditching the soap allows the skin to have a balance of good and bad bacteria, and smells become normal rather than offensive.

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