This article discusses the health effects that may occur from swallowing soap. This can happen by accident or on purpose. Swallowing soap does not usually cause serious problems.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Most bar soaps are considered harmless (nontoxic), but some may contain ingredients that can be harmful if they are swallowed.
Various bar soaps
Symptoms that might occur are:
DO NOT make the person throw up unless poison control or a health care provider tells you to.
Give the person water or milk right away, unless a provider tells you not to. DO NOT give anything to drink if the person has symptoms that make it hard to swallow. These include vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness.
Before Calling Emergency
Have this information ready:
- Person's age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What to Expect at the Emergency Room
The person may not need to go to the emergency room.
If they do go, the provider will measure and monitor their vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.
People usually recover after swallowing soap.
How well someone does depends on how much soap they swallowed and how quickly they receive medical care (if care is needed).
Soap - swallowing; Soap ingestion
Bateman ND. Household products. Medicine. 2012;40(3):125-126. www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1357303911003331?np=y Accessed October 19, 2015.
Sioris LJ, Schuller HK. Soaps, detergents, and bleaches. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 102.
Update Date 10/19/2015
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.