Person using soap to wash hands and wondering "does soap kill STDs?"

Does Soap Kill STDs?

Written on December 20, 2023 by Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) affect millions of people worldwide.[1] While there are several different types of STDs, many people find themselves wondering how to get rid of them. Does soap kill STDs? Read this article for everything you need to know.

What Are STDs?

STDs are transmitted via sexual contact and are also known as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).[2] While STDs are mainly transmitted via sexual acts and sexual contact, they can also be passed during pregnancy and childbirth or through the sharing of fluids and/or needles. STDs can present with a wide variety of symptoms, and some may present asymptomatically.

Some of the most common forms of STDs include chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human papillomavirus (HPV), and syphilis.[3] If you believe that you or a partner may have an STD, it is important to get tested by a qualified healthcare provider, as STDs are contagious. A healthcare provider will provide you with the results and appropriate treatment plan based on any positive STD result.

Does Soap Kill STDs?

Many people wonder, does soap kill STDs? The short answer is no. However, this does not imply that you shouldn’t aim to practice adequate hygiene practices before and after sexual activities. While soap and washing of your body and any sexual props is helpful, as using soap may help to kill some viruses or bacteria, it is not a surefire way to kill STDs. Part of the reason why soap does not kill STDs is due to the nature of how most STDs are passed or acquired.

As mentioned above, STDs are typically passed from one person to another through sexual activity, namely vaginal, anal, or oral sex.[5] Because the transfer of fluids or transfer of infection typically happens within a relatively short, specific period during sexual activity, the STD is likely already transferred by the time someone is finished having sex. Thus, while washing off the body is helpful for cleanliness and to reduce the general spread of germs, it won’t entirely kill STDs.

Everlywell STD testing CTA graphic

How to Treat or Kill STDs

Treatment for STDs will depend on which STD you have and what a healthcare provider deems the most appropriate treatment plan. Some of the treatment modalities for common STDs include [6]:

  • Chlamydia: This STD is often treated with antibiotics. It may be treated alongside gonorrhea, as these STDs often occur together.
  • Gonorrhea: This STD is typically treated with antibiotics.
  • Genital herpes: This STD cannot be fully cured but is managed with medications.
  • HIV and AIDS: These STDs are treated based on an individual’s clinical and immune status. Some HIV cases are treated with the medication Truvada.
  • HPV: This STD cannot be cured but it is managed with medication and can typically be prevented with vaccinations.
  • Syphilis: This STD can be treated with antibiotics, with treatment ranging in duration depending on when the STD was found and how advanced the infection is.
  • Bacterial vaginosis: This STD can be treated using the antibiotics metronidazole or clindamycin.
  • Trichomoniasis: This STD can be treated with the antibiotics metronidazole or tinidazole.

How to Prevent STDs

Because basic hygiene practices are unlikely to kill STDs and are not a useful form of prevention of STDs, taking steps to prevent STDs is important. Some of the best ways to prevent the transfer of STDs include [2]:

  • Abstinence: The most obvious way to prevent the spread of STDs is through abstaining from sexual activity entirely.
  • Get to know your partners: If you have been with several partners or are with someone who has been with many partners, having yourself and your partners tested can help prevent the spread of STDs. Asking partners for a history of STD tests before having sex with them can help reduce the chances of contracting an STD in the first place.
  • Use protection: Using condoms and dental dams while having sex can help prevent the spread of STDs.
  • Have sober sex: Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol can increase the risk of spreading STDs due to the decline in awareness and ability to make sound decisions.

Support Your Sexual Health With Everlywell

At Everlywell, we combine the best in modernized, rigorous lab testing with easy-to-access, at-home medicine. We provide a range of blood tests, including several of our sexual health tests, that you can take from the comfort of your home. Your results will be analyzed in CLIA-certified labs and an experienced healthcare provider will deliver your results. Take control of your health today with Everlywell.

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  1. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). World Health Organization. Published July 10, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023.
  2. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. Published September 8, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023.
  3. Sexually transmitted infections. Cleveland Clinic. Updated February 2, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023.
  4. STD - Diseases & Related Conditions. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Last reviewed July 7, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023.
  5. What are some types of and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)? National Institutes of Health. Last reviewed January 31, 2017. Accessed December 6, 2023.

Jordan Stachel, M.S., RDN, CPT works with a wide variety of individuals, ranging in age from children to the elderly, with an assortment of concerns and clinical conditions. She helps individuals optimize overall health and/or manage disease states using personalized medical nutrition therapy techniques.

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