We’re all taught about the importance of having clean hands to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. But Americans fail to wash them properly an astonishing 97 percent of the time, according to a 2018 study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To do a good job, first you must have the correct tools. So, here are the best hand soaps you can buy, and others that you might want to avoid.
10. Live Clean Coconut Milk Moisturizing Liquid Hand Soap – recommended
Live Clean promises to be as kind to the environment as its products are to the skin. This soap is apparently made of up to 97 percent natural ingredients, and it’s free from harsh chemicals, too. What’s more, this amazing-smelling hand soap is completely vegan, isn’t tested on animals and is made from locally sourced ingredients.
This germ-busting natural wonder also comes in fully recyclable packaging. In fact, the only point that lets it down – according to Global News journalist Meaghan Wray – is its inability to lather. But the reporter was otherwise complimentary, telling the Canadian news outlet in June 2020, “For a cost-effective vegan soap, I’d definitely recommend this one. I liked knowing that no harmful chemicals were running down my sink.”
9. Perth Soap Co. Milk & Honey Cleansing Bar – recommended
The argan oil contained in this soap bar provides many benefits. The plant is from North Africa and it’s a great source of vitamin E – with its hefty dose of antioxidants. Some studies have found that argan oil plays a role in treating the swelling caused by infections and injury. However, more research is necessary for conclusive proof of this claim.
Other research on humans has also found that argan oil might also decrease the appearance of aging. In addition, when the product applied directly to the skin it could potentially improve its elasticity and moisture content. Some people also believe that it can treat skin conditions, infections and even minor wounds. This cleansing bar, then, may offer more than just clean hands.
8. Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps and Organic Body Care – recommended
Perhaps one of the most versatile soaps on the market is from Dr. Bronner. Its natural, chemical-free products are kind to the skin and environmentally friendly, too. A combination of coconut, olive oil, hemp and jojoba are used to form a soap that leaves the skin soft long after the lather has been washed away.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap can also be used beyond personal hygiene. According to Healthline, you can use it to scrub dishes, wipe the windows, do the laundry, mop the floor, rinse the toilet and many other cleaning jobs around the house. Its natural properties will even help to cleanse minor wounds and decongest sinuses.
7. Sapadilla Sweet Lavender and Lime Hand Soap – recommended
This Canadian soap is another entry making the case for natural ingredients. What’s more, it’s vegan and made entirely of essential oils. The journalist Meaghan Wray told Global News, “I really love a natural, spa-like scent, so that’s what I first noticed. It lathers nicely and the bottle looks nice on my counter.” But what about the product’s cleaning capabilities?
For her part, Wray found that the soap was capable of tackling stubborn smells. She said, “My hands were a touch dry, but I didn’t mind so much because I liked so many other aspects of the soap. This one was particularly perfect to have in my kitchen, because the natural scent cut through strong smells like garlic.”
6. Attitude’s Super leaves Orange Leaves Hand Soap – recommended
The leaves from an orange tree are capable of giving us a glowing complexion, according to the online beauty retailer Big Green Smile. And, as a key ingredient in this soap, skin is apparently left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. What’s more, a powerful cleanser called moringa seed extract helps eliminate toxins and other pollutants.
But those who aren’t fans of oranges needn’t miss out; there are other varieties available, too. As journalist and reviewer Adam Wallis explained to Global News, “Everything about this soap is appealing – even the bottle. It has restorative properties, it smells good and it makes you feel good.” He gave the soap full marks, adding, “Who knew soap could be so satisfying?”
5. Lush Milky Bar – recommended
Fresh, natural, vegan, cruelty free ingredients are, of course, part of cosmetics company Lush’s M.O. But, sometimes, so are bright colors, fancy designs and glitter. Some of the company’s products may look good enough to eat, but how practical are they in terms of cleanliness and hygiene? Well, apparently Lush’s Milky Bar soap performance is as good as it looks.
Global News reporter Josh Elliott found the soap delivered on its purpose – despite the awkward milk bottle shape. Not only does the glitter dissolve, but, he said, “This is great stuff. It’s gentle on your hands, it lathers up nicely and it doesn’t smell too much. It’s not perfume masquerading as a soap – it’s just really, really nice soap.”
4. Bath & Bodyworks Peach Bellini Gentle Foaming Hand Soap – recommended
Bath & Body Works has spent two decades concocting aromas to raise a smile. Its website describes the product as “a delicious twist of juicy peach, white apricot and fresh mango.” But does this heady cocktail deliver the goods in terms of hand washing?
Its combination of vitamin E, aloe, shea extract and essential oils gently lifts grime while fighting germs. The former compound alone is good for reversing damage caused by the sun and can protect skin from further harm. Meanwhile, shea softens it and aloe provides hydration. Peach might not be for everyone, but there are many other scents available in the range.
3. Method Foaming Hand Soap – recommended
Those conscious of wasting water may want to consider switching to a foaming hand soap. According to the blog Hygiene Hub, industry studies have found that they may reduce water usage by 16 percent compared to liquid equivalents. Moreover, it’s not necessary to soak hands in order to lather up, and this means that we only half the water we use to clean our hands. Foaming hand soaps solve this conundrum – but which one is the best?
Business Insider rates Method Foaming Hand Soap as the top product in this line. It’s free from alcohol, which can cause the skin to dehydrate. Other chemicals are also kept off the ingredients list. Instead, the soap has aloe and vitamin E, which soothe and revive skin. Journalist Steven John at Business Insider wrote in April 2020, “A big dollop of foamy soap lathers up quickly, and I certainly like the fresh, crisp scent…”
2. Cocoon Apothecary Touchy Feely Hand Soap – recommended
This product is another soap that boasts vegan, eco-friendly and chemical-free credentials. Its main ingredients are coconut, lavender and rosemary essential oils, which are in turn good for cleansing, purifying, smoothing and refreshing. Meanwhile, its distilled formula reduces packaging requirements for those mindful of waste.
Reporter Olivia Bowden wrote on the Global News website that the soap is pretty powerful. She said, “After pumping out the soap, I immediately noticed that the product felt hydrating. The scent was not overpowering, but [it] smelled natural… I’ve never experienced a hand soap where my hands didn’t feel slightly drier afterward. As someone with dry skin, this was a big deal.”
1. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap, Peony Scent – recommended
Some of Mrs. Meyer’s products are inspired by plants that might be found in typical Midwestern back yards. The eponymous company owner herself was a mother of nine, so who better to know about the removal of dirt and grime? The firm’s website claims that its soaps will “scrub away dirt and germs” while leaving “hands feeling super-hydrated.” But does it live up to the hype?
Well, according to reporter Meghan Collie at Global News, “This soap was a winner for me. The formula is light but effective, and it suds up really easily, which is so satisfying.” Not only that, but it’s widely available and reasonably priced. Collie added, “It’s old-fashioned but sturdy, and the pink label looks super cute in my bathroom. The peony scent is also so fresh and light.”
10. Softsoap Hand Soap Soothing Aloe Vera Moisturizing Hand Soap – maybe avoid
This widely available soap delivers exactly what it promises – but otherwise falls flat. Its aloe vera content soothes the skin, and it could be mistaken for a moisturizer if not for its soap-like texture. So, what’s the problem?
Well, despite its budget-friendly price tag, its weak smell means it trails behind other brands. Journalist and reviewer Adam Wallis told Global News, “My hands feel soft, smooth and clean. It’s certainly not the sliced bread of soaps, but it delivers all that it promises. The lack of a lasting scent, unfortunately, leaves something to be desired.”
9. Dove Bar Soap – maybe avoid
Perhaps surprisingly, not all well-known brands produce the best products. Reporter Arti Patel told the publication, “I use this soap on my body, so how different can it be on my hands? It was something I didn’t consider an issue, but I quickly realized my daily body soap was not my go-to hand soap.” .
Germs can be transmitted from one person to the next quite easily via bar soaps, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. They should certainly be avoided in public facilities and by families if a member is prone to skin infections. Liquid soaps also benefit from moisturizing agents, which is kinder to the skin for frequent hand washers.
8. Nature Clean Liquid Hand Soap – Citrus – maybe avoid
Sadly, not every all-natural brand gets it right. This citrus product from Nature Clean might smell fresh, but it falls short on the job, according to reporter Laura Hensley. She wrote on the Global News website, “While the scent is great and light – and the product does a good job at washing hands – my skin was in need of some serious moisturizer.”
Hensley went on, “… I would recommend this product if you want something plant-based. [But] make sure you use hand moisturizer after each wash.” Indeed, it’s not the soap’s job to moisturize skin. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates products based on their intended use, and a product marketed as a soap is treated as such. If it claims any additional properties – such as moisturizing – it would then be classed as a cosmetic.
7. Ivory Bar Soap – maybe avoid
This product is a functional choice and could perhaps be described as the vanilla ice cream of soap. As Elliott described, “This is your basic bar of soap. It’s a simple, no-frills bar that doesn’t crumble or leave residue on your hands, and you won’t be smelling it more than ten seconds after you wash up. [The] lather is decent, too.”
The Ivory Bar Soap is very budget friendly if you’re looking for nothing more than clean hands. Elliott wrote on the Global News website, “This soap is effective and forgettable. It does the job – nothing more and nothing less. My hands didn’t smell especially nice or feel especially soft, but they weren’t dry either.”
6. eco+amour Refill e+a Hand Soap – maybe avoid
Canadian company eco+amour prides itself on being kind to the environment. It boasts that its products are free from palm oil – a product which massively contributes to deforestation in South East Asia. Not only are their products organic and vegan, they also don’t contain chemicals and the packaging is biodegradable. But what is the soap itself like?
The product is perfectly functional as soap and doesn’t dry out skin, but it’s otherwise underwhelming, according to Global News reviewer and journalist Katie Scott. However, she liked the idea of the refill packaging and the fact that it is biodegradable.
5. Rosemary & Lemongrass Hand Soap – Caron & Doucet – maybe avoid
This soap is free from parabens, sulfates and phosphates. Furthermore, there are no GMO products, it’s suitable for gluten-intolerant consumers and its cruelty free. Lemongrass is rich in vitamins A and C, which contribute to shiny hair and clear skin. They also balance your oil levels while also minimizing pores. Rosemary, meanwhile, evens out dark spots.
However, Global News’ Chris Jancelewicz found the soap to be gelatinous and hard to handle. He said, “After several seconds of moving the soap around in my hands with water, the soap didn’t really glide. It stuck to my hand, and I had to be rather rigorous to get a lather going.” But, the reporter added, the scent is incredible.
4. Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash – maybe avoid
This Australian brand says that “we have maintained a fiercely independent approach to product research and development. Our team of skilled chemical scientists works out of our Head Office in a utilitarian, custom-built laboratory – conceptualising product ideas, researching blends, and creating prototypes.” That is perhaps what contributes to its hefty price tag: nearly $35, according to its website. Evidently, this hand wash is an indulgence, but some things are worth the investment, and surely self-care should be a priority. So, is this product worth it?
Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash is apparently an indulgence to be used sparingly, according to Global News’ Meghan Collie. She said, “It’s a good soap, but it might be a better fit for your guest bathroom or a space that isn’t used all the time instead of an all-day, everyday product.”
3. Meijer Lavender & Chamomile Hand Soap – maybe avoid
According to the company’s website, “This mild hand soap is gentle on your skin. The lavender and chamomile fragrance works great as a bathroom or kitchen hand soap.” However, the EWG found the fragrance it contains to be less than friendly in other areas.
In fact, the EWG argued that those with existing allergies such as asthma should avoid Meijer Lavender & Chamomile Hand Soap altogether. It also listed “contamination concerns” as another worry and suggested that the product could irritate the skin and eyes, too. Nevertheless, the organization itself admitted that data on the product was limited, so more work will be needed to ascertain any risks for certain.
2. Dial Gold Antibacterial Hand Soap – maybe avoid
Dial Gold Antibacterial Hand Soap scored well in many areas of the EWG’s tests. However, the product’s fragrance let it due to concerns over allergens. Whatever you’re looking for in a soap, it’s perhaps important to check the ingredients if you have a known allergy.
In 2016 the FDA actually banned the use of antibacterial agents in hand soaps. And this is a good thing for consumers; studies found that they can infiltrate breast milk and urine. And research conducted in the U.S. and Pakistan found that including antibacterials in soap didn’t actually prevent the spread of infectious diseases, according to The Guardian.
1. Young Living’s Thieves Foaming Hand Soap – maybe avoid
Young Living boasts that its Thieves Foaming Hand Soap “will cleanse, defend, and condition the skin…” However, the independent Environmental Working Group (EWG) has raised concerns about its ingredients. You see, among the additives listed is a fair amount of retinyl palmitate, which raised a red flag within the collective’s safety analysis.
Now, this soap scores highly among fans on Amazon. But retinyl palmitate – a type of vitamin A – is worrying for the EWG. The problem occurs when the compound is applied before exposure to excessive amounts of sunlight. And scientists working for the U.S. government think that it may be responsible for increased risk of skin tumors. Nevertheless, more tests are needed to prove this conclusively.