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The Best Hand Soap

Last updated on October 6, 2023
Best Hand Soap

Our Review Process

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Our Picks For The Top Hand Soaps

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

Softsoap Lathering pH Balanced Hand Soap, 6-Pack

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Lathering pH Balanced Hand Soap, 6-Pack

This liquid hand soap lives up to its name. This soap comes in a lively container and dispenses smoothly. The ingredients are free of not only parabens but also soy, gluten, nickel and many preservatives that are likely to cause allergies.

Overall Take

Safe For SkinThis liquid hand soap keeps hands clean and free of preservatives.

 Runner Up

Everyone Gentle & Nourishing Hand Soap, 3-Pack


Gentle & Nourishing Hand Soap, 3-Pack

This lavender coconut hand soap comes by its scent and pleasing consistency honestly. There are no parabens, phthalates or dyes and it is also GMO-free. The essential oils and vitamins leave your hands cleaner and healthier.

Overall Take

Real, Nutritious IngredientsThis lavender coconut hand soap is great for those who care about their skin.

 We Also Like

Mrs. Meyer’s Aromatherapy Chemical-Free Hand Soap, 3-Pack

Mrs. Meyer’s

Aromatherapy Chemical-Free Hand Soap, 3-Pack

This lemon verbena hand soap goes on with a pleasing citrus scent. Thanks to aloe vera and a host of other fortifying ingredients, it leaves the hands soft and clean. Best of all, it's made cruelty-free and without parabens.

Overall Take

Citrus-Scented CleaningThis lemon verbena hand soap smells as great as it feels.

 Strong Contender

Method Sweet Water Foaming Hand Soap, 6-Pack


Sweet Water Foaming Hand Soap, 6-Pack

This foaming hand soap is made from an array of natural ingredients. It is also free of triclosan or other harmful substances and is biodegradable. The foaming soap is very affordable and does a great job at keep hands moist and clean.

Overall Take

Affordable, Natural SoapThis foaming hand soap is a great, natural way to keep clean on a budget.

Buying Guide

In the best of times, many of us rarely think about hand soap. But ever since a certain global health crisis, people are a lot more concerned about the frequency with which they wash their hands — and what they’re washing them with.

The standard hand cleaner that you buy off the shelf these days is going to be liquid soap in some sort of pump dispenser. Even those who prefer old-fashioned bars of soap have to admit they leave bathroom sinks with a bit of a residue that can be difficult to clean. As we’ll see, commercial hand soaps can be made with a wide variety of ingredients, but the basic chemical process for making soap involves some kind of animal fat or (more commonly for modern soaps) vegetable oil. To that oil is added precise amounts of an alkaline solution. That initiates the process of saponification that turns those fats or oils into soap.

Of course, even a cursory look at the back of a soap container will tell you that those two ingredients are far from the only things in the bottle. The big active ingredient in your soap will typically be a surfactant of some kind. Surfactants are usually sulfate compounds, some derivative of alcohol, and they do the “heavy lifting” that you expect out of your soap: Namely, separating dirt and grease from your hands and dissolving it in water.

MORE: The Best Soap Dispenser

If your soap is antimicrobial or antibacterial, you might see a lot more ingredients with names that are tougher to pronounce. Benzalkonium chloride and chloroxylenol are just a couple of common ones. One antibacterial agent that was found to be potentially harmful to humans is triclosan. New mothers will especially want to avoid this one, as triclosan can cause hormone imbalances and show up in breast milk. The FDA banned the use of this ingredient for hand soaps in 2016, but keep an eye out for it in older or less regulated products.

There’s a number of other ingredients, antibacterial or otherwise, that health-conscious hand-washers will want to keep an eye out for. Parabens are a big one — these preservatives have also been found to disrupt hormone production and can even irritate the skin of some users.

Most hand soaps will also contain some moisturizing ingredients. These can range from natural oils like aloe vera or shea butter to chemicals like glycerin that can actually seal moisture into the skin surface. If you have uncommonly dry hands or live in a place with very cold winters, you’ll want a good moisturizing soap to protect that skin.

Want your hands to not just feel cleaner, but smell that way? Many hand soaps employ a fragrance of some kind. Again, keep an eye on the ingredient list. It’s harder to do in this case, since “fragrance” can be listed on many soaps without outlining the chemicals that produce them. More eco-friendly soaps will typically tell you what their scents derive from, as they can be added by natural means with plant oils.

What to Look For

When it comes to hand soap, there are generally two types: Foaming or liquid. Which one is right for you? You’ll generally find foaming soaps in most offices and restaurants, and there’s a reason for that. These soaps require less water to make, and people tend to use less of it to wash their hands. That saves the business money in the long run, and it can save you cash as well. On the other hand, there’s research to suggest that people tend to stay at the sink longer when using liquid soap and therefore get their hands a bit cleaner.

More to Explore

It can be tough to navigate the ingredients on a soap bottle these days, but (like a lot of things) it was a lot easier in the old days. There is a record that as early as 2800 BC, Babylonians were making soap by boiling animal fats such as goat tallow in a simple solution made with wood ashes.

MORE: The Best Travel Hand Sanitizer

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