Hand soapsShare on Pinterest

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Washing your hands is one of the easiest and best ways to help prevent the spread of germs.

While it’s particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing is always the best practice before you eat and after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose… the list goes on.

That’s a lot of handwashing, so which soap is up for the job?

We rounded up eight of the best hand soaps to keep your hands fresh, clean, and moisturized — no matter how often you wash up.

A good hand soap effectively kills germs without causing irritation or drying out your skin.

For a cleanse that’s both gentle on your skin and tough on germs, we looked for soaps made with moisturizing ingredients like olive oil, aloe vera, and glycerin.

We also checked for high customer ratings and included soaps made with essential oils for a pleasing fragrance every time you scrub up.

Pricing guide

Prices are based on the price per bottle:

$ = under $5
$$ = $5–$10
$$$ = $11–$15

EO

Price: $$

Aromatherapy is the name of the game with EO soaps, which are made without parabens, artificial colors or dyes, or synthetic fragrances. Reviewers rave about all six light scents.

This is one of just two soaps on our list formulated without glycerin. Instead, amino acid-derived cleansers and aloe vera combine for a gentle, moisturizing clean.

Williams Sonoma

Price: $$$

This biodegradable formula includes olive oil, aloe vera, and glycerin. Essential oils provide a light floral fragrance that reviewers describe as fresh and calming.

Like all Williams Sonoma hand soaps, it’s made without parabens, ammonia, chlorine, or phthalates.

Mrs. Meyer's

Price: $

Known for its signature garden-inspired scents, Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap is a cruelty-free option made without parabens, phthalates, or animal-derived ingredients. A blend of essential oils, aloe vera, olive oil, and glycerin soften and clean hands without drying them out.

Some scents are offered in a 33-ounce refill, cutting down on plastic waste. Keep an eye out for limited edition seasonal scents, too.

Everyone

Price: $

This inexpensive hand soap is verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), meaning it’s transparent about its ingredients and avoids ingredients on the EWG’s “unacceptable” list.

The sweet and citrus-y aroma is derived from essential oils. No synthetic ingredients are added.

This is another soap on our list without glycerin. Instead, the coconut-derived cleansers in the formula are balanced with vitamin E for clean, moisturized hands.

Puracy

Price: $$

This eco-friendly foaming hand soap is nontoxic and cruelty-free. It’s made without sulfates, parabens, phosphates, perfumes, and dyes.

Reviewers enjoy its ability to clean while leaving skin feeling smooth and refreshed. It comes in two mild scents.

If you’re not a fan of foaming soap, Puracy also offers traditional gel hand soap. You can purchase 64-ounce refills of either product to minimize plastic waste.

Attitude

Price: $$$

Attitude hand soaps are EWG-verified and certified cruelty-free by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Biodegradable and hypoallergenic, this soap uses plant and mineral-based ingredients, including moringa seed extract, to cleanse and moisturize.

Cleancult

Price: $$$

With just nine ingredients, including nourishing vitamin E, this coconut-based formula smells like lavender and citrus thanks to the natural essential oil blend.

While some people with sensitive skin may find essential oils irritating, some reviewers say it works well for sensitive skin. Reviewers also say it doesn’t dry out skin.

Check out the 16-ounce refill, which comes in paper-based milk cartons.

Seventh Generation

Price: $$

This unscented formula is as straightforward as it gets. Made without dyes and fragrance, it’s a gentle, plant-based option well suited for those with sensitive skin or allergies. Reviewers report that it’s both nonirritating and effective.

This soap is a USDA Certified Biobased product, which means it’s made of at least 97 percent plant-based or renewable ingredients.

Antibacterial soaps have ingredients that are intended to minimize or prevent bacterial infections. That sounds great, but those antibacterial ingredients themselves can be problematic.

For years, triclosan was the active ingredient in antibacterial soaps. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned triclosan, pointing to a lack of evidence about safety and effectiveness.

Many manufacturers replaced the banned substances with benzalkonium chloride. However, the jury is still out whether this ingredient is safe for daily use over a long period of time.

The EWG cites strong evidence that benzalkonium chloride is an irritant to the skin and immune and respiratory systems.

In addition to concerns over their long-term health effects, research suggests that these ingredients may actually be creating antibacterial-resistant microbes.

To date, the FDA says there’s no evidence that over-the-counter antibacterial soaps are more effective than plain soap and good handwashing practices.

No matter what soap you’re using, it’s important to lather up properly. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend a seven-step process for cleaning hands:

  1. Use clean, running water to wet your hands.
  2. Use enough soap to cover your hands and wrists.
  3. Rub your hands together briskly and thoroughly, scrubbing the fronts and backs and between your fingers. Don’t forget your fingertips and wrists.
  4. Continue scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.
  5. Rinse thoroughly with clean, running water.
  6. Dry with a clean towel, or allow your hands and wrists to air-dry.
  7. Use a towel to turn off the faucet.

Washing your hands regularly helps keep you healthy and prevents the spread of germs. And with all the handwashing happening these days, it’s worth finding a soap that makes the experience enjoyable.

While an antibacterial soap isn’t necessary, it’s important to suds up thoroughly. Cover the entire surface of your hands, fingers, and wrists with soap before rinsing with clean, running water.