The best unscented, moisturizing and foaming hand washes -- and ones to ward off germs.
Editor's note, March 8, 2023: The hand soap recommendations in this article are out of date and will not be updated going forward. These picks were the best options available at the time, but you may find some of these options have either changed or are no longer available.
Proper hand washing is your first line of defense against illness, especially colds and flus. But which soaps are the most effective?
There are tons of options out there for hand washing -- including liquid hand soap, bar soap, foam soap, antibacterial soap and chemical-free soap. Whether you like the texture of pump foam soaps, the familiarity of liquid soaps or the creamy lather of a bar, you can get the job done.
I selected these soaps based on ingredients, buyer reviews, clinical testing, value for money and my personal experience with the brands. If you're looking to stock up on the best hand soap to fend off illness or simply keep your hands clean, these seven can do the trick.
Household names are household names for a reason -- they work and people like them. Softsoap Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap has been shown to reduce 99.9% of harmful bacteria and germs, including Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Reviewers on Amazon love that this Softsoap liquid soap lasts a long time and despite being an antibacterial soap, this moisturizing hand wash soap doesn't leave your hands feeling dry, flaky or crusty. It's nice and affordable, too.
If you're a fan of foaming hand wash and still want all the microbe-murdering power, try Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap. Another popular household brand name, Dial has also used clinical testing to prove its antibacterial hand soap kills up to 99.99% of germs and bacteria, although the brand clarifies that the foaming soap is tested on common household germs, as opposed to, say, a respiratory pathogen.
If luxury hand soap isn't your jam, pivot to the other end of the soap spectrum and check out Dial's basic liquid hand soap for just $2 per bottle.
It's not the same as Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap, covered above: Plain Dial Liquid Hand Soap doesn't have the antimicrobial agent benzalkonium chloride, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibacterial soaps don't protect you more than regular soap if you wash for the recommended 20 seconds. So go ahead and get your liquid hand soap refill for just under $3.
At just $3 per bottle, Seventh Generation hand soap is free of dyes, harmful chemicals, fragrances or phthalates -- a steal for people with sensitive skin or those who just want a natural soap for gentle cleansing. Buyers on Amazon love the consistency of the soap (not too liquidy), that it lathers nicely and keeps all skin types clean but not dry or irritated.
Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap uses a plant-based, organic formula developed by doctors. It doesn't contain alcohol or other antimicrobial agents, which can lead to dry skin if you wash your hands often. Puracy Natural also includes glycerin, aloe vera and essential oils to hydrate your skin while cleansing it.
Buyers on Amazon praise the brand for helping with extremely dry hands, soothing eczema and keeping dermatitis at bay with aloe vera and plant-based ingredients.
Mrs. Meyer's has become a popular brand for its subtle scents and effectiveness. I personally use Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day hand soap (as well as dish soap and household cleaners), and this brand has never failed me.
The cruelty-free formula is made with mostly plant-based natural ingredients, including essential oils. It doesn't contain parabens, sulfates, triclosan or phthalates, although it does contain some surfactants -- but you can't really get away from surfactants if you want to get clean, and there's no evidence that they're harmful.
I can't say I'd spend nearly $40 on a single bottle of hand soap, but it's available for those who want to. It comes in a fancy bottle, if that helps. And the scent -- sweet orange, cedarwood and sage -- sounds lovely.
It's available on Dermstore, too, which is a brand founded by a dermatologist, so it may be worth the price (especially if you want a plant-based soap that's gentle on skin). Beware of