There has been a surge in handwashing over the past year and that’s great for protecting human health. But people are suffering the downsides: dry skin, peeling cuticles, brittle nails, and chapped hands. While moisturizing after washing can relieve some of the symptoms, it’s not a complete solution. It’s better to prevent the problem in the first place.
How can you protect your hands against dryness and still kill germs? We turned to the best natural hand soaps. These safe hand soaps avoid harsh surfactants and allergy-causing ingredients. They don’t dehydrate the skin as regular soap does.
What is the best hand soap? Check out our favorites below:
|The best natural hand soaps
|Why we love them
|Makes 3 Organics Shea Butter Soap
|Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Liquid Soap
|Seventh Generation Hand Soap
|Kiss My Face Moisture Liquid Hand Soap
|Meliora Vegan, Palm-Free, Fragrance-Free Soap Bar
- 1 What hand soaps should you avoid?
- 2 What’s better: a natural soap bar or liquid hand wash?
- 3 Should you buy scented hand soap?
- 4 Best Natural Hand Soaps in 2024
- 4.1 Makes 3 Organics Shea Butter Soap Pack – 100% Handcrafted Organic
- 4.2 Dr. Bronners – Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
- 4.3 Seventh Generation Hand Soap, Free & Clean Unscented
- 4.4 Kiss My Face Moisture Liquid Hand Soap, Fragrance-Free
- 4.5 Meliora Cleaning Products Vegan, Palm-Free, Fragrance-Free Bath and Body Soap Bar
- 5 Conclusion
What hand soaps should you avoid?
Before we dive into reviews of the best natural hand soaps, here are the reasons why you should switch to something better.
A typical soap contains surfactants that lift the grime and oil from the skin. They also often have preservatives, lather enhancers, artificial colors, and fragrances. Any of these ingredients may contribute to dry skin and a sensation of tightness or itching after washing (1).
Worse, although some companies try to prevent bad results by using “milder” ingredients like cocamidopropyl betaine instead of sulfates, these components are sometimes contaminated by carcinogens or heavy metals. That’s why if you look up the soap on the EWG database, it gets a bad rating.
On the other hand, a non-toxic soap tends to rely on natural solutions. It has gentle surfactants, extra moisturizers, with no artificial coloring, scent, preservatives, or lather enhancer. You may not get as much foam or enjoy a strong, long-lasting fragrance, but the soap still does its job by removing impurities.
What’s better: a natural soap bar or liquid hand wash?
Both liquid and bar soap are equally good as long as the ingredients are safe and pure. Instead, consider both convenience and your concern for the environment.
Plastic pump top bottles are handy, reusable, and in many cases recyclable. Meanwhile, bar soap may be a little messier, but it means less plastic in the landfills.
The difference between them is the soapmaking process. Natural bar soap is made from plant oils that react with lye. It’s non-toxic and kinder to the environment.
Meanwhile, liquid soap uses surfactants derived from either petroleum or coconut oil. Sadly, the process of deriving the surfactant from coconut oil involves several chemicals. If you prefer liquid soap, review what the manufacturer says about their process and ingredients.
Should you buy scented hand soap?
You might think that if your soap is scented with essential oils, it’ll be fine. Unfortunately, people have bad reactions to essential oils just like they do to artificial fragrances. At least in the case of essential oils, it’s allergies instead of endocrine disruption or cancer. Plus, you’re depending on the manufacturer to use pure oil that’s been properly diluted.
When in doubt, choose an unscented, fragrance-free hand soap to protect sensitive skin.
Best Natural Hand Soaps in 2024
Makes 3 Organics Shea Butter Soap Pack – 100% Handcrafted Organic
It doesn’t get much better than this organic hand soap. You can also get a liquid Castile organic hand wash from the same brand.
It’s hard to know where to start when listing the benefits of this soap. For example, it features USDA-certified organic ingredients. It only takes a moment to read the label as there are only seven components, and one of them doesn’t even exist after the saponification process is complete. (That’s sodium hydroxide, the lye used to make soap).
Let’s look at those ingredients for a moment. They include safflower, coconut, and palm fruit oils, shea butter, water, and rosemary. Those of us who are sensitive to the extinction crisis facing orangutans might cringe because of the palm oil. But on the bright side, it comes from sustainable sources that are part of the RTSPO. It’s not a perfect solution, but it helps.
Moreover, the soap is mild and moisturizing for the skin. It’s full of antioxidants that absorb into the skin to boost its health. Happily, it’s also EWG-Verified with a green score for safety as it contains no harmful synthetics.
Reviewers say they love how it leaves their skin feeling soft and clean.
- Certified organic product with a green score for safety from EWG
- Handmade in small batches in California
- Uses only RTSPO palm oil from sustainable sources
- Leaves the skin soft and clean, moisturizes, and provides antioxidants
Dr. Bronners – Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
What is the best natural liquid hand soap? Although we are diehard fans of Dr. Bronners soap bars because they last so long, we decided to review the liquid Castile soap instead. Specifically, we chose the unscented version for babies, but you needn’t limit yourself to fragrance-free hand wash. They also make eucalyptus, rose, tea tree oil, citrus, almond, peppermint, and lavender liquid soap.
Although it’s not tear-free, the baby soap truly can be used on infants because of the mild formula. Plus, there’s no palm oil. Instead, this brand prefers to saponify coconut, olive, hemp, and jojoba oils. All of these are organic.
Actually, 90% of the formula is organic and 70% of it comes from certified fair trade sources. Now you’re wondering what’s not organic about it, and that’s a good question. We checked the label and besides the plant oils, there are three other ingredients: water, citric acid, and vitamin E.
Still, there’s something you should know about Castile soap. It can be a bit drying when used full strength because it’s about three times more powerful than regular liquid soap. But it’s just as effective when diluted, so don’t hesitate to make that expensive little bottle last longer. It only takes two squirts in two gallons of water. Besides handwashing, this soap is good for dishwashing, bathing, cleaning dishes, mopping the floor, and bathing your pet.
Although it doesn’t come in a pump top bottle, the plastic is 100% post-consumer recycled.
- 90% organic with 70% certified Fair Trade ingredients
- Fragrance-free and mild enough for babies
- Can be used for handwashing, bathing, cleaning the house, and shampooing pets
- No pump top, has to be poured out or transferred into another bottle (but with a high dilution ratio, the small bottle will last a long time)
Seventh Generation Hand Soap, Free & Clean Unscented
Do you know the answer to this: How does handwashing with natural soap kill germs? Without antibacterial ingredients, is hand soap good enough? Thankfully, yes, because it physically removes microbes from the skin (2).
However, you’ll need to lather up and scrub for at least twenty seconds to make sure you get the job done right. That’s the reason why you need a moisturizing hand soap because it spends a lot of time on your skin.
This one is a good choice because it doesn’t have irritants like artificial fragrances, phthalates, or dyes. It’s certified by the USDA to be 97% bio-based. But what does that even mean?
Check the label and you’ll see an explanation for each ingredient. The surfactants are sodium coco sulfate and decyl glucoside which are derived from coconuts. Plus, there is aloe juice, glycerin, and other skin conditioners made from plants, too. It’s mild enough for children and safe for pets as well.
Should you purchase a scented version of this hand soap, the fragrance comes from essential oils and botanicals. Each one is in recyclable packaging made from recycled materials, too.
Users say that the liquid soap isn’t too liquidy or too creamy, it’s just right, and makes a fair amount of lather. It rinses clean and leaves them soft.
- No artificial fragrances, colors, or phthalates
- 97% bio-based formula with plant-based ingredients
- Decent amount of lather, rinses clean, and leaves the skin comfortable
- Bottled in recycled and recyclable plastic with a pump top
- Naturally-derived formula, but not organic like some options
Kiss My Face Moisture Liquid Hand Soap, Fragrance-Free
Here’s another EWG-verified liquid hand soap with a green score for safety. It contains no artificial fragrance, phthalates, gluten, parabens, or animal ingredients. (Yes, it’s cruelty-free). Instead, it’s rich with skin-friendly botanicals like chamomile, calendula, and yarrow.
The surfactants are coconut-derived and mild, plus there are moisturizers like olive oil, aloe, and glycerin. The formula is designed to hydrate the skin and prevent chapping even if you forget the lotion.
Users say the soap isn’t drying at all, plus the pump bottle is convenient. Also, the bottle is BPA-free and made from 25% recycled plastic. It’s also recyclable PETE.
- Coconut-derived cleansers and plant-based ingredients with skin-soothing botanicals
- Won’t dry out the skin even if you forget the lotion
- Cruelty-free, vegan, and has a green score for safety on the EWG Skin Deep Database
- Pump top bottle is partially recycled plastic and BPA-free; can be recycled
- No mention of organic ingredients
Meliora Cleaning Products Vegan, Palm-Free, Fragrance-Free Bath and Body Soap Bar
What’s the best hand soap for the environment? This natural hand soap bar is a big-time winner. Use it for bathing, shaving, or simply washing your hands. It’s 100% vegetable soap with coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, glycerin, and water. That’s right, there’s no palm oil.
Not only that, but it’s MADE SAFE-certified and has a safe rating from the EWG. You can use it with septic systems and it’s perfect for pets and children.
Oh wait, the company itself is certified cruelty-free and it’s a B-Corp, too. It’s based in Chicago where it pays a living wage to employees. They package this deliciously creamy soap biodegradable paperboard that can also be recycled.
The soap is available in unscented or scented versions made with essential oils. Be sure to store it in a well-drained soap dish to help it last as long as possible.
- Completely natural 100% vegetable soap safe for children and pets
- Moisturizing and non-drying
- Certified MADE SAFE and has a green score from the EWG
- Made by a B-Corp company in Chicago that’s cruelty-free
- Available in scented (with essential oils) or unscented versions
- Bars are packaged in biodegradable and recyclable paperboard
- Gets soft if left standing in a soggy soap dish
Quit sacrificing your skin to clean your hands. Switch to one of the best natural hand soaps and you’ll feel the difference right away. These moisturizing, safe formulas cleanse without drying, leaving the skin soft and comfortable.
We hope our reviews helped you discover your new favorite hand soap today. If so, please tell us about your experience with it in the comments below.
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3088928/ Mukhopadhyay, Partha. “Cleansers and their role in various dermatological disorders.” Indian journal of dermatology vol. 56,1 (2011): 2-6. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.77542
2. https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/faqs.html#:~:text=A%20good%20lather%20forms%20pockets, and%20chemicals%20from%20your%20skin Frequent Questions About Hand Hygiene, accessed August 26, 2021