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The best hand soaps rid your hands of germs and bacteria, moisturize, and smell fantastic. We considered dozens of hand soaps for this roundup, evaluating each on effectiveness of formula, texture, price point, and scent.
Our best overall pick is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap, which has a clean scent and nourishing formula that doesn’t contain any chemicals that might harm your skin.
Ahead, find the best hand soaps to add to your kitchen or bathroom.
Best Overall : Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap
Free from harsh chemicals
Reports of defective pumps
A little pricey
Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap is our top pick because it's safe to use, great for households with kids or the elderly, and gentle enough to use on sensitive skin. Even if those things don't apply to you, you'll still love Mrs. Meyer's hand soap.
This gentle soap earns rave reviews for its clean scent and nourishing formula. It's made from 98% naturally derived ingredients and doesn't contain any chemicals that might harm the skin. With hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and olive oil, the non-drying formula will keep hands soft. Despite being gentle on skin, this soap is tough on dirt, grease, and grime. The formula is biodegradable, which means it's safe to use in homes with greywater or septic systems.
This hand soap comes in a nice selection of scents—all of which are light and refreshing without being overpowering. You can choose from lemon verbena, honeysuckle, or lavender. To save money and reduce waste, consider purchasing a 33-ounce refill jug of your favorite fragrance. It's a little bit on the pricier side when compared to other hand soaps on the market, but we think it's worth the investment for something you use every day.
Best Budget: Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap
Excellent selection of scents
Scent is too strong for some people
Pump might dispense too much soap
If you’re looking for a soap that’s as effective as it is affordable, look no further than Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap. You can purchase an individual bottle for around $1, or buy a six-pack at a deep discount. Even though this soap is half the price of some of our top picks, it’s surprisingly high-quality. The moisturizing formula leaves your hands feeling soft and hydrated. It comes in a wide variety of fruity, floral, and herbal scents.
SoftSoap's wide pump is easy to press and it dispenses a generous amount of soap. However, children might find themselves with more soap than they need. Here’s a trick to reduce the amount that’s dispensed: try placing a rubber band around the neck of the pump.
Best Splurge: Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash
Gently exfoliates skin
Not great for sensitive skin
This luxurious hand soap from Aesop has some standout features that make it worthy of its steep price tag. A rich blend of botanical extracts come together to create a refreshing, slightly woodsy scent.
The soap contains finely milled pumice that gently exfoliates skin as you scrub. It also contains hydrating ingredients and leaves hands feeling soft and smooth. Between the aroma and exfoliating grains, washing your hands becomes a spa-like experience. The 16.9-ounce jar features a pump dispenser and a classic design that's reminiscent of an antique apothecary bottle. Since it contains an exfoliant, some customers have reported that it's not great for those with sensitive skin.
Best Liquid: Everyone Hand Soap
Ingredient list with full transparency
Great for sensitive skin
Reports of faulty pumps
Not as hydrating as other options
This cruelty-free hand soap is derived from plant-based ingredients, and doesn’t contain any synthetic fragrances or harmful chemicals. Everyone Hand Soap’s parent company, EO Products, is very transparent with their ingredients and even provides a glossary on their website. The hand soap comes in a bottle made of 100% recycled plastic. The gentle formula is hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested, making it a great choice for those with sensitive skin.
Everyone Hand Soap is available in several subtle scents. You can choose from unique blends like lavender and coconut or lemon and mandarin. It’s also available in multiple sizes—a 12.75-ounce pack of three or six, as well as a gallon refill jug.
Best Bar Soap: Pre de Provence Artisanal French Soap Bar
Excellent selection of scents
Pricier than other bar soaps
Some reviewers questioned authenticity
If you prefer a bar soap to a liquid formula, Pre de Provence’s Artisanal French Soap Bar earns rave reviews for its silky texture and luxurious scent. Made of natural ingredients and enriched with shea butter, it creates a rich lather that moisturizes and softens skin. This bar soap can be used for hands or all-over body washing.
Handcrafted by artisans in France and free from impurities, it's no surprise that Pre de Provence is one of our pricier picks. Rest assured you will get your money’s worth. Thanks to the meticulous production process, each bar lasts a long time—right down to the last sliver. To top it all off, this bar soap comes in an impressive selection of scents—nearly 36—from green tea to juicy pomegranate, sweet lemon, and verbena. While most reviewers were thrilled with this product, some questioned the authenticity, so be sure to always buy from an authorized retailer.
Best Foaming: Method Foaming Hand Soap
Safe to use on sensitive skin
Reports of defective pumps
Less hydrating than other options
Method’s Foaming Hand Soap comes out as a nice, thick lather with just one pump. This naturally derived formula—free from parabens and phthalates—is safe to use on sensitive skin. It is also biodegradable, making it safe for greywater and septic systems, and comes in a bottle made from 100% recycled plastic.
In addition to being environmentally friendly, this hand soap leaves hands feeling clean and soft. It’s available in a host of light and refreshing scents including sea minerals, coconut water, and pink grapefruit. In addition to their standard 12-ounce dispenser, Method offers refill pouches that use 85% less plastic when compared to three new bottles.
Best Eco-Friendly: Cleancult 32 Fl Oz Liquid Hand Soap Refill, Lavender
Available in multiple scents
Paper container is prone to leaks
Must purchase dispenser separately
To create the ultimate eco-friendly refill packaging, Cleancult came up with a simple yet innovative design: the old-fashioned milk carton. All of their hand soap refills are packaged in reduced-waste containers, which are recyclable in most areas and fitted with a plant-based cap to prevent leaks. The downside to a paper-based container is that they are more prone to damage and leaks, especially in transit, but our at-home tester hasn't had any issues with her refill packaging.
Free of harsh cleaning agents and blended with Vitamin E, aloe, and essential oils, the moisture-rich formula will noticeably soften skin. Cleancult Liquid Hand Soap comes in four soothing scents, and the blue sage and lavender are formulated specifically for oily/sensitive skin. A refillable glass soap dispenser can be purchased separately or as part of a bundle.
Best Scented: Byredo Suede Hand Wash
This luxurious hand soap from Byredo comes in three multi-layered scents that all smell amazing. Suede is a woody blend with hints of pear and bergamot, while Rose and Tulipmania are more floral. Not only will your hands smell great, but they'll feel super soft, thanks to the hydrating formula. This foaming gel creates a smooth lather, allowing your skin to absorb all of the moisturizing ingredients.
At $68 for a 15.2-ounce bottle, Byredo is much more expensive than other hand soaps (even our top pick for Best Splurge). If it is too costly to incorporate into your daily routine, you could always reserve it for special occasions. The minimalist, stylish dispenser would make a nice addition to a guest bathroom vanity.
Best for Eczema: Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser
Great for sensitive skin
Free from harsh chemicals
Safe for children
Pump can be difficult to use
Plain bottle design
Vanicream's Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser is gentle enough for eczema and other sensitive skin conditions. It’s free from dyes, parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates, and other chemical irritants commonly found in ordinary hand soaps. Recommended by dermatologists, this hand soap is safe for the entire family to use—even younger children. Some customers note the pump is tricky to use.
This versatile soap isn’t limited to eczema-prone hands, it can be used all over the body. Since it is fragrance-free, it’s also a good choice for anyone who suffers from migraines or allergies. Free & Clear comes in an 8-ounce pump dispenser. To save money and minimize waste, consider purchasing a 32-ounce refill bottle for future use.
Best for Dry Skin: Soapbox Deep Moisture Liquid Hand Soap
Highly moisturizing formula
Rich and creamy lather
Attractive amber bottle
On the pricier side
If you're targeting cracked or dry hands, consider Soapbox’s Deep Moisture Liquid Hand Soap. Made with hydrating ingredients like fatty acids, shea butter, and aloe vera, this soap is specially formulated for dry skin. Although this soap is pricier than some other options, the results are well worth the investment. The rich, creamy lather goes a long way and leaves hands feeling incredibly soft.
Soapbox offers a host of other scents and each formula has distinct benefits. The Meyer Lemon & Tea Leaves formula is a natural astringent, while Lavender & Marshmallow Root has a calming, therapeutic effect. For those looking to improve the elasticity of their skin, the Citrus & Peach Rose formula is a great choice.
Our best overall pick is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap, which features a clean-smelling scent and moisturizing formula. It’s free of harsh chemicals and full of soothing ingredients like olive oil, aloe vera, and glycerin. If you're looking for a more affordable option, consider SoftSoap, which has a creamy, moisturizing, dermatologist-tested formula and comes in almost three dozen scents.
What to Look for in a Hand Soap
Even if you aren’t sensitive to strong fragrances, you’re better off choosing a neutral scent that’ll be inoffensive to everyone in the house. If you suffer from migraines or allergies, choosing a soap that's fragrance-free might be especially important. Some soaps are lightly scented with essential oils, such as lavender or mandarin peel oil, which can be a good alternative to chemical-based or artificial fragrances.
Although we still don’t have enough information about many of the synthetic ingredients found in our beauty and home products, there are a few that likely do more harm than good. A good rule of thumb is to look for phrases that claim that the soap is free of triclosan, parabens, or phthalates. Generally, plant-based products with transparent ingredient lists are the safest options.
Most soaps work well in terms of cleansing your hands of dirt and harmful germs. However, some soaps with harsher formulas can actually break down your skin’s moisture barrier, which is why frequent hand-washing can result in dry skin. For that reason, we define effective soap as being gentle enough that it won’t break the moisture barrier.
If you tend to get dry skin, look for formulas with hydrating ingredients like cocoa butter, shea butter, and aloe vera.
Are all hand soaps antibacterial?
Not all soap is antibacterial, but studies have found that antibacterial soap isn't any better at preventing infections than regular soap. “All hand soaps, when used properly, have the ability to reduce and remove bacteria from the hands, regardless if they are marketed as antibacterial," says Carla Burns, senior director of cosmetic science at the Environmental Working Group. In most cases, the CDC recommends washing your hands with warm water and regular soap for 20 seconds will kill just as many germs as doing the same with an antibacterial soap.
How do you make a foaming hand soap?
Making foaming hand soap is surprisingly easy, and chances are you have the ingredients to make it at home already. All you need is a foaming soap dispenser, which has a thinner straw than a traditional dispenser, water, and liquid soap. Use about a 4:1 ratio of water to soap, mixing the two in the soap container. Replace the pump, and you're all done.
Can you use hand soap to wash dishes?
You can, but it won't be as tough as dish soap on grime and grease. Hand soap will help to break down and remove particles of food, but greasy residue will be harder to remove. Hand soap is great to use in a pinch, but dish soap will make your whole washing routine a little less intense.
Does hand soap expire?
Most hand soap does have an expiration date, but as long as the solution still gets sudsy when you wash your hands, it should still be effective. “Most water-based products, including liquid hand soaps, require the use of a preservative to prevent microbial growth within the product,” says Burns, “So some hand soaps do expire.” Most store-bought soaps will have an expiration date of about two or three years after purchase. Homemade soaps with essential oils can expire more quickly, as certain oils may become rancid or cause mold. Burns adds that if a product has separated, changed in consistency, or smells sour, it's likely expired and should not be used.
Can you use hand soap as body wash?
In theory, yes, but it's not recommended. Hand soaps tend to be made with harsher ingredients than body wash, so they have the potential of drying and stripping your skin.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Sage McHugh, a home and lifestyle writer for The Spruce. For this roundup, Sage considered dozens of hand soaps, carefully evaluating each product’s effectiveness, texture, price point, and scent. To find the best hand soaps on the market, she consulted hundreds of customer reviews, as well as write-ups from third-party websites. For expert insight on hand soaps, she spoke to Carla Burns, senior director of cosmetic science at the Environmental Working Group.