clock menu more-arrow no yes

The 9 Best Hand Soaps To Fight Germs (2021)

No matter what kind of hand soap you prefer, this review evaluates the benefits and effectiveness of different types of soaps to help you fight off germs. The products included in this article are available at various home improvement stores, local home centers, and online retailers like Amazon.

Washing Hands with Soap iStock

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread across the globe, hand washing has become an essential part of combatting the highly infectious disease. To effectively get rid of the germs associated with the virus, the CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

Washing your hands is one of the best ways of protecting and preparing your home for coronavirus, prompting the question — what goes into an effective hand soap?

The main ingredients of soap are base oils, lye, and water. However, for companies that wish to better preserve their hand soap and add fragrance, additional ingredients are necessary.

Some soaps advertise that they are paraben-free. This means that their products don’t contain the group of chemicals known as parabens that act as artificial preservatives. Many soap brands removed these parabens from their ingredient list due to studies that showed the chemicals could harm fertility, increase the risk of cancer, affect birth outcomes, and irritate the skin. Many companies utilize essential oils or herbs as a natural preservative and an alternative to parabens.

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used as dissolving agents in soaps. Many brands don’t incorporate these chemicals into their products due to the concern over their potential impact on the reproductive system, though more research is needed.

Due to evidence that suggests it irritates the skin, many hand soaps don’t use artificial sulfates such as sodium lauryl sulfate. Many other brands go so far as to incorporate as little artificial ingredients as possible, including fragrances whose ingredients could be toxic to the body. Instead, some hand soaps utilize essential oils as a natural alternative to synthetic fragrances.

Many hand soaps are labeled “antibacterial soap.” According to the FDA, there is no evidence to suggest that antibacterial soaps are more effective than plain hand soap. There are even health concerns when using antibacterials due to certain chemicals they contain, such as triclosan. Plain soap and water are just as effective due to the soap’s surfactants, which remove microbes and dirt from the hand.

To help ensure that you know exactly what you are washing your hands with, the reviews team at This Old House evaluated the soaps available to you on Amazon.

From foaming to all-natural, the reviews team identified the nine best hand soaps that meet a variety of needs while keeping hands clean and preventing the spread of dirt, bacteria and other harmful germs.

Disclaimer:

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Amazon’s unpredictable stock of hand soaps and other sanitary products during this time. Many consumers are flocking to Amazon for these supplies and understandably, Amazon is struggling to keep up with demand. Therefore, it is possible that the shipping of the hand soaps reviewed is delayed or the products are out of stock.

Best Overall Hand Soap - Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap

Mrs Meyers Hand Soap

When picking the best overall hand soap, the most important factors we looked at were price, effectiveness, safety, and environmental friendliness. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap meets this set of criteria. The brand prides itself on carefully selected ingredients that work to leave your hands feeling clean and smelling good. This liquid soap is effective and easy to apply. Though this review highlights the rhubarb scent, this product is also available in scents such as rainwater, basil, radish, and more.

Pros

  • Thoughtfully selected ingredients, with no use of parabens, phthalates, or artificial colors
  • Natural, sweet-smelling scent of rhubarb gently leaves the skin smelling fresh
  • Cruelty-free hand soap, meaning this product is not tested on animals
  • Incorporates essential oils, aloe vera, and olive oil to hydrate your skin and prevent cracking and irritation

Cons

  • Incorporates natural ingredients, but is not an all natural product, meaning it still uses fragrances that could exacerbate allergies and irritate the skin
  • Soap’s pump mechanism can be fussy and occasionally malfunction, according to customer feedback

Key Features:

  • Comes as a pack of three, 12.5 fluid ounce bottles
  • No parabens, phthalates, or artificial colors
  • Ingredients include: water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Methyl 2-Sulfolaurate, Glycerin, Cedrus Atlantica (Cedarwood) Bark Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Oil, Fragrance, Disodium 2-Sulfolaurate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate

Bottom Line:

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap is the most complete hand soap available on Amazon. The brand and its soaps balance natural ingredients with effective results, providing the consumer with a quality product. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Hand Soap is the most complete hand soap available on Amazon. The brand and its soaps balance natural ingredients with effective results, giving the consumer a quality product. Mrs. Meyer’s is a trusted brand whose products provide some peace of mind through clean hands during a time when people are rightfully concerned with properly cleaning themselves and their homes.

Best Foaming Hand Soap - J.R. Watkins Foaming Hand Soap

JR Watkins Hand Soap

Soap should not only wash away dirt and bacteria, but should also feel good while doing it. This J.R. Watkins hand soap provides a soft, foaming wash to help cleanse every part of the hand. Made with plant-based ingredients and recyclable materials, this product is clean on the hands and the environment.

Pros

  • Gentle, yet effective clean that removes dirt, bacteria and pungent odors
  • Over 10 scents to choose from, including agave water, coconut, and lemon
  • Unique labeling puts a stylish and modern twist on hand soap
  • One customer noted the soap’s ability to eliminate the smell caused by handling raw and uncooked food

Cons

  • Users found pump mechanism has a tendency to malfunction
  • Contains natural ingredients but isn’t all natural, containing fragrances that have the ability to irritate the skin
  • Some customer reviews comment that the soap runs out quickly

Key Features

  • Pack of six, 9 fluid ounce bottles
  • Ingredients include: Water/aqua/eau, sodium coco-sulfate, glycerin, decyl glucoside, sodium cocoyl glycinate, fragrance/parfum, gluconolactone, sodium benzoate, phenoxyethanol, citric acid, sodium hydroxide
  • Made in the United States
  • Cruelty-free
  • Recyclable

Bottom Line

J.R. Watkins proves that a foaming soap can be environmentally friendly and effective. If you are looking for a soap with a strong scent that can eliminate even the strongest of smells, this soap is for you. With nice packaging and even better results, the J.R. Watkins Foaming Hand Soap is a solid choice when it comes to fighting germs. One of the best parts? When your soap runs out, remember to recycle your old bottle before pulling out a new one.

Best Natural Hand Soap - Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap

Puracy Hand Soap

This natural hand soap offers a quality, eco-friendly formula that doesn’t sacrifice effectiveness for the sake of its ingredients. The 99.95% natural formula is safe to use on everyone, young and old, to eliminate germs and invigorate the skin with its moisturizing emollients. Ingredients that are not natural such as benzisothiazolinone, a preservative listed on the EPA safer chemical list, are only added when safe and necessary. The honey-like consistency of the liquid quickly creates germ-killing suds that naturally return to the environment as part of this 100% biodegradable formula.

Pros

  • Fortified with vitamin E, sea salt, and aloe vera to nourish dry skin
  • Lavender and vanilla essential oils add a gentle scent to this mild soap
  • No sulfates, triclosan, parabens, animal by-products, dyes, or caustics

Cons

  • Natural ingredients cause the product to display individual characteristics, so color and characteristics may differ from bottle to bottle
  • Does not offer a fragrance-free option at this time

Key Features

  • 12 fluid ounce bottle
  • Ingredients include: Purified Water, Lauryl Glucoside (Coconut Oil-Based Cleanser), Sodium Lauroamphoacetate (Coconut-Based Cleanser), Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate (Coconut-Based Cleanser), Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine (Coconut-Based Cleanser), Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate (Coconut-Based Cleanser), Decyl Glucoside (Vegetable-Based Cleanser), Coco-Glucoside (Coconut-Based Cleanser), Glyceryl Oleate (Plant-Based Skin Softener), Vegetable Glycerin (Plant-Based Skin Softener), Propanediol (Plant-Based Preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (Biodegradable Preservative), Caprylyl Glycol (Coconut-Based Preservative), Caprylhydroxamic Acid (Coconut-Based Preservative), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera), Lavender Essential Oil, Citric Acid (Citrus-Based Preservative), Sodium Citrate (Plant-Based Water Softener), Sodium Benzoate (Food-Grade Preservative), Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, Vanillin (Natural)
  • Cruelty-free, gluten-free and vegan

Bottom Line

This is the best natural soap we found on Amazon. Puracy offers soap at a fair price to consumers and with ingredients that are as close to all-natural as a hand soap can get. They are also committed to making a quality, eco-friendly product. The company is willing to address concerns over its product’s ingredients and effectiveness as well. As of April 6, this product has over 150 customer questions on its Amazon page, and the majority are answered by the company’s co-founder, Sean Busch. If you are looking for a natural hand soap from a company that cares about producing quality products, look no further than the Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap.

Best Moisturizing Hand Soap - Better Life Hand and Body Soap

Better Life Hand Soap

The best moisturizers are those that are natural, healthy and safe for the whole body. Better Life understands this with their moisturizing soap. The product is enriched with a variety of soothing ingredients including aloe vera and vitamin E, simultaneously cleaning and hydrating the skin for clean and soothing results. The company believes that a quality soap should not just be safe for the hands, but for the whole body. And they advertise it as such, marketing the soap as a soothing cleanse for the hands, body, face, and even hair.

Pros

  • Made without sulfates, dyes, parabens, and synthetic fragrances
  • Unscented option for those sensitive to fragrances
  • Enriched with natural moisturizers like vitamin E, green tea, and cucumber

Cons

  • Users experienced difficulty pumping liquid out of bottle
  • Packaging was messy and product was occasionally broken for some Amazon customers

Key Features

  • 12 fluid ounce bottle, available in single pack, pack of two, or gallon refill
  • Ingredients include: Purified Water, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Cetyl betaine, Decyl glucoside, Cocopolyglucose citrate, Lauroyl lactylate, Glycerin (vegetable), Potassium cocoate, Tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), Cucumis sativus fruit extract, Camellia sinensis extract, Citrus limon extract, Citrus aurantium dulcis extract, Salvia sclarea extract, PEG-150 stearate, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin
  • Biodegradable and cruelty-free
  • Made in the United States

Bottom Line

Better Life offers a moisturizing soap that you can be confident in using. The brand is transparent about what goes into their soaps, listing in detail the ingredients they use and their purpose on the brand’s site. Whether for use on your hands, face, body or hair, this soap is designed to soothe your skin while effectively eliminating bacteria and other germs. If moisturizing is one of your main priorities, this soap pairs well with the company’s hair and skin body lotion.

Best Affordable Hand Soap - Dial Pure Micellar Foaming Hand Soap

Dial Hand Soap

Dial, a brand known for its cleaning solutions, incorporates antibacterial ingredients into many of its hand soaps. Luckily, they offer an alternative. The Dial Pure Micellar Foaming Hand Soap is a quality soap at a low price that leaves out the harmful ingredients associated with antibacterials. This soap’s formula is plain and free of unnecessary ingredients, relying instead on the soap’s ability to form micelles to trap dirt and wash it away.

Pros

  • No parabens, phthalates, or sulfates
  • Affordable price, at $2.99 per bottle
  • Made with 50% recycled plastics
  • Safe for all ages and skin types

Cons

  • Amazon customer reviews suggest the foam runs out quicker than traditional liquid soap
  • Reviewers also note the soap’s smell is mild and not very distinct

Key Features

  • Single, 7.5 fluid ounce bottle
  • Ingredients include: Aqua (Water, Eau), Lauramidopropylamine Oxide, Cetrimonium Chloride, Glycerin, Lauramine Oxide, Citric Acid, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Trideceth-9 · Sodium Benzoate, Myristamidopropylamine Oxide, Parfum (Fragrance), Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, PEG-5 Isononanoate, Sodium Chloride, Dimethyl Lauramine, Tetrasodium EDTA, Dimethyl Myristamine, CI 42090 (Blue 1), CI 17200 (Red 33), Linalool

Bottom Line

This is a great soap for you if you’re looking for the basics. Dial offers an inexpensive, effective soap that can keep you and your family safe and clean. For $2.99, there aren’t many quality soaps on Amazon as affordable as this one.

Alternatives

Due to the possibility that some of the products reviewed are delayed or out of stock, This Old House wanted to provide some alternatives to the hand soaps reviewed above. These are some runner-ups for best hand soaps in several categories, just in case your choice was out of stock.

Runner-up: Best Overall Hand Soap - Molton Brown Orange and Bergamot Hand Wash

A good hand soap does a little bit of everything, and this Molton Brown Orange and Bergamot Hand Wash is no different. This liquid hand wash incorporates Sicilian orange oil that works as a natural anti-inflammatory to help calm the skin as it washes. While working hard, this soap also delivers a refreshing scent. Bergamot, the citrus fruit that gives Earl Gray tea its distinctive smell, complements the orange oil to deliver a soothing, unique smell. To top it off, this soap is paraben-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.

Buy On Amazon

Runner-up: Best Foaming Hand Soap - Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Stress Relief Gentle Foaming Hand Soap

While the stress-relieving benefits of this soap are hard to prove, Bath and Body Works has proven that they know how to make a great smelling foam soap. The foam transforms into a thick, rich lather that delivers aloe vera and vitamin E to nourish the skin. Meanwhile, the Eucalyptus and Spearmint scent has reviewers raving.

Buy On Amazon

Runner-up: Best All Natural Hand Soap - Method Gel Hand Wash

This gel hand soap from Method is Earth friendly from the inside out, the reason we chose this product as runner-up for the best all natural hand soap. On the inside, its ingredients are paraben-free and biodegradable, so you can feel good about what’s going on your hands and into the environment. On the outside, the bottle is made from 100% recycled material. You can keep this sustainable model going as well by recycling the product after it’s empty. By choosing to be environmentally friendly in both its ingredients and packaging, Method offers a soap that is gentle on the hands and the world.

Buy On Amazon

Runner-up: Best Moisturizing Hand Soap - EO Hand Soap: French Lavender

EO, a brand that focuses their products on delivering the benefits of essential oils, does just that with this essential oil-infused soap. Yes, this soap’s french lavender scent smells amazing, but it’s the moisturizing benefits on the inside that make this product a top pick. The soap utilizes gentle amino acid cleansers that work to remove impurities from your skin. Meanwhile, botanical extracts like aloe vera, calendula, and white tea moisturize your hands, soothing and softening your skin after every wash.

Buy On Amazon

Review Standards

This Old House is dedicated to providing informative, thorough and transparent reviews. We conduct extensive research on products so that you, the reader, can save time and money when purchasing products for your home and family. When choosing the best hand soaps offered by Amazon, our team considered a variety of factors including:

  • Price
  • Ingredients
  • Customer reviews
  • Features
  • Availability

Per above, many hand soaps include products labeled “antibacterial soap,” and include ingredients such as triclosan that can be harmful to the body. According to the FDA, there is no evidence to suggest that antibacterial soaps are more effective than plain hand soap. At This Old House, we want to promote products that adhere to the same principles of transparency we do. Therefore, we don’t recommend any hand soaps labeled antibacterial due to the false sense of security they give consumers.

FAQs

Why do you need to wash your hands?

According to the CDC, people frequently touch their eyes, nose and mouth—prime locations for germs to enter the body. By washing your hands, you can eliminate the bacteria and germs that settle onto your hands, preventing their spread into your body and onto other surfaces. Soap is the perfect tool for getting rid of the germs, as it surrounds microorganisms and pries them off your skin.

When should you wash your hands?

Although you shouldn’t limit hand washing to after a particular event, the CDC outlines a few instances where washing your hands is absolutely necessary:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

What steps should you take to properly wash your hands?

Again, let’s listen to the experts at the CDC. Here are some of their recommended steps for properly washing your hands.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water. The water can be warm or cold, it doesn’t matter.
  2. Apply soap and lather it into your hands by rubbing them together. Ensure that you are getting between your fingers, on the back of your hands, and your fingertips and fingernails.
  3. Continue lathering and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t want to count, sing the ABC’s, the “Happy Birthday” song twice, or the chorus to Smash Mouth’s “All Star.”
  4. Rinse your hands under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands with a clean towel or let them air dry.