Which brands of liquid hand soaps and bar soaps are a non-toxic and healthy way to scrub your hands? Cleansing from germs with a liquid hand soap that lathers with natural ingredients is important. Mamavation looked at about 130 different hand soaps to determine the safest products based on ingredients. You’ve trusted Mamavation to bring you topics like the best non-toxic dishwashing soap, the best non-toxic dishwashing detergents, safest disinfectants, & best organic mattresses, now join us for the best non-toxic hand soaps.
Disclosure: This post was medically reviewed by Sondra Strand, RN, BSN, PHN. This post also contains affiliate links.
Washing Your Hands Lessens Your Exposure to Hormone Disrupting Chemicals & Several Illnesses
It’s important to wash your hands. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), because we can prevent several illnesses and diseases. In fact, hand washing is one of the most important tools you have in your modern toolbox to prevent disease.
Washing hands is also an effective way to lessen exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals. Hormone disrupting chemicals like fire retardants, phthalates, and PFAS are attracted to household dust. Dust with particles of fire retardants, phthalates and other nasties settle on surfaces. Your hands come into contact with those dust particles as you do your daily routines. When hands are washed, that exposure is lessened.
Here are some examples of chemicals that disrupt hormones that are lessened with handwashing:
The other way to lessen this exposure is to dust weekly starting with the top of the room (like the fan) and doing the floors last. Wearing a mask while dusting is also recommended. We also recommend checking out our favorite HEPA & HEPA-Like Air Purifiers to keep dust at a minimum, especially in the family room where you have the most of your electrical equipment.
Actions That Spread Germs and Cause Disease
Washing your hands is a great tool in stopping the spread of disease, but germs can be spread in several ways. It’s important to be informed of how this happens around your home and in the community to protect yourself and your family.
- Touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Preparing or eating food and drink with unwashed hands
- Touching a contaminated surface or objects
- Blowing your nose and then
- Coughing into hands,
- Sneezing into hands,
- Touching someone else or another common object
This is how disease is spread, so be mindful especially around more vulnerable people in the population.
Best Time to Wash Your Hands with Non-Toxic Hand Soap
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are very particular times of the day when it’s the best time to wash your hands. We’ve pulled this list together for you of all the times we recommend you using non-toxic liquid hand soap, especially the kind we have at the bottom of this post.
So please wash your hands when you do these things:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after 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
Watch Out For These Problematic Ingredients in Hand Soap
We evaluated the ingredients of about 125 liquid hand soaps to determine what types of ingredients you should be on the lookout for when purchasing these products. We found lots of allergens, hormone-disrupting chemicals, and carcinogens and put together a list for you.
- Parabens — are preservatives that are used in a wide array of different personal care products in the United States, including hand soaps. They mimic the behavior of estrogen in the body and are associated with endocrine disruption, cancer, and developmental toxicity. They are also toxic to the environment. To avoid parabens, avoid hand soap containing ingredients ending in –paraben.
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)— These chemicals are surfactants and emulsifiers used to create foam. They are also linked to toxic effects like organ toxicity, and irritation to skin, eyes, & lungs. This product also has issues with contamination–ingredients derived from ethoxylated lauryl alcohol may be contaminated with toxic 1,4-dioxane & ethylene oxide, both carcinogens. Additional health effects are organ system toxicity and irritation of the skin, eyes, and lungs. The CDC links sodium lauryl sulfate with several negative health effects that can occur as a result of exposure.
- Cocamidopropyl betaine — This ingredient is a synthetic detergent and surfactant used to increase the foam. Health concerns linked to cocamidopropyl betaine include higher risk of allergic skin reactions, contact dermatitis, and environmental toxicity. It was named “Allergen of the Year” in 2004 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society. This chemical can show up under different names so to avoid it, look for a toxic chemical-free hand soap that doesn’t have these ingredients listed: CADG, Cocamidopropyl betaine, Cocamidopropyl dimethyl glycine, Cocoamphocarboxypropionate, Cocoamphodiproprionate, and Disodium cocoamphodipropionate.
- Undisclosed Fragrance — Fragrance smells great, but it’s not as innocent as it may seem because it’s linked to allergies, respiratory irritation, or even worse, they can hide hormone-disrupting chemicals like phthalates, which help the fragrance stay longer in the environment. The word “fragrance” or “perfume” on a bottle hides numerous ingredients under the guise of “trade secrets” and none of these secrets are good for the consumer. The chemicals inside fragrances can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream where they pose health risks including endocrine disruption, organ toxicity, allergies, asthma, neurotoxicity and cancer. Synthetic fragrance ingredients especially can be problematic.
- Methylisothiazolinone & Methylchloroisothiazolinone—these preservatives are used to inhibit bacteria inside hand soaps, but they are also a major allergen. A combination of Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinine (MCI/MI) is one of the most frequent causes of preservative contact allergy in personal care product. They are also problematic linked to skin irritation, lung and respiratory issues and neurotoxicity. This study found a brief exposure to this widely used industrial and household biocide, is highly toxic to cultured neurons. The Environmental Protection Agency has also ruled it is toxic to aquatic life. It’s also a skin irritant and many have allergic reactions to this chemical.
- PEGs (polyethylene glycols) — are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in personal care products as solvents, thickeners, softeners, & moisture carriers. PEGs may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both carcinogens. 1,4-dioxane can be removed from cosmetics during the manufacturing process by vacuum stripping, but it’s hard to ascertain which products are which. How often is 1,4-dioxane in raw materials of personal care products? This study says very often.
- Polysorbate 20 — This ingredient is treated with ethylene oxide (or is “ethoxylated”) so that it then becomes contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen. It has also been linked to skin allergies.
- Artificial colors — most artificial colors are derived from coal tar or petroleum. Several artificial colors, especially when used in combination, are associated with hyperactivity in children, however, very little published research exists on artificial colors being mixed, which is very common. We do know that artificial colors are linked to hypersensitivity, allergic reaction, increased dermal absorption in skin, genotoxicity, and brain, bladder, and testes tumor growth. The use of Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 account of 90 percent of all dyes used in commerce and can be contaminated with carcinogens.
- Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) — BAK is an antimicrobial agent, deodorant, surfactant, and preservative also known as alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. Other names used to hide BAK are Quaternary ammonium compounds, benzyl-C8-18-alkyldimethyl chlorides; CAS # 63449-41-2; alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride; alkyldimethyl(phenylmethyl); quaternary ammonium chloride; ammonium alkyldimethyl(phenylmethyl) chloride; and ammonium alkyldimethylbenzyl chloride. This chemical is linked with antibiotic susceptibility of methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus according to the CDC.
Mamavation’s Investigation of Non-Toxic Liquid Hand Soaps & Bar Soaps
Mamavation evaluated the formula ingredients of over 125 different liquid hand soaps–liquid hand soaps, powders, and bar soaps used for sink washing. To create categories we ranked them based on ingredients linked to hormone disruption, carcinogens, and environmental impact.
Brands may have parabens, harsh preservatives, undisclosed fragrances, surfactants, or harsh allergens. The Not Our Favorite products had between 2 or more problematic ingredients. The “better” products contain at least 1 ingredient that is problematic. And the “best” brands do not have any problematic ingredients that we are aware of.
Please note: We did not test any of these brands for contaminants like phthalates, bisphenols of PFAS “forever chemicals.” We are only evaluating based on ingredients that are available to the public on the best foaming hand soap.
Basic Tips on What to Look For When Eyeballing The Best Hand Soap Products
- Look for disclosure of fragrance, even if they are essential oils.
- Look for essential oil fragrances like lavender, thyme, peppermint, and lemon. These fragrances also naturally aid and help kill bacteria in a safe way.
- When you opt for natural oils and fats such as organic coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, and hemp oil, these ingredients are less likely to dry out your hands.
- Light preservatives like sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate or phenoxyethanol are preferable to harsh preservatives like methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazaolinone, or Benzalkonium chloride.
Not Our Favorite Liquid Hand Soaps & Bar Soaps
This category represents products that we do not recommend. We found 3 or more problematic ingredients that were listed above in this post.
- Aesop Reverance Aromatique Hand Wash Vetiver Petitgrain Bergamot
- Bath & Body Works Foaming Hand Soap Kitchen Lemon
- Better Life Hand & Body Soap Naturally Skin-Soothing Scent Free
- Better Life Hand & Body Soap Citrus Mint
- Caress Daily Silk Bar Soap
- Dial Gold Hydrating Hand Soap Liquid
- Dionis Goat Milk Hand Soap Lavender Blossom
- Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar
- Dove Caring Hand Wash Liquid
- Dove Foaming Hand Wash Lavender & Yogurt
- Equate Liquid Hand Soap Clear Original
- GreenerWays Antibacterial Soap Unscented
- Jergens Extra Moisturizing Hand Wash Cherry Almond
- Jergens Mild Soap Bar
- Love Beauty & Planet Argan Oil & Lavender Hand Wash
- Method Foaming Hand Wash Lemon Mint
- Method Hand Wash Free + Clear
- Quinn’s Eucalyptus Hand Wash
- Raw Sugar Moisture Loving Hand Wash Watermelon + Fresh Mint
- Raw Sugar Simply Hand Wash Sensitive Skin
- Sapadilla Hand Soap Rosemary & Peppermint
- SoftSoap Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap Fresh Citrus
- SoftSoap Oh Joy Juicy Grapefruit
- SoftSoap Gently Lavender Liquid Hand Soap
- Tone Cocoa Butter Original Bar Soap
- Trader Joe’s Foaming Apple Cider Hand Soap
Better Liquid Hand Soaps & Bar Soaps
This section contains ingredients of concern that we discussed above. Here you will find lots of nondisclosure of fragrances or other ingredients with 1 -3 ingredients of concern. Please note that some brands may have products in different sections: with some in the “best” category and some products in the “better” category.
- A La Maison de Provence Gentle Hand Wash Fresh Sea Salt
- A La Maison de Provence Liquid Soap Sweet Almond
- Blueland Foaming Hand Soap
- Caldrea Tangelo Palm Frond
- Clearly Natural Unscented Glycerin Bar Soap
- DoTerra On Guard Foaming Hand Soap
- Etee Lavender Lime Foaming Hand Soap
- Etee Lemongrass Liquid Hand Soap Concentrate
- Everspring Free & Clear Foaming Hand Soap
- Everspring Lavender & Bergamot Liquid Hand Soap
- Grove Hydrating Hand Soap Lavender & Thyme
- Grove Hand & Dish Bar Soap Ginger & Lime
- Hand in Hand Hand Soap Cactus Blossom
- Hello Foaming Hand Wash Tablets Lavender + Eucalyptus
- Hello Aloe + Sea Minerals Foaming Hand Wash
- Hippie Butter Hippie Soap
- J.R. Watkins Foaming Hand Soap Ocean Breeze
- J.R. Watkins Hand Soap Rosewater
- Jason Purifying Tea Tree Hand Soap
- Kirk’s Hand Soap Rosemary & Sage
- Kiss My Face Coconut Moisture Hand Soap
- Live Clean Hydrating Liquid Hand Soap
- Live Clean Coconut Milk Moisturizing Hand Soap
- Mrs. Meyers Rainwater
- Puracy Cucumber & Mint Natural Gel Hand Soap
- Raw Sugar Foaming Hand Wash Rosewater & Kombucha
- Safe Haven Farms Hand Crafted Bar Soap
- Seventh Generation Zero Waste Lathering Cleanser Powder Hand Soap Fragrance-Free
- Simple Truth Pure Castile Soap (Coconut Vanilla)
- Shea Moisture Coconut Oil Shea Butter Bar Soap
- Thrive Market Foaming Hand Wash Coconut Vanilla
- Tom’s Prebiotic Hand Soap Orange
- Tom’s Creamy Coconut Bar Soap
- Trader Joe’s Lemon Kitchen Hand Soap
Best Non-Toxic Liquid Hand Soaps & Bar Soaps
These products do not contain problematic ingredients according to what has been disclosed. Please note we did not send any of these products to the lab to test for contaminants. Purchases of these types of products support better non-toxic and transparent brands.
- A La Maison de Provence Liquid Soap Unscented
- Alaffia Everyday Shea Foaming Hand Soap Unscented
- Alaffia Everyday Shea Liquid Hand Soap Lemon Verbena
- Aleavia Citrus & Sea Kelp Microbiome Friendly Hand Wash
- Aunt Fannie’s Hand Soap
- Attitude Natural Unscented Liquid Hand Soap
- Attitude Super Leaves Hand Soap Orange Leaves
- Attitude Hand Soap Sensitive Skin
- Attitude Little Leaves Foaming Hand Soap Watermelon & Coco
- Beautycounter Softening Hand Wash in Neroli
- Carina Organics Unscented Hand Soap
- Carina Organics Grapefruit Hand Soap
- Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Milk & Honey Baby Soap Bar
- Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve Lemon Lavender Soap
- Clearly Natural Unscented Liquid Hand Soap
- Cura.Te Foaming Hand Wash with Lemongrass
- Dr. Bronner’s Rose Castile Soap
- EO Liquid Hand Soap French Lavender
- Ethique Handwash Concentrate Bar Sorbet
- Everyone Hand Soap Lavender + Coconut
- Evolved By Nature This is Hand Soap Unscented
- Evolve By Nature This is Hand Soap Rosemary Lemon
- Green Beaver All-Purpose Castille Soap Fragrance-Free
- Green Beaver Foaming Hand Soap Lavender
- Grove Collaborative Foaming Kids Hand Soap Pineapple Party
- Grove Collaborative Hand Soap Sheets 40 Washes
- Grove Collaborative Hand & Dish Wash Soap
- Hand in Hand Bar Soap Fragrance-Free
- Hippie Butter Hemp Oil Bath Soap
- Kirk’s Gentle Castile Fragrance-Free Bar
- Kiss My Face Kid’s Fragrance-Free Hand Soap
- Kiss My Face Olive Oil Bar Soap Fragrance-Free
- Kosmatology Lemon Lovers Foaming Hand Soap
- Lemongrass Spa Lemon Sorbet Foaming Liquid Soap
- Lemongrass Spa Lavender Mint Prebiotic Hand Wash
- Lemongrass Spa Unscented Prebiotic Hand Wash
- LimeLife Vegan Body Soap Charcoal, Peppermint, & Tea Tree
- Moon Valley Organics Sage Herbal Soap Bar
- Moon Valley Organics Foaming Herbal Hand Soap Lemon Rosemary
- Mrs. Meyers Lavender Hand Soap
- Norwex Unscented Foaming Hand Wash
- Norwex Orange Blossom Gel Hand Soap
- Organic Bath Co Naked Hand Soap
- Pipette Hand Wash Bergamot & Lemon
- Poofy Lavender Lemon Everything Soap
- Poofy Spirited Mint All Purpose Soap Concentrate
- Puracy Lavender & Vanilla Natural Foaming Hand Soap (Use discount code “MAMAVATION20” for 20% off products)
- Pure Haven Moisturizing Hand Soap Sweet Orange Lemon – 8oz. or 16 oz.Refill (pumps sold separately)
- Pure Haven Sweet Orange Bar Soap
- Pure Haven Cocoa Butter Goat Milk Soap
- Quinn’s Unscented Castile Soap
- Rocky Mountain Soap Company Everything Wash Scent Free
- Rocky Mountain Soap Company Antibacterial Kitchen Hand Wash
- Rocky Mountain Soap Company Baby Foaming Wash
- Sally B’s Skin Yummies Foaming Hand Soap Unscented
- Seventh Generation Hand Wash Fragrance-Free
- Seventh Generation Purely Clean Hand Wash
- Thrive Market Grapefruit Mandarin Charcoal Hand Wash
- Vitacost Glonaturals Liquid Castile Soap Peppermint
- Vitacost globaby Baby Liquid Castile Soap Unscented
- WFM 365 Foaming Hand Soap Fragrance-Free
- WFM 365 Foaming Hand Soap Mint Garden
- Yaya Maria Natural Hand Soap (in Lavender, Lemongrass, or Spearmint)
- Young Living Thieves Foaming Hand Soap
- Young Living Valor Moisturizing Soap Bar
- Young Living Luscious Lemon Foaming Hand Soap
Funny how Aunt Fannie’s hand soap is listed as the “best” when Cocamidopropyl Betaine is the second ingredient right after water for all 4 scents listed from the link. Makes me doubt the integrity of the suggested soaps.
I started using Mrs. Meyer’s lavender hand soap from Costco a couple years ago. After several months, I developed severe dry hands to the point where my hand skin would cut open.
I didn’t know what was happening, whether I had lupus or what not.
but now, I believe I have contact dermatitis from using Mrs Meyers soap.
before that, I had been using soft soap for years.
Any news on The Naked Bee skin cream, hand lotion liquid and bar soap?
Have you heard of cleancult products? If so how do you rate them? Thanks
I think what might help is to recommend best/better soaps that can be purchased at major stores/store chains. I shop at a health food store as well, but even I, myself, have never seen most of these products. Dr. Bronners and Kirks are widely sold (Whole Foods, Now Foods in far western burbs of Chicago in Illinois), but the rest of these, where do we get them? If you have a scattered reading audience, we need a broad range of where to get. But otherwise, EXCELLENT work! Thanks
JR, that is an excellent point, however, I find that most of the best nontoxic products will be found online and not in a brick and mortar store. It may seem weird to purchase your cleaning products online but most of the companies offer subscription discounts and you automatically receive it at the exact time you need it. I use mostly Attitude products and they offer bulk in most of their items and I’ve never had to pay shipping.