natural hand soap

The Best Natural Hand Soap Options (+5 To Avoid!)

Over the past few years, we’ve all probably become more aware of washing our hands for cleanliness and disease control, which is a good thing. But are you using non-toxic, natural hand soap? There’s no need for antibacterial soaps that can cause dry skin and contain harmful ingredients! All you need for clean hands is a little warm water and non-toxic hand soap.

Since there have been quite a few people asking which natural products are best, can stop the spread of germs, and are free from synthetic fragrances, SLS, harsh detergents, artificial colors, and other toxic chemicals, I thought I would review 5 best natural hand soap options as well as 5 “natural” products that may not be the best choice.

washing hands

Ready to check them out? Let’s get started!

Why Choose Natural Hand Soap?

We know that handwashing can prevent disease and stop the spread of germs, right?

But did you know that according to the FDA, antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap and water at removing germs and dirt from your hands?

This is great news because most antibacterial formulas were removed from commercial hand soaps.

But, there are still several ingredients that should be of great concern to us.

Some of these ingredients include:

  • parabens
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • artificial fragrances
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine 
  • Triclosan

And that’s just for starters!

Problems With Chemical Ingredients

Let’s go over a few issues with chemicals commonly found in many brands of liquid hand soap that is commonly found at the grocery store.

First, parabens are becoming more commonly known for their disruption of hormones in the body.

Parabens are known to cause endocrine disruption which means that they can harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer.

SLS and SLES can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs, especially with repeated use (like hand washing!).

SLES may also be contaminated with a substance called 1,4-dioxane, which has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals.

This contamination can occur during the manufacturing process.

There is also a large concern about the use of the term “fragrance” in hand soaps and body care products.

It can be used by manufacturers as sort of a catch-all for undisclosed ingredients. Some are specific in their labeling,
but many just have “fragrance”.

And get this-there is no safety data regarding what it could cause in our bodies and on our skin.

According to the FDA, “Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility for ensuring that their products are safe.”

Also, “The law does not require FDA approval before they go on the market.”

That’s concerning.

Ready to ditch chemical-filled products and switch to a natural hand soap? Here are 5 great options I think you’re really going to like!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

5 Best Natural Hand Soap Options

Because this is such an important issue, I’ve been doing a lot of research and have put together a list for those who want a better, safer option for themselves and their family.

This info could also be helpful if you have sensitive skin, allergies, eczema, or other skin sensitivities, or if you want to support companies who value transparency in labeling and manufacturing of their natural hand soap.

Let’s find some great products to get the job done the right way!

Here are my top five picks for the best natural hand soaps.

Be sure to read all the way to the end because I’ve also included the five worst and some info on their ingredients as well.

1. Sally B’s Skin Yummies

Sally B's Skin Yummies soap

Sally B’s foaming hand soap is EWG verified, 100% free of GMOs, artificial ingredients, and parabens.

They are also gluten-free, cruelty-free, and vegan.

That’s pretty impressive!

Their ingredient list includes: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Aloe Vera, Rosemary Extract, Organic Essential Oils added for fragrance in scented varieties.

They offer several different scents to choose from including peppermint, lavender, and lemongrass.

For those with sensitive skin, there is an unscented option.

This hand soap is great because your hands will stay moisturized even with frequent hand washing.

Another benefit to Sally B’s is that the foam comes out of the dispenser nicely and you really do get a good lather.

Some people (myself included) really like a good lather, so if you fall into that camp too, you’ll definitely want to check this one out!

2. Everyone Hand Soap

Everyone Hand Soap

All of the Everyone hand soaps are EWG verified, GMO-free and cruelty-free.

These soaps contain gentle coconut-derived cleansers which means this ingredient is a surfactant (soap without SLS!), so it can allow oil and water to mix, making it an effective cleansing agent.

Research has shown that it is a non-irritant, so even sensitive skin can benefit from this product!

According to the Everyone soap website, they combine soothing organic herbs like calendula, aloe vera, and chamomile with the antioxidants of white tea extracts and vitamins E and B5.

So you get hands that feel nourished and clean without harsh chemicals.

Scents offered include rose and lemon, orange blossom and vanilla, as well as some classics like French lavender or lemon and eucalyptus.

And one more bonus- you can buy this natural hand soap in a gallon refill size!

3. Attitude Hand Soap

Attitude hand soap

ATTITUDE natural hand soap is one of my family’s favorites.

Not only do I like that it’s made with clean ingredients, but my kids also love having a foaming hand soap.

The products from this company are EWG verified, and they give a promise that they develop natural personal care and household products dedicated to promoting healthy living.

ATTITUDE natural hand soaps are also hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested.

This hand soap is a great choice for those with sensitive skin!

Orange and cardamom are the two aromas you’ll notice with their orange leaf scented hand soap (which is a favorite in our house).

They also offer scents like white tea leaves, sensitive, extra sensitive, and nourishing, which are infused with chamomile and oats to soothe often-washed sensitive skin.

For those who are looking, they do have an extra gentle option! It’s oatmeal infused, unscented, and perfect for those who are sensitive to other hand soap ingredients.

And, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly reason to give this option a try- this company also offers bulk refill sizes!

4. Yaya Maria’s Natural Hand Soap

Yaya maria's hand soap

Yaya Maria’s Natural Hand Soap carries an “A” rating from the EWG.

And as a fun fact- this product contains only six ingredients – distilled water, vegetable glycerine, coconut oil, castor oil, potash, and lavender essential oil.

Talk about transparency!

Not much to hide in these hand soap ingredients.

They also tout several other certifications. They are vegan, cruelty-free, nature watch foundation endorsed, Green Americal certified, and USDA-certified 100% Biobased (meaning the soap is made entirely from plants!).

Yaya Maria’s only offers one scent currently, but if you are a lavender lover, this might be for you!

We found that the soap washes off easily, leaving no noticeable residue while also it leaving hands amazingly soft, which I think could be perfect for people with sensitive skin or small children.

One more thing to love about Yaya Maria’s natural hand soap- their bottles are BPA-free and they state that their manufacturing process sends zero waste to landfills.

5. Sonett Hand Soap

Sonett hand soap

Sonett’s natural hand soap is made from pure plant-based oils and essential oils from certified organic cultivation.

This is a German company, so their certifications for natural hand soap ingredients are somewhat different than here in the US.

They are NCS-Label certified which means they are made using organically grown raw materials, non-GMO, no microplastics, parabens, silicones, or phthalates.

Sonnet hand soap has also been certified according to the criteria of NCP (Nature Care Product). This is one of the top, trusted symbols for ecological laundry detergents and cleaning agents in Germany and NCS (Natural Cosmetics Standard) for ecological body care and cosmetics.

They do offer a variety of scents, including an unscented option.

In my opinion, Sonnett hand soap is just as good as their natural dish soap (which happens to be one of my favorites).

I felt like this product worked great, left my skin feeling soft, and that the scent was absolutely delightful!

5 “Natural” Hand Soaps To Avoid

Now, let’s take a look at my picks for the 5 worst “natural” hand soaps.

As we know there are many harmful ingredients in commercial hand soaps but products labeled “natural” should be better options, right?

Not necessarily.

Let’s look at a few products, why they don’t make the cut, and ingredients you should look for (and stay away from) next time you go shopping.

1. Mrs. Meyers

Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap starts out our list for worst “natural” hand soaps.

The ingredients are concerning right off the bat.

First, we will look at Cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, sodium methyl 2-sulfolaurate, and disodium 2-sulfolaurate.

These are three surfactants found in Mrs. Meyer’s hand soaps.

The main cause for concern is that they have no safety data.

Also listed are several preservatives and synthetic fragrances.

Mrs. Meyers would fall under the category of soap without SLS, but there are so many other concerning ingredients, we can’t really consider these natural hand soap at all.

EWG gives these hand soaps a rating of as high as 4 (the lower the number, the better, so this isn’t great).

The lavender option contains ingredients that cause high concern for contamination, skin and eye sensitivities, allergy triggers, endocrine, and reproductive system harm as well as organ system toxicity.

These are not the ingredients we are looking for!

2. JR Watkins

According to the EWG website, the hand soap ingredients for JR Watkins are somewhat undisclosed.

Their rating on the EWG website is a 4 (which isn’t good).

Also on the list is fragrance, which is known to cause skin irritation/allergies/damage, acute aquatic toxicity, respiratory irritation, biodegradation.

The list goes on to include methylisothiazolinone known for causing skin irritation and allergies.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and phenoxyethanol both cause damage to the general body system and organs.

And Nitrosamines cause cancer and reproductive effects.

I think we can safely say that this is not a natural hand soap!

I definitely don’t want those ingredients in my home to be used by my family members.

3. Bath And Bodyworks

Ok, I know a lot of people are huge fans of this company and their products, but hear me out.

The list of terrible ingredients in this hand soap is so long (and honestly kind of scary) that I’m just going to give you the top three terrible ingredients.

The EWG rates this hand soap as a 7.

The first is retinyl palmitate. This ingredient is known to be cancer-causing, it creates developmental/reproductive system toxicity and causes biochemical or cellular level changes.

Let me repeat: cellular level changes….Yikes! That is scary.

I truly cannot believe that it is allowed to be manufactured and sold as a product to be put on the human body!

They also use “fragrance”. The exact type is undisclosed because it isn’t required by the FDA, as we discussed earlier.

We do know that these ingredients can cause allergies/immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption,non-reproductive organ system toxicity, and ecotoxicology.

Lastly, I’ll tell you about methylisothiazolinone, which causes allergies/immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, ecotoxicology, and irritation to the skin, eyes, and lungs.

Like the others on this list, we certainly wouldn’t call this a natural hand soap by any standard!

4. Bodycology

The name and the beautiful plants and flowers on the label can make you think that these products are made with pure water and botanical extracts, but sadly, that’s not the case.

In fact, this soap also contains the mysterious “fragrance”!

So skin sensitivities, allergies, eye, and lung sensitivities are possible.

The EWG gives this hand soap a rating of 5.

Bodycology hand soap contains methylisothiazolinone which causes skin irritation and allergies.

But they also contain, among a long list of other harmful ingredients, BLUE 1 (CI 42090).

This is known to cause neurotoxicity endocrine disruption, skin irritation, and organ toxicity.

Also, it is known to cause contamination concerns with aniline and cadmium, which are both highly toxic and can cause defects in DNA repair and genomic instability, which is a characteristic of cancer cells.

5. Method

The Method is another brand that people mistakenly believe is a more natural product line.

But, the list of toxic ingredients is long for this one too!

Like I did with the last few, I’ll give you a few of the highest concerns (although all of them are concerning!)

The EWG gives some of these hand soaps a rating of 5.

We see Methylisothiazolinone again in this soap. So, as I said before, it can cause allergic reactions and skin sensitivities.

Lilial is second on the ingredient list and we haven’t seen that in any of the other soaps.

It has been known to cause allergies and immunotoxicity, endocrine disruption and non-reproductive organ system toxicity.

Method hand soap also contains tocopheryl acetate.

This is known to cause a high contamination concern regarding hydroquinone, which is sometimes used as a skin brightener but can cause irritation.

Not a great choice for those with sensitive skin.

Some other high concerns listed by EWG are chances of contamination, neurotoxicity concerns as well as it contains endocrine disruptors.

FAQ’s About Natural Hand Soap

Still have a few lingering questions? I’ll try to answer them here 🙂

1. Are all hand soaps antibacterial?

No, all hand soaps are not antibacterial. Regular soap and water can kill germs but to be considered antibacterial there is usually Triclosan or other chemicals added.

In most cases, plain soap will work just fine and antibacterial options aren’t needed- or even recommended!

Unless you’re a surgeon scrubbing up for your next patient, it’s actually not a good thing to wash all of the bacteria off of your hands.

2. Is Organic Hand Soap Better?

I think so. If a natural hand soap is labeled as organic it should contain ingredients that have been grown without harsh or harmful chemicals.

And organic soaps typically contain ingredients like vitamin E, Tea Tree Oil, shea butter, organic hemp oil, and other easy-to-read and understand natural ingredients on the product labels.

3. What Should I Look For In A Natural Hand Soap?

We went over a few of the ingredients to avoid in the product descriptions above but some things to look for before deciding on a brand is how transparent a company is about their ingredients, their score on EWG, user reviews, and then be sure to look up any ingredients that you aren’t sure of.

You’ll also want to look at what, if any, natural fragrance or essential oils are listed on the label- especially if you are sensitive or prefer unscented.

4. Can You Make Your Own Hand Soap?

Yes, you can! Here is one of the best ways to make your own soap that we have used many times try this- get a bottle of your favorite Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap, fill a saved hand soap bottle or dispenser 1/4- 1/2 full with Dr. Bronner’s and fill the rest with water.

This simple recipe works best with a foaming soap bottle, but it will work with other dispensers too, it may just be a little thinner than the soap you’re used to using.

The good news is that this can also be used for a body soap or shampoo if you are camping or find yourself short on those products.

There are also many different homemade hand soap recipes out there too. Just be sure to choose a recipe that calls for natural ingredients.

A Few Last Thoughts About Natural Hand Soap Options

All of the natural hand soap products I have listed in this post are natural, work well, and are rated ‘A’ by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

At the time of this writing, they do not contain any of the toxic chemicals that are listed above and are commonly found in commercial hand soap products.

These companies are known for their high standards, are concerned with the health of people as well as the environment, biodegradable ingredients, and choose to use natural or certified organic ingredients.

And while many of us are not a huge fan of plastic bottles, these can often be recycled.

If that’s not an option, you could always reuse the bottles by buying your favorite natural hand soap refill as this typically has very minimal packaging.

No matter which of these natural options you choose, you can feel good knowing that you are choosing a product that is safe for you and the environment.

So give them a try and see which one you like best! 😉

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