Clean, Non-Toxic Hand Soap For The Whole Family

Switch out your hand soap containing synthetic fragrances and preservatives for non-toxic hand soap. We tested 8 brands of clean & natural hand soap that are free from parabens and phthalates and found something for everyone in the family!   

Woman washing hands

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House rules are different for every family. For mine, removing shoes and washing hands upon entering are 2 policies I always enforce. The hand washing rule extends beyond just entering the house, and I’m sure everyone in my family washes their hands many times a day (I hope?).

With all of the hand washing going on, I want the hand soap my family uses to be free from ingredients that may be harmful to our health, including synthetic fragrances and parabens used as preservatives. I tested 8 brands of clean, non-toxic hand soap to see how well they produced suds and moisturized. Keep reading to find out how well each hand soap brand performed. But first, let’s talk about how to properly wash your hands.

WHEN TO WASH YOUR HANDS?

The CDC recommends washing your hands before, during and/or after these tasks (I added the first one):

  • When you come home from any public place (running errands, hanging out with friends, school, etc.)
  • 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

5 Steps to wash your hands

INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN HAND SOAP

  • Parabens– Parabens are a type of preservative used to prevent the growth of bacteria and prolong the shelf life of lip balm, deodorant, lotion, and other beauty and personal care products. The most commonly used are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben and butylparaben. Based on a study conducted at the University of California Berkeley, researchers found that parabens were able to stimulate breast cancer cell growth, even at concentrations 100 times lower than the natural growth factor heregulin. These findings suggest that paraben exposure doesn’t have to be high to lead to cancer growth (1).
  • Phthalates– Phthalates are used to increase the flexibility and transparency in plastics. They’re also found in personal care products, and they enhance product absorption, help products stick to your skin and keep fragrance smelling fresh. Phthalates mimic hormones, interrupting hormone production (2). A 2018 review found that current human exposure to phthalates may have effects on the male reproductive system (3).
  • Polyethylene glycol– Polyethylene glycol is used to make personal care products thicker and better able to transport moisture to the skin. The manufacturing process introduces impurities and by-products, such as ethylene oxides and 1,4-dioxane, which are known carcinogenic materials (4).
  • Synthetic fragrance- Personal care products can list fragrance as one ingredient and don’t have to disclose the fact that these formulations may contain hundreds of ingredients. Synthetic Fragrance may contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, respiratory irritants and neurotoxic chemicals (5). Synthetic musks like galaxolide and tonalide, are linked to hormone disruption (6). Fragrance formulations also contain phthalates, which are hormone disruptors.
  • Sulfates– Sulfates like Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) are added to many personal care products to produce foam. SLS can lead to irritation, and that’s something worth avoiding if you’re washing your hands multiple times a day.

How does the Environmental Working Group (EWG) score products? The EWG rates products on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the safest, and 10 being the most concerning. The EWG also marks products as EWG VERIFIED™, meaning the product meets the strictest ingredient and manufacturing standards. EWG VERIFIED™ products don’t contain any ingredients the EWG has identified as unacceptable.

The good news is that there are brands dedicated to making clean, non-toxic hand soaps that lather and hydrate. The 8 hand soaps below are non-toxic options that work for all of the hand washing you do!

HOW WE TESTED CLEAN, NATURAL, NON-TOXIC HAND SOAP

We tested 8 brands of clean hand soap (free from phthalates, parabens, sulfates, silicones, synthetic fragrance and more chemicals depending on the brand). We had plenty of opportunities to wash our hands, and the whole family washed with each of these hand soap brands throughout a 4 week period. All of the hand soap we tested was reasonably priced.

*Cost was calculated at the time this article was published, and is subject to change. All hand soap ingredients are listed at the end of this post.

8 Non-Toxic Hand Soap Brands

Everyone Hand Soap 

  • Cost: $5.99 for 12.75 fl oz. (377 ml) or $0.47 per oz.
  • Scents: Ruby Grapefruit, Lemon + Mandarin, Lavender + Coconut, Spearmint + Lemongrass
  • EWG Score: EWG Verified
  • Refill Container Size: 32 fl oz.
  • My Take: My whole family loves this hand soap. It has a nice velvety lather that feels moisturizing. It also has a really nice but not overpowering grapefruit scent.
  • From the Everyone website: A little tart, a little sweet — this EWG VERIFIED™ hand soap is scented with a unique blend of citrus essential oils. Featuring gentle coconut-derived cleansers and organic plant extracts for clean, happy hands. No Parabens, no synthetic fragrances, no triclosan.

EO Hand Soap 

  • Cost: $8.99 for 12 fl oz. (355 ml) or $0.75 per oz.
  • Scents: French Lavender, Orange Blossom Vanilla, Peppermint & Tea Tree, Lemon & Eucalyptus, Rose & Lemon, Geranium, Unscented
  • EWG Score: 2
  • Refill Container Size: 1 gallon
  • My Take: I already have the EO lavender hand sanitizer and love the smell, and this soap is very similar. It lathers well and feels moisturizing.
  • From the EO website: This sulfate-free hand soap contains nutrient-rich botanical extracts and mild cleansers. Breathe in the soothing scent of lavender pure essential oil every time you wash your hands. Hello, aromatherapy.

Seventh Generation Hand Wash Free & Clean

  • Cost: $2.99 for 12 fl. oz (354 ml) or $0.25 per oz.
  • Scents: Free & Clear, Fresh Lemon & Tea Tree, Lavender Flower & Mint, Hibiscus & Cardamom, Mandarin Orange & grapefruit
  • Refill Container Size: 24 fl oz.
  • My Take: Even though this is “free & clean”, it did have a faint scent (not bad, but worth noting if you really want a product to be scent free). This had a nice lather and was moisturizing.
  • From the Seventh Generation website: Hand soap made with plant based ingredients, formulated with you and your family in mind. Made for sensitive skin and made without fragrances, dyes, or Triclosan.

Attitude Super Leaves Orange Hand Soap

  • Cost: $6.95 for 16 fl oz. (473 ml) or $0.43 per oz.
  • Scents: White Tea Leaves, Lemon Leaves, Olive Leaves, Orange Leaves, Extra Gentle
  • Refill Container Size: 2L (67.6 fl oz.)
  • EWG Score: EWG Verified
  • My Take: This soap has a silky smooth formula and moisturizes well. We all really liked this hand soap. The orange scented version has a cozy fall scent.
  • From the Attitude website: Wash your hands with a clear conscience knowing that ATTITUDE Super leaves™ Natural Liquid Hand Soap — Olive Leaves BULK to go format uses four times more product with 77% less plastic that its equivalent bottle. EWG VERIFIED™, ECOLOGO Certified and hypoallergenic, our lightweight liquid hand soap contains olive leaf and moringa seed extract to purify and regenerate your hard-working hands. Harness the power of nature to promote clean and healthy hands without polluting the environment. Refilling from home has never been so easy!

Eco Me Foaming Hand Soap

  • Cost: $9.73 for 20 fl oz. (592 ml) or $0.47 per oz.
  • EWG Score: No rating yet
  • Scents: Citrus berry, fresh mint, lavender, fragrance free
  • My Take: The foam is velvety soft and works into a nice lather. The citrus berry scent is reminiscent of a mild berry punch, and I think little kids would love it!
  • From the Eco Me website: What’s better than clean hands? Knowing that the soap you are using is free from chemicals, harsh detergents and synthetic fragrance. It’s safer for you, your family and the environment. What Makes it Work? Natural Plant Based Cleaning System Plant Essential Oils What it Doesn’t Contain: No Dyes or Colorants, No Harsh Preservatives, No Sulfates (SLS, SLES, ALS), No Animal Testing or By-Products

Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap

  • Cost: $7.95 for 12 fl oz. (355 ml) or $0.66 per oz.
  • Scents: Refreshing lemon, rejuvenating rosemary, nourishing lavender
  • EWG Score: 4
  • My Take: If you love the smell of lemon drop candies, then you’ll also love lathering up with this soap. The scent is really nice, unlike that fake cleaning product smell that some lemon scented products have. This soap lathers well and is moisturizing. It does contain essential oils that may irritate or cause allergies (why the EWG scored this a 4), but even with sensitive skin, I had no problems using this soap.
  • From the Avalon Organics website: A hardworking blend of botanical cleansers, lemon essential oil, chamomile, and vitamin E, known for their moisturizing and natural antibacterial properties, purify and refresh hands with every wash. Gentle enough for frequent hand washing. Free from GMOs, Sulfates, synthetic colors or fragrances, phthalates, animal testing

Aunt Fannie’s Microcosmic Hand Soap

  • Cost: $8.99 for 12 fl oz. or $0.75 per oz.
  • Scents: Soft Mint, Fresh Lemon, Lavender, Mandarin Grove,
  • EWG Score: EWG Verified
  • My Take: This soap lathered well and had a nice moisturizing feel to it. I also liked the orange scent. My younger daughter is allergic to juniper, and this product contains juniper oil, so for anyone with a juniper allergy, this soap won’t work for you.
  • From the Aunt Fannie’s website: Luxe lather smells amazing and brings a wellness clean to skin. Skin-loving probiotic wellness while you wash. Plant-based, super-safe formula cleans without harsh detergents or chemicals. Feel-good 100% plant essential oil scents. EWG verified™ For Your Health. Manufactured in the USA.

ECOS Hand Soap 

  • Cost: $3.49 for 17 fl oz. (503 ml) or $0.21 per oz.
  • EWG Score: 2
  • Scents: Free & Clear, Lavender, Lemongrass, Orange Blossom
  • Refill Container Size: 32 oz.
  • My Take: This is truly a scent free product – no smell whatsoever! It was the thinnest formula that we tried and didn’t produce as many suds as the other soaps, but if you prefer a thinner formula, this one works!
  • From the ECOS website: Feel the difference with a soothing blend of natural Vitamin E and antioxidants. Non-drying ECOS® Hypoallergenic Hand Soap cleanses and nourishes hands without irritating fragrances or dyes.
8 Non-Toxic Hand Soap Brands

SHOP NON-TOXIC HAND SOAP

HAND WASHING TIPS

  • Any temperature of water (hot, warm or cold) is fine for properly washing your hands. Soap works by rupturing the lipid membrane of most types of viruses and bacteria. Soap also breaks the chemical bonds between a surface (your hand) and the offending virus or bacteria. Rinsing your hands under running water then removes the bacteria and viruses from your hands.
  • Hand washing is more effective than just using hand sanitizer. However, if you aren’t able to wash your hands, you should definitely use hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethyl alcohol (ethanol). Our family favorite hand sanitizer is Juice Beauty Green Apple Hand Sanitizer. It moisturizes as it disinfects with 70% ethyl alcohol.
  • When you wash your hands, lather up all parts of your hands. Don’t forget your fingertips, thumbs, the backs of your hands and your palms. Give them a good scrub for 20 seconds before rinsing off all of the soap.
  • Keep a container of lotion next to the sink and apply after you wash your hands. This helps to keep your hands hydrated and replenishes stripped oils. We love Acure Seriously Soothing 24hr Moisture Lotion.
8 Non-Toxic Hand Soap Brands

INGREDIENTS

  • Everyone Hand Soap ingredients: Purified Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Coco-Sulfate, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sodium Chloride, Coco-Glucoside, Panthenol, EO® Essential Oil Blend [Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil, Juniperus Virginiana Oil, Cananga Odorata Flower Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil], EO® Organic Herbal Blend [Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Organic Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract and Organic Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract], Citric Acid, Sodium Phytate, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Tocopherol, Limonene* *component of essential oil
  • Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice(1) , Aqua (Water), Coco-Glucoside, Glycerin, Sodium Laurylglucosides Hydroxypropylsulfonate, Sorbitan Oleate Decylglucoside Crosspolymer, Decyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Cedrus Atlantica Bark Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, Calendula  Officinalis Flower Extract(1) , Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract(1) , Chenopodium Quinoa Seed(1) , Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Extract(1) , Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract(1) , Styrax Benzoin Resin Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Bisabolol, Citric Acid, Inulin(1) , Sodium Chloride, Alcohol(1) , Benzyl Alcohol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citral, Limonene  (1) Certified Organic Ingredient  Product is preserved with Sodium Benzoate
  • Seventh Generation Hand Wash Free & Clean ingredients: Water, sodium coco-sulfate (plant-derived cleaning agent), decyl glucoside (plant-derived surfactant), aloe barbadensis leaf juice (plant-derived feel enhancer), sodium chloride (mineral-based viscosity modifier), magnesium chloride (mineral-based viscosity modifier), glycerin (plant-derived foam enhancer), glyceryl caprylate/caprate (plant-derived skin conditioner), citric acid (plant-derived pH adjuster), tetrasodium iminodisuccinate (synthetic preservative enhancer), coco-glucoside (plant-derived skin conditioner), glyceryl oleate (plant-derived skin conditioner), and sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (synthetic preservatives).
  • EO Hand Soap ingredients: Purified Water, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Sodium Cocoamphoacetate, Glycerin, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sodium Lauryl Glucose Carboxylate, Sodium Myristoyl Sarcosinate, Coco-Glucoside, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Sodium Lauroyl Glutamate, EO® Essential Oil Blend [Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Lavandula Hybrida Oil], EO® Organic Herbal Blend [Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Organic Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, and Organic Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract], Citric Acid, Sodium Phytate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Levulinate
  • Attitude Super Leaves Hand Soap ingredients: Aqua / water / eau, sodium coco-sulfate, sodium chloride, coco-glucoside, vegetable glycerin, decyl glucoside, glyceryl oleate, citric acid, nasturtium officinale (watercress / cresson) extract, tropaeolum magus (indian cress / capucine) extract, maltodextrin, moringa oleifera seed extract, camellia sinensis (white tea / thé blanc) leaf extract, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, methyldihydrojasmonate (jasmin), hexyl salicylate (floral), pentadecalactone (fruit).
  • Aunt Fannie’s Microcosmic Hand Soap Ingredients: Water, Sodium Lauroyl Methyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Methyl Oleoyl Taurate, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Juniper Berry Oil, Mandarin Orange Peel Oil, Tangerine Peel Oil, Orange Peel Oil, Grapefruit Peel Oil, Sodium Chloride, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Undecylenoyl Glycine, Capryloyl Glycine, Citric Acid
  • Ecos Hand Soap ingredients: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (plant-powered surfactant), Sodium Coco Sulfate (plant-powered surfactant), Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (plant-powered surfactant), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Phenoxyethanol (preservative), Glycerin (plant-powered skin softener), Tocopherol (Natural vitamin E).

REFERENCES

  1. https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.1409200
  2. Patisaul, H.B. and Adawele, H.B. Long-Term Effects of Environmental Endocrine Disruptors on Reproductive Physiology and Behavior. Front Behav Neurosci. 2009; 3: 10.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2706654/
  3. Adke, E.G. et al. Phthalate exposure and male reproductive outcomes: A systematic review of the human epidemiological evidence. Environ Int. 2018 Dec;121(Pt 1):764-793.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30336412
  4. Jang, H.J. et al. Safety Evaluation of Polyethylene Glycol (PEG) Compounds for Cosmetic Use. Toxicol Res. 2015 Jun; 31(2): 105–136.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4505343/
  5. Nudelman, J. and Engel, C. Right To Know. Exposing toxic fragrance chemicals in beauty, personal care and cleaning products. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. Sept. 2018.
    https://d124kohvtzl951.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/26092837/BCPP_Right-To-Know-Report_Secret-Toxic-Fragrance-Ingredients_9_26_2018.pdf
  6. Synthetic Musks. Campaign For Safe Cosmetics. A Project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
    http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/synthetic-musks/

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