12 Hand Soaps That Are Effective at Killing Germs and Hydrating Your Hands
In addition to being effective and gentle, they also smell and look good, too.
Whether you suds up while counting slowly to 20 or prefer to pass the time by singing the chorus of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," properly washing your hands throughout the day is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. That said, not all soaps are created equal. Some may tout their antibacterial properties, while others might include more moisturizing ingredients or botanical extracts. In a perfect world, your hand soap has both. Luckily, several exist—and you can purchase them right now. Ultimately, though, the best hand soap you can buy is the one you're most likely to use over and again—we think any product that turns lathering up into a feel-good experience is bound to be used more frequently.
For most people, a soap that smells amazing, makes your hands feel extra soft (this is important when you're washing frequently!), and looks pretty on the sink counter is the one you're most likely to reach for. Just as big a draw? "Many customers look for ingredients they recognize, like olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil, or goat's milk," says Barb Delossantos, vice president of the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild. She says it's common for people to purchase soaps with added shea or cocoa butter.
In the end, though, any soap will get the job done. Brian Sansoni of the American Cleaning Institute says that "it doesn't matter what type of soap you use to wash your hands—all soaps help to lift dirt and grime." But, since hand washing is one of the most important habits for living a healthy lifestyle, you might as well elevate the experience. Ahead, you'll find some of our favorite fragrant, moisturizing, and effective hand washes that will get you excited about sudsing up more regularly—so you can spend those 20 seconds by the sink belting out the chorus of your favorite tune, whatever it may be.
Sweet and Soothing
If you are looking for hand soap filled with fruity scents and nourishing ingredients, you're in luck: This formula pairs notes of grapefruit, neroli, and geranium with soothing orange peel extract to refresh your hands with every wash.
Shop Now: Dally "Naps in the Grove" Hand Wash, $21, dallygoods.com.
Scents of Suede
Known for its perfumes, Byredo's hand soaps are expectedly fragrant while providing moisture and softness to hands. The suede scent notes include a base of crisp amber, pear, soft musk, and velvet plum with lily of the valley and violet notes, topped with bergamot and fresh aldehydes.
Shop Now: Byredo Suede Hand Wash, $65, bloomingdales.com.
You've likely used this bright, citrus scent a time or two before, as Mrs. Meyers is a brand that's adored for its punchy fragrances and reasonable price point. This lemony wash uses plant-based ingredients for cleansing, plus olive oil and aloe vera for softening.
Shop Now: Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Verbena Liquid Hand Soap, $4.99, target.com.
Rich and Woody
For those attracted to rich, woody scents, Jo Malone's Black Cedarwood and Juniper Body and Hand Wash delivers a clear soap with a rich lather and long-lasting earthy fragrance.
Shop Now: Jo Malone Black Cedarwood and Juniper Body and Hand Wash, $60, amazon.com.
Available in lemongrass or lavender scents, Follain Everything Soap is like a castile soap in that it can be used to wash everything from your hands and your dishes to your dog. Saponified olive and jojoba oils work with aloe vera to provide big-time hydration, while fighting bacteria and delivering antioxidants that keep skin healthy.
Shop Now: Follain Refillable Everything Soap, $18, follain.com.
This liquid soap is made of lavender honey and organic floral waters, and is regenerative and moisturizing. The scent notes also include subtle hints of amber and ylang ylang.
Shop Now: Diptyque Softening Hand Rinse, $62, diptyqueparis.com.
Sweet and Spicy
This multi-purpose wash can be used in the sink or the shower— wherever you want to experience this formula's sugar-meets-spice scent. The foaming gel uses amino acids and hydrating glycerin, making it a safe bet for those with sensitive skin.
Shop Now: Malin+Goetz Rum Hand+Body Wash, $24, spacenk.com.
Orange, rosemary, and lavender oils collide to bring not only a crisp, woody scent to your hands, but also plenty of moisture. Follow up the gentle gel wash with the brand's complementary hand balm for extra soft hands.
Shop Now: Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash, $39, nordstrom.com.
No Water Needed
A moisturizer with cleansing properties? Sign us up! This naturally-derived formula from J.R. Watkins is a no-rinse hand cleanser that hydrates and revitalizes skin while delivering a fresh rosewater fragrance. While this doesn't replace the act of physically washing your hands, it's a good on-the-go option.
Shop Now: J.R. Watkins Rosewater Cleansing Hand Elixir, $9.99, jrwatkins.com.
Made of a plant-based formula with sea buckthorn, rosemary leaf, and sugarcane, this vegan hand soap from Le Labo is all natural. The basil scent combines with verbena to produce a garden-like, bright fragrance.
Shop Now: Le Labo Basil Hand Soap, $23, lelabofragrances.com.
Lavender fans will love this coconut oil-based option—it reminds us of walking through a lavender field in Provence.
Shop Now: Compagnie De Provence Extra Pur Liquid Soap in Lavender, $28, anthropologie.com.
A blend of organic sugar, white grape juice, coconut oil, olive oil, and hemp oil, this Dr. Bronner's pump soap is good for hands, face, body, and hair washing. The four-in-one concoction lathers up when used as a hand wash, and keeps skin feeling extra smooth.
Shop Now: Dr. Bronner's 4-in-1 Lemongrass Lime Organic Sugar Soap, $19.99, walmart.com.