These 12 Soaps Make Hand Washing Way More Enjoyable

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

A basic necessity to kill germs, a scented sink-side accessory—no matter how you think of hand soap, there’s no denying that you need it. And whether you want to stick with a simple, budget-friendly pick or splurge on a luxurious bottle, there are more options out there than ever before. So we sorted through the suds to find a handful of the best, perfect for every sink in your house.

Ahead, our picks of the best hand soaps on the market.

To prevent the spread of germs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to lather up in between your fingers and under your nails. Rinse thoroughly under the tap (warm or cold) and dry with a clean towel. 

Due to increased demand for online shopping, items in this article may be out of stock. Updates to this article will be made frequently with products we recommend.

Best Overall: Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash

Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash

This cleansing gel gets the job done, leaving hands feeling fresh and clean, though never stripped (credit the addition of orange, rosemary, and lavender oils). We can’t get enough of the citrusy-meets woodsy-meets herbaceous scent, a crowd-pleaser among both men and women, and the ultra-chic bottle. Bonus points for the jumbo size, which seemingly lasts forever.

Best Budget: Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap

Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap

With a pretty bottle and sophisticated scent combos, it’s hard to believe that this rings in at the price of coffee. But it does, which means you can pick one up—it comes in four different varieties—for every sink in your house.

Best Drugstore: Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap

If we’re being realistic, we totally get that dedicated hand soap shopping isn’t a thing for most people. Enter this brand, readily available at most grocery stores and drugstores. Not only is the formula clean, but it also comes in a host of different (all equally yummy) scents, features cute retro packaging, and rings in at a price that can’t be beaten. 

Best Antibacterial: Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Wash

Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Wash

By default, many antibacterial formulas can be pretty aggressive on your skin, but let’s face it, there are certain times when you really want to remove all traces of germs and bacteria. Luckily, this option is aggressive on germs but gentle on hands. It kills 99.9% of bacteria but still leaves your skin both completely clean and super soft.

Best Luxury: Byredo Scented Hand Wash

byredo suede hand wash

Sure, you could save this splurge-worthy sudser for a special occasion or reserve it for the ‘guests only’ bathroom…or you could #treatyourself. Just like the brand’s perfumes, the three scent variants are nuanced, complex, and totally addicting. Good luck choosing between Suede, which is floral and fruity, Rose, balanced out with musk and pink pepper, and the tart yet earthy Vetyver (we certainly can’t). The good news is you really can’t go wrong because either way, these make the simple act of washing your hands feel like a major self-care moment. 

Best Moisturizing: Ouai Hand Wash

Ouai Hand Wash

When you think of hand soaps, hydration isn't necessarily the first word that comes to mind. But with this option from OUAI, it should be, thanks to ultra-moisturizing ingredients like avocado and rosehip oils. This hand soap doesn't skimp on cleansing, either, with biodegradable jojoba beads that gently exfoliate the skin. Its scent is something to write home about, too—notes of rose, citrus fruits, magnolia, and linden blossom leave you feeling refreshed after each and every wash.

Best Scent: Oribe Côte d’Azur Revitalizing Hand Wash

Oribe Côte d’Azur Revitalizing Hand Wash

Oribe hair products are well-known (and beloved) for their signature scent, a sophisticated blend with notes of citrus and jasmine. Now, that scent comes in a creamy and luscious soap that not only smells amazing, but also hydrates and prevents dry hands, thanks to a blend of sweet almond, meadowfoam, starflower, and grapeseed oils. And we’d be remiss not to mention the pumpkin-shaped, amber-colored bottle, which looks more like a piece of artwork than a bottle of hand wash.

Best Soothing: L'Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Hand Wash

loccitane shea butter hand wash

When you’re washing your hands frequently (hello, cold and flu season), or it’s cold and dry outside, keep this hydration option handy (pun intended). Loaded with fatty acids to help replenish moisture, it’s made with 5% shea milk and also contains soothing and protective oat milk, too.

Best Exfoliating: Compagnie de Provence Exfoliating Liquid Marseille Soap

Compagnie de Provence Savon de Marseille Extra Pure Liquid Soap

You exfoliate your face and body, so why not your hands? In this formula—which can also pull double-duty as a body wash—ground olive stones effectively buff away dry skin, making this a top choice to keep sink side during the winter. (Still, it’s gentle enough that you can use it daily.) With a citrusy and minty scent, we especially like keeping it next to the kitchen sink.

Best Variety: Bath & Body Works Hand Soap

Bath and Body Works Hand Soap

There’s a good reason why this is America’s number one hand soap brand. Not only are there four different formulas to choose from—gentle foaming, nourishing, exfoliating, and cream luxe—but there are also more than 50 (yes, you read that right) different fragrances to choose from. All of that variety plus cute packaging rings in at an affordable price…which just means that you can stock up and mix and match all the more.

Best Natural Formula: Indigo Wild Zum Wash

All you need is a tiny pump of this clean cleanser. Made without any detergents or petroleum by-products, it’s packed with certified organic jojoba, olive, and coconut oils instead for a heavy hit of hydration. It also doesn’t contain parabens or phthalates, and, unlike many natural options, comes in a wide array of eight different fragrances.

Best Gentle: EO Hand Soap

All-natural and made with organic ingredients, this formula is free of sulfates—harsh detergents that can strip your skin—relying on amino-based cleansers instead. It also touts a blend of botanical and herbal extracts, think aloe and calendula to soothe dry hands, along with nourishing vitamin E. Also nice: The roses they source help support local farmers in Bulgaria, Turkey, and Morocco.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. When and How to Wash Your Hands. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

  2. Muthaiyan A, Biswas D, Crandall PG, Wilkinson BJ, Ricke SC. Application of orange essential oil as an antistaphylococcal agent in a dressing modelBMC Complement Altern Med. 2012;12:125. Published 2012 Aug 16. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-125

  3. Sienkiewicz M, Łysakowska M, Pastuszka M, Bienias W, Kowalczyk E. The potential of use basil and rosemary essential oils as effective antibacterial agentsMolecules. 2013;18(8):9334-9351. Published 2013 Aug 5. doi:10.3390/molecules18089334

  4. Tankeu SY, Vermaak I, Kamatou GPP, Viljoen AM. Vibrational spectroscopy and chemometric modeling: An economical and robust quality control method for lavender oil. Industrial Crops and Products. 2014;59:234-240. doi:10.1016/j.indcrop.2014.05.005

  5. Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant OilsInt J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

  6. Oh MJ, Cho YH, Cha SY, et al. Novel phytoceramides containing fatty acids of diverse chain lengths are better than a single C18-ceramide N-stearoyl phytosphingosine to improve the physiological properties of human stratum corneumClin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:363-371. Published 2017 Sep 13. doi:10.2147/CCID.S143591

  7. Balić A, Vlašić D, Žužul K, Marinović B, Bukvić Mokos Z. Omega-3 Versus Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Prevention and Treatment of Inflammatory Skin DiseasesInt J Mol Sci. 2020;21(3):741. Published 2020 Jan 23. doi:10.3390/ijms21030741

  8. Cooke A, Cork MJ, Victor S, et al. Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil or no Oil for Baby Dry Skin or Massage: A Pilot, Assessor-blinded, Randomized Controlled Trial (the Oil in Baby SkincaRE [OBSeRvE] Study)Acta Derm Venereol. 2016;96(3):323-330. doi:10.2340/00015555-2279

  9. Bondi CA, Marks JL, Wroblewski LB, Raatikainen HS, Lenox SR, Gebhardt KE. Human and Environmental Toxicity of Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): Evidence for Safe Use in Household Cleaning ProductsEnviron Health Insights. 2015;9:27-32. Published 2015 Nov 17. doi:10.4137/EHI.S31765

  10. Hekmatpou D, Mehrabi F, Rahzani K, Aminiyan A. The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic ReviewIran J Med Sci. 2019;44(1):1-9.

  11. Akhtar N, Zaman SU, Khan BA, Amir MN, Ebrahimzadeh MA. Calendula extract: effects on mechanical parameters of human skinActa Pol Pharm. 2011;68(5):693-701.

  12. Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatologyIndian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311-315. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.185494

Related Stories