This past year has highlighted the importance of washing your hands properly and often more often than ever before. Our hands are our everyday life tools that touch everything — from doorknobs to keys to smartphones and even our own bodies. Keeping them as clean as possible has been proven to effectively decrease your risk of getting sick or spreading germs to others. One of the best (and most fun!) types of soap out there is foaming hand soap.
Unlike some bottles of antibacterial hand soap and hand sanitizer, foaming hand soap produces a rich lather of bubbles that you can spread across your entire hand’s surface. The foam can help you ensure you’re hitting every spot of your hands — from the back of your hand to your knuckles, nail beds, etc. Foaming hand soap is great for kids just learning how to use hand soap in general, as the bubbles make it more fun and help them visually identify which parts of their hands have or haven’t been cleaned yet.
As with all hand soap, it’s critical to use it effectively and wash your hands thoroughly to get the maximum benefits every time. Per CDC guidelines about hand washing, the best way to wash your hands is to lightly wet them, apply soap, lather and wash for 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) and then rinse. This might sound basic, but you’d be astounded at the number of people who don’t wash their hands correctly.
What Makes Soap Foam?
Foaming hand soap gets its specification from, you guessed it, foaming agents known as ammonium lauryl sulfate and sodium dodecyl sulfate that act as surfactants. This means they reduce the surface tension of water and enable it to break up dirt, oil, sebum and other gunk on your skin and wash it away. They are “sulfates” which are chemicals some natural or eco-friendly soap brands try to avoid, however I’ve included a few brands below that are gentle on the environment and also foam when you use them.
1. Softsoap Liquid Hand Soap
Softsoap is a best-selling brand in the hand soap and foaming hand soap categories, as it quickly whips up into a rich lather when you’re washing your hands. This fresh breeze scent is light and refreshing, and the soap is formulated to leave your hands feeling soft as opposed to stripped of all moisture. It’s also a very affordable hand soap at less than $10 for a 6-pack, and is available in four other scents as well.
2. Dial Complete Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap
This is another great foaming hand soap option that’s also antibacterial and designed to kill 99.99% of bacteria during your wash. It’s tough on germs, but gentle on skin with a creamy, rich lather that’s formulated to not dry your skin out. It’s got a fresh pear scent that’ll leave your hands feeling nice all day long.
3. Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap
Mrs. Meyers is a major favorite of mine for hand soap that’s gentle on the environment, isn’t too drying for your hands, and smells great. This lavender scent is very pleasant, and the soap is made with essential oils, aloe vera, olive oil and other ingredients that make it moisturizing and great for cleansing any time of day. This hand soap is paraben free and is made without artificial colors, and none of the brand’s products are ever tested on animals.
4. Method Pink Grapefruit Foaming Hand Soap
Method makes hand soaps with delicious scents that won’t just clean your hands, but will leave them smelling fresh all day. This pink grapefruit one is my favorite, but their “Waterfall” scent is another favorite if you’re looking for a new go-to. The hand soap is naturally derived but foams as well, and is triclosan-free and biodegradable. Sodium chloride acts as a thickener for the very lightweight hand soap, and is derived from an abundance of mineral resources.
5. Aleva Naturals Foaming Hand Wash
BEST FOR KIDS
This foaming hand wash is made for kids with natural and organic ingredients, and is designed to help make life easier for parents with young children. It contains no harsh chemicals for your little one’s hands and the powerful cleansing formula comes from essential oils, botanical extracts and other naturally-derived ingredients that clean away dirt, grime and oil easily. This brand’s formula was made by a pharmacist, naturopath and herbalist who combined their collective expertise and made an excellent, safe hand soap for kids.
6. Softsoap Antibacterial Liquid Hand Soap
Softsoap also makes an excellent antibacterial version of their signature hand soap that’s clinically proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria. The hand soap has moisturizers in it that leave skin feeling soft and it’s pH-balanced to help skin retain its natural moisture. It’s paraben-free, made without phthalates and contains biodegradable ingredients in a recyclable bottle so your impact on the earth is a little gentler. This fresh citrus scent is light and refreshing, and they’ve got a bunch of others to choose from that are also antibacterial.
7. Blueland Hand Soap Starter Set
MOST ECO-FRIENDLY OPTION
Blueland has a whole line of eco-friendly cleaning products that consist of tablets you dissolve in water in reusable containers that create the formulas. This foaming hand soap is made without parabens, phosphates, ammonia, chlorine bleach or other harsh ingredients. The tablets come with delicious scents like Iris Agave, Perrine Lemon and Lavender Eucalyptus, and all it takes is 9 oz. of water to activate them. This starter set comes with their “Forever Bottle” which is a 9oz. glass bottle and three refill tablets of varying scents.
8. Shikai Very Clean Liquid Hand Soap
GREAT FOR DIRT AND GREASE
This mild but strong soap has premium ingredients designed to get grease, oil, dirt and other gunk off your hands quickly. It’s formulated to not dry out your hands even with frequent handwashing, and can be used anywhere — in the kitchen, bathroom, garage and even workshop. It’s made with a combination of pharmaceutical-grade ingredients and botanicals, and has a fresh cucumber scent that’s not too overpowering.
9. Seventh Generation Unscented Hand Soap
If you’re trying to avoid any and all fragrances in your products this soap from Seventh Generation is a great option. It’s hypoallergenic, so if fragrances tend to irritate your skin it’s a great choice. It’s gentle on your hands and designed to not dry out your skin. This hand soap contains no dyes, triclosan, chlorine or phthalates, and is USDA certified to be 97% biobased.
10. Dove Foaming Hand Wash
BEST FOR DRY SKIN
A major complaint against frequent hand washing is that soap can dry out your hands pretty quickly. If you’re already prone to dry hands, the problem can get even worse. Using the right body lotion can certainly help, but you’ll also want to use a hand soap with moisturizing properties in it to minimize effects. This hand soap from Dove is gentle and nourishing. It’s infused with lavender and yogurt and contains five times the number of moisturizers as the leading hand soap brands. It’s alcohol, sulfate and dye-free, and each bottle contains 150 pumps.
Foaming Hand Soap Refills
When you buy your foaming hand soap, you’ll also want to pick up a couple refill pouches so you don’t have to run out and grab more each time the smaller containers dry up. The refills below mostly consist of the brands above and are also a more environmentally-friendly way of replenishing your hand soaps when they run out. Fewer small plastic bottles and fewer trips to the store make these a gentler option for the planet.