Fend Off Germs & Plastic With Zero Waste Hand Soap

Going zero waste or reducing the amount of waste we create can go a really long way in helping to reduce our environmental footprint, all the way down to zero waste hand soap!

Based on what is commonly referred to as the 5 R’s (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot), the zero waste movement also considers what goes inside of the products we use – in our homes and on our bodies – which is also better for the environment and better for us. 

In zero waste cleaning, we learn to avoid toxic or potentially harmful ingredients. Relying instead on safer alternatives like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, lemon juice, and essential oils. The premise is the same for the things we use on our bodies. 

From zero waste toothpaste to organic body wash, we want to make sure everything we use is as safe on us, as it is on the environment. This is definitely quite the task for many of us! But, that’s why I’ve put together a list of some of the best zero waste hand wash soaps around! 

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Why make the switch to zero waste hand soap

Why choose zero waste hand soap basically comes down to two main factors: ingredients and packaging. Just as we consider the ingredients to avoid in skincare, we also look to avoid any harmful ingredients in hand soap. 

Conventional hand soaps typically include chemicals like parabens, a class of preservatives. They are also endocrine disruptors and linked to breast cancer and reproductive health issues. 

Isothiazolinone preservatives are also common and are linked to allergies and dermatitis. Avoiding ethoxylated ingredients is best too where possible because they involve ethylene oxide which is linked to several types of cancer. 

Packaging is always a concern with conventional and eco-friendly products alike, where plastics are ubiquitous and polluting our planet. Zero waste hand soap offers a safer and more sustainable alternative all around.

How we pick the best zero waste hand soaps

If you are wondering how we choose the best zero waste hand soaps, we use our clean beauty criteria as a guide. It considers where the products are made (favoring local ones), the ingredients used (preferably natural and/or organic ingredients), where these ingredients come from and how they are sourced (ethical sourcing), whether they are vegan vs. cruelty-free, the kind of packaging used, whether or not they are palm oil-free, and whether or not the brand and their products are inclusive. 

Though we do consider the difference between organic and natural, we try to make well-rounded choices that work best based on our needs and what is available to us. 

Zero Waste Soap Brands we 💚

1. Etee 

A box of etee's zero waste hand soap. Pin
Image: Etee

One of our favorite zero waste brands, etee offers eco-friendly bathroom products, bath and body essentials, hand soap, and lots more! Their hand soaps come in effective concentrates and are packaged in biodegradable wax pods that are made mostly out of beeswax and tree resin, as well as a few other plant-based oils. 

These wax pods are so cool and 100% compostable, which is why this product is such a great choice for plastic free liquid hand soap. If you’ve read about the difference between biodegradable and compostable products you may be wondering if these pods degrade in landfills, and they do! Etee ensures that the pods biodegrade in a compost environment and at the local landfill if you do not have access to composting. 

In terms of ingredients used in the soap, etee’s liquid hand soap concentrates are made using plant-based cleaning agents and a proprietary blend of essential oils. Options include lemongrass and lavender. 

Not only are these zero waste, but they are also super easy to use! Just add 375 ml (12.5 oz) of water to a dispenser or jar (they have some dispensers for sale too). Open the wax pod over the container you are using and squeeze the soap into the water.

Give it a stir, seal with the lid or cap, and give it all a good shake. Let the mixture sit for an hour before using it so it thickens up and there you go! Plastic free vegan hand soap in zero waste wax packaging! Once you are finished the used pods can go right in the compost. Do snip them to facilitate the decomposition process. 

These are an ingenious way to reduce waste in the home, the soap work really well, it lathers nicely and leaves a light scent. I suggest you give it a good shake before use and when you first add water let it sit for about 1 hour, works like a charm!

2. Plaine Products 

A bottle of Plaine's zero waste hand soap. Pin
Image: Plaine Products

A great option for refillable vegan shampoo and conditioner, Plaine Products also offers plastic free hand soap refills that leave skin feeling clean without drying them out. Made primarily out of aloe vera leaf extract, it is gentle on the skin. No silicone, sulfates, or palm oil here either. For scent, a couple of options are made using essential oils that smell divine. 

In terms of packaging, Plaine Products uses aluminum bottles that can be infinitely recycled without any loss in quality compared to other materials like plastic. Best of all, they offer a take-back program where empties can be sent back to the brand for reuse, using the return label provided. Just make sure to rinse them out first. 

For shipping, recyclable packaging is made from recycled content. Carbon neutral, B certified, cruelty-free, and 1% For The Planet members, Plaine Products is definitely worth considering on the hunt for zero waste hand soap. 

This soap will not leave your hands dry at all. It's got a really good lather and cleans dirty little hands like a champ.

3. Common Good

A bottle of Common Good's zero waste dish soap. Pin
Image: Common Goods

Common Good was born out of great concern for the amount of single-use plastics used and the kinds of ingredients in our household products. It is no surprise then that they would be a great option here. Their plant-based, sulfate-free hand soap is available at refill stations, and online in refillable bottles and refill pouches. 

Find wonderfully scented options as well as an unscented option for those who need or prefer no fragrance. If fragrances are your thing though, their selection smells great but not too strong, thanks to lovely essential oil blends. No phthalates or parabens here either. 

This product is also vegan, cruelty-free, and perfect for biodegradable liquid hand soap. If you are not located near any of their refill stations, the plastic refillable bottle they offer can be reused and the refillable pouches require 83% less plastic than plastic bottles.

The at-home refill option makes using this soap a breeze. It's super soft on the hands, suds really well, and has a light scent. The branding is super minimal- love that- and will look great in your bathroom too.

4. Elva's 

A bottle of Elva's zero waste dish soap.Pin
Image: Elva's

Elva’s is another one of our favorite brands. They offer haircare, skincare, and household cleaning products. Find a great selection of Hand Soap too. It is a hand soap/body wash combo that is 100% plant-based, refillable, pH-balanced, and chemical-free. No parabens, sulfate, SLS, gluten, or animal-derived ingredients either.  

For packaging, several options include aluminum, amber glass, or PET plastic bottle, and a 1.5 liter home refill box. Their vegan and cruelty-free formulations are also available in several scents that smell great thanks to some essential oils and plant extracts. 

In terms of values, Elva’s believes that choosing better products is not just about being organic and natural, “it's about putting an end to buying and selling products manufactured with ingredients that are scientifically proven and known to cause harm”. We couldn’t agree more. That’s why we love this brand and its products so much. You may also want to check out their zero waste dish soap

We use A LOT of Elva's products at home. We've talked about them before in the best natural laundry detergent posts, and the zero waste laundry detergent post. Like all of their products, we are in love with the soap. It's sudsy, very gentle on the hands, and smells divine too with the soft tones of thieves and thyme. A great quality product and a great price too!

5. Ethique 

A bar of Ethique's zero waste hand soap. Pin
Image: Ethique

Ethique offers hand wash concentrates in blocks that dissolve in water and we absolutely love this idea too! Designed for use in the kitchen or the bathroom, this hand wash is effective, gentle on the skin, and non-drying. Find several options including a hydrating formulation, an invigorating formulation, and a refreshing formulation. 

For packaging, a plastic-free box that is certified compostable and carries a 350g bottle’s worth of liquid hand wash. Ingredients used are all ethically sourced and naturally derived, including jojoba oil and essential oils. No parabens or palm oil here.

To use, snap the block into pieces and place it in a heat-proof container. Pour 300ml of boiling water over the pieces and whisk until melted. Let stand for 5 minutes to cool and then pour the mixture into the container where your now liquid hand wash will live so that it may cool completely. Don’t be afraid to give it a shake as needed. We got the hang of it really quickly! This product is also cruelty-free and vegan.

6. eco+amour 

eco + amour zero waste soap containers. Pin
Image: eco+amour

eco+amour’s liquid hand soap is made from plant-based and organic ingredients. It is biodegradable, free from palm oil and synthetic fragrances, and smells great! Even better, the option to have your e+a hand soap delivered in a mason jar (for a small deposit that will go a long way toward reducing carbon emissions and waste!). 

If you are not located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), no biggie. Eco+amour ships across Canada and the US for a flat rate. For those who are in the GTA, consider curbside pick-ups (which are always free!). They also offer a local delivery option. 

A brick-and-mortar refill boutique, eco+amour really focuses on beauty and personal care products. That said, they also know how it is important that refillable products be gentle and non-toxic. In their own words: “We take great pride in ensuring that all of the brands we feature in the store are truly green and that their corporate ethos is in line with that of ours”. 

We've visited them many times and use a lot of their products at home, all of which are effective, safe, and super-natural when it comes to formulations. These definitely save us the most money when it comes to cleaners. The hand soap, like all their products, are both good for our skin and the planet too!

7. Blue Land 

A bottle of Blue Land's zero waste dish soap.Pin
Image: Blue Land

Blue Land’s Natural and Non-Toxic Foaming Hand Soap also comes in a concentrated formula that eliminates the need for single-use plastics. Their tablets dissolve in water to create a liquid hand wash, made from plant-based ingredients that are safe for us and for the planet. 

Since the tablets are so small, they take up to 10 times less space than traditional bottles and refills—saving money and our precious resources! Packaged in a compostable paper, their tablets are available in several scents, without phthalates or phosphates, parabens, ammonia, VOCs, or chlorine bleach. 

This hand soap is also vegan, Cradle to Cradle Certified™, Leaping Bunny certified, EPA Safer Choice verified, and hypoallergenic. Find more eco-friendly cleaning products like dishwasher tablets here too. 

We enjoyed using these, the tablets dissolved with no issue, and we used hot water. We found the scents just right, not too overbearing at all, and our hands were left feeling hydrated. They take up minimal space, which we love too and with over 15,000 reviews, we think you'll be into them too!

8. Unscented Co

A bottle of Unscented co's zero waste dish soap.Pin
Image: Unscented Co.

Unscented Co. is a woman-owned brand offering take-home bulk options and in-store refill stations for all sorts of household essentials, including hand soap. If you are shopping online, check out their hand soap packaged in glass. It is fragrance-free, dye-free, and paraben-free. Especially worth considering for those with sensitivities. 

In fact, everything at Unscented Co. is… unscented of course! And, to make their products, the brand only uses natural ingredients. A certified B corporation, they are committed to better practices and “aspire to meet the highest standards of verified performance, transparency, and accountability, taking into account workers, [their] local community and the environment”.

The hand soap is also certified Leaping Bunny and Made in Canada. If you are located in the US, no worries! You can have the products you’d like shipped right to your door. 

We love all of their products so much. The hand soap is super light and foamy, it's soft and gentle on hands (really good for sensitive skin) and leaves no residue behind. We also love their zero waste laundry detergents and their zero waste dish soap, highly recommend all their products they are all gentle, moisturizing, and offer excellent value!

9. Smiles Boutique

A bunch of zero waste hand soap bars. Pin
Image: Smiles

Smile Boutique’s natural vegan bar soap is a great option if you are looking for zero waste biodegradable hand soap. It is 100% natural, fragranced using essential oils, and handmade with lots of care and attention to create these beautifully designed soaps you may prefer to keep for decorative purposes. 

Their selection includes scents like orange coffee and lavender, along with other inspired combinations like ‘moon’ and ‘dream’. 

Find lots of other zero waste essentials here too, such as konjac sponges (which make great eco-friendly loofahs), bamboo cotton buds, bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste, biodegradable floss, and more.

10. A Drop in the Ocean

A tube of Drop in the Oceans zero waste hand soap. Pin
Image: A Drop in the Ocean

A Drop in the Ocean’s Hand Soap Powder Refill is a great option for zero waste hand soap. The refill is packaged in an aluminum tube which can be easily recycled curbside. If you don’t have a bottle at home they also offer the option to purchase a glass container (with a plastic pump) which can be reused with their refill or any refill of your choosing. 

Ingredients are all plant-based and non-toxic. And for the scent, several options include sea salt + agave, as well as an unscented option. In an effort to offer an all-around sustainable product, A Drop in the Ocean also ships its items in reused shipping boxes and envelopes which we love. In their words: “You may not get an IG-worthy unboxing, but you will get the most sustainable packaging we can possibly find.” Use code ECOHUB for 15% off your first order.

11. Earth Hero 

If you are looking for a zero waste online store this is a great place to consider. While they offer a variety of sustainable products that are not all plastic-free, you will find a wide selection of carefully curated zero waste products that ship plastic-free. 

For hand soap, Earth Hero offers a liquid option in recyclable packaging (with a plastic pump), as well as bar soap options packaged in recyclable and compostable packaging (with many scents to choose from). 

A carbon-neutral B corporation, Earth Hero carefully selects all of the products featured on their eco-friendly online marketplace. Their goal is to make buying responsibly second nature. Here you will find everything from zero waste hand soap and laundry detergent sheets, to plastic-free storage containers and tech products. 

Final thoughts

From refill stations to innovative formulations and packaging, there are several brands worth considering for more sustainable, zero waste hand soap – and we really hope you love what you find here. With lots of scented and unscented options to choose from too, zero waste hand soap may even be a wonderful solution for more eco friendly hand soap even if we aren’t zero waste. 

In the process of building a zero-waste kit? Be sure to drop by our brand directory for a solid list of zero waste & plastic-free brands to choose from!

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