Soap with Clean Ingredients

We use soap several times a day.  It comes in many forms: bar soap, liquid soap and hand sanitizer.  And you probably already know where I’m headed with this:  since you use it several times a day, get the soap with clean ingredients to lessen your exposure to chemicals and ingredients that were unknown to our ancestors. 

Clean soap?  Sounds like a bit of redundancy, ‘eh?  But look at the ingredients in your soap, and you’ll see many items that leave you wondering what they are.

How soap began…

It all started years ago when humans discovered ashes from the fire actually made things cleaner.  I would not have thought of putting ashes in my pot to clean it, but someone did and it worked.  At some point, fat or oil was added and improved the products.

In fact, all soap needs is three ingredients:  an alkali and a fat – and water to boil the alkali.  Our ancestors boiled ashes and added oil or fat to the mix.   Today, whether we are talking about handsoap, or laundry detergent, dish detergent, or other cleansers, it is the same basic recipe.

Photo by Abhay Singh on Unsplash

Comparison of ingredients:

I purchased a handsoap from a commercial manufacturer, which promised the scent of orchid petals and mint water.  It was one of my favorites.  

I looked up information in the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Skin Deep® and other websites.   The EWG-SD program rates the product from 1 – 10, with 1 – 2 being low hazard, 3 – 6 being moderate hazard, and 7 – 10 being higher hazard. 

Let’s look at the ingredients (in order by weight; largest amount first):

  • water
  • sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate:  surfactant, produces foam.  From coconut.  Rated “2” by EWG-SD – limited data (concern for contamination, organ system toxicity)
  • laureth-3:  emulsifier and surfactant. Rated “3” – by EWG-SD – fair data available (concern for contamination)
  • cocomidopropyl betaine: surfactant.  Rated “4” by EWG-SD – good data available.  Overall hazard low to moderately low. (concern for contamination).  Associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis.  
  • sodium chloride – that’s salt, like table salt
  • fragrance – it does not have to be disclosed as to the exact ingredients, and there are over 200 chemicals approved for this category.  Potential allergen or skin irritant.
  • DMDM hydantoin:  antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser preservative. Rated “7” (red) by EWG-SD – limited data. Moderate overall hazard, moderate allergies and immunotoxicity.  
  • citric acid: weak organic acid, found in citrus fruit
  • polyquaternium-7:  anti-static, forms a thin film coating.   Rated “3” by EWG-SD – limited data.  Low overall hazard, contamination concerns.
  • tetrasodium EDTA:  chelating agent used to sequester metal ions to make the solution more stable.  Rated “2” by EWG-SD; low overall hazard, possible occupation hazard.
  • aloe barbadensis leaf juice:  enhances appearance of dry skin.  Extracted from the leaf of the aloe plant.  Rated “1 – 3” depending upon usage.  Caution as human carcinogen only for IF NON DECOLORIZED.  
  • glycerin:  moisturizer.   Rated “2” by EWG-SD, low overall hazard.
  • poloxamer 124:  surfactant.  Rated “2” by EWG-SD, low overall hazard, concern for persistence and bioaccumulation.
  • hydrolyzed silk:  anti-static, binds moisture, provides the most “glide”.  Rated “1” by EWG-SD.  Low overall hazard.
  • Ext. D&C violet no. 2:   colorant.  Cochineal is from insects.  Not rated by EWG-SD due to limited data.  Moderate overall hazard, low cancer concern, moderate allergies and immunotoxicity.
  • FC&C blue no. 1:  colorant.  Rated “3” by EWG-SD; fair data available.  Low overall concern, high concern for persistence and bioaccumulation, moderate concern for toxicity.

I found one that appears healthier; let’s take a look::

  • water
  • sodium cocoyl glutamate:  surfactant.  Rated “1” by EWG-SD.  Low overall concern.
  • polysorbate 20:  surfactant, emulsified.  Rated “3” by EWG-SD.  Low overall concern; high contamination concern.
  • sodium lauroamphoacetate:  surfactant.  Rated “1” by EWG-SD, no data available.  Low overall hazard.
  • wild orange peel expressed:  fragrance, cleanser, purifying agent.  Cold pressed from peel of wild orange.  Not rated by EWG-SD.
  • clove bud oil:  aroma/fragrance, cleanser.  Not rated by EWG-SD.
  • cinnamon leaf oil:  aroma/fragrance.  Not rated by EWG-SD.  May cause skin irritation if used excessively and left on skin over a long period of time.
  • cinnamon bark oil:  aroma/fragrance.  Not rated by EWG-SD.
  • eucalyptus leaf oil:  cleanser. Not rated by EWG-SD.  Caution for possible skin sensitivity.
  • rosemary leaf oil:  aroma/fragrance. Not rated by EWG-SD.
  • phenoxyethanol:  preservative and stabilizer.  Rated “4” by EWG-SD, limited data.  Moderate overall hazard, concern for skin irritation. Occupational hazard. 
  • cetyl hydroxyethylcellulose: moisturizer, emulsifier, cleanser.  Rated “1” by EWG-SD, no data available.  Low overall hazard. 
  • caprylyl glycol:  skin conditioner, some antimicrobial activity.  Rated “1” by EWG-SD, limited data available.  Low overall hazard.
  • ethylhexylglycerin: skin conditioner, weak preservative.  Rated ‘1″ by EWG-SD, limited data available.  Low overall hazard; concern for irritation.
  • hexylene glycol: keeps the essential oils dissolved.  Rated “1” by EWG-SD, fair data available.  Low overall hazard and allergies / immunotoxicity, concern for irritation.  
  • sodium hydroxide:  also known as “lye” made from baking soda, buffering agent to adjust pH.  Rated “3-4” by EWG-SD.  Moderate overall hazard.
  • disodium EDTA: used to sequester metal ions.  Rated “1” by EWG-SD, fair data available.  Low overall hazard.  
  • citric acid: weak organic acid, found in citrus fruit


Both products have good and fair ingredients, representing both low and moderate risk.  And I now know what the ingredients do, which is helpful, because I had no idea.  All the ingredients are approved for use in cosmetics or soap. 

I chose the second cleanser for my home.  I like the scent better and I feel that my family has been afforded additional protection from the properties of the essential oils that have nothing to do with cleaning my hands.  The oils may have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, which may help us in cold and flu season.

My preferred soap can be found here:

The essential oil link is to the left side of the page; once on the doTerra site, search for OnGuard Foaming Hand Wash.

That’s right.  I like it so much that I sell it.  We have it by every sink, and I want you to as well.