The 9 Best Soaps For Soft Water, According To Experts

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by Masha Vapnitchnaia
Bustle / Amazon

If you have soft water in your home, you have a lot of options when it comes to soap. “Most everything will work well in soft water,” Stephanie Greenwood, long-time soap maker and founder of Bubble & Bee Organic, tells Bustle. However, soft water does make it harder to rinse soap away, and according to Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., a Board-certified dermatologist and founder of Uptown Dermatology, you should “be mindful of soaps and opt for one that is fragrance-free.” That’s why the best soaps for soft water use gentle formulas that are free from synthetic fragrances and wash away easily, whether you’re bathing, washing the dishes, or doing a load of laundry.

When choosing a soap, it helps to understand the difference between hard and soft water. Hard water contains a high amount of calcium and magnesium, which creates soap scum and requires more detergent to get things clean. “Soft water does not contain the amount of minerals that hard water does, so you will need less detergent to get your clothes clean,” Dr. Mullans tells Bustle. But 85% of the United States has hard water and many manufacturers add chelating agents such as ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) to improve soap’s performance, which can cause skin irritation for some people. With soft water, you can choose a soap that’s free from EDTA and other potentially irritating ingredients. Similarly, soap-free, synthetic detergents are a good choice if your skin is easily irritated. The best ones still “give you loads of lather and a clean rinse,” according to Greenwood, adding: “Organic and natural soaps will work better in soft water than in hard water, so if you're looking for more natural options, soft water is your friend.”

With all that in mind, scroll on for the best soaps for soft water, including body wash, hand soap, and dish and laundry detergents.


The Overall Best Cleansing Bar

This soap-free CeraVe cleansing bar is noncomedogenic and free from parabens and fragrance, though it does contain EDTA. The formula is accepted by the National Eczema Association, so it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin and can be used on the face, body, and hands. The cleansing bar contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help skin retain moisture and maintain its natural barrier. Each bar also contains 5% of CeraVe’s moisturizing cream to hydrate skin. The body bar is an Amazon favorite, with an overall 4.8-star rating after more than 7,000 reviews.

One positive review: “I like the softness and moisture on my skin after using this product. Has just enough foaming to feel clean but no sticky residue left on skin.”


The Derm’s Pick Liquid Laundry Detergent

Dr. Mullans recommends this gentle liquid laundry detergent, which has been specially formulated for sensitive skin and dermatologist-tested. The 100% SkinSAFE product is free from fragrances, dyes, and other potential irritants (though it does contain EDTA), so it removes dirt and odor from your laundry and rinses away clean. Plus, the low-suds formula works in High Efficiency (HE) washing machines.

One positive review: “Arm and Hammer is my first choice of detergent. I especially like the no-fragrance A&H. It's more effective with heavy soil and doesn't irritate my skin. The High Efficiency works really well with our washer and is reasonably priced.


The Best Body Wash

If you prefer a liquid cleanser, this soapless Eucerin face and body wash is an excellent choice since it’s free of fragrances, dyes, and EDTA. It’s also formulated to help skin retain its pH balance, and is designed to rinse clean without leaving behind any residue. Plus, it’s backed by a 4.7 overall star rating on Amazon with more than 4,000 reviews.

One positive review: “I was so surprised at how much lather I got from just a small amount. Leaves you with a great clean feeling and no irritation.”


The Best Hand Soap

This coconut-based castile soap is free of artificial fragrances, dyes, parabens, and EDTA. The soap uses a vegetable fermentation process that actually removes odors like onion, garlic, and fish, making it a great choice for the kitchen. The soap is formulated with coconut and aloe vera to create a creamy, soothing lather, and is safe to use for sensitive skin types. Though this version is scent-free, the liquid soap is also available in Lemon & Eucalyptus, Rosemary & Sage, and a variety pack.

One positive review: “I was looking for something that did not have fragrance, was not anti-bacterial, and this has good reviews. I was not expecting this, but this is the only soap I have ever used that rinses off easily with soft water. That was a nice surprise. I'm sold. We put a dispenser at each sink.”


The Best Facial Cleanser

Another great CeraVe product, this non-foaming facial cleanser has an overall 4.7-star rating on Amazon as well as an incredible 50,000-plus reviews. It’s formulated with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help skin retain moisture and has a non-greasy feel, which is especially important for soft water. The cleanser is paraben-, fragrance-, and soap-free but does contain EDTA. It’s also noncomedogenic and accepted by the National Eczema Association.

One positive review: “I absolutely love this stuff! No more greasy residue on your face after using a typical face wash. This cleaner is light weight and leaves your skin feeling clean.”


The Best Natural Bar Soap

This natural bar soap contains organic turmeric root powder, which has anti-inflammatory properties, and organic turmeric extract and essential oil. Other nourishing ingredients include olive oil, shea butter, and chamomile extract. The soap is great for soft water, EDTA-free, and can be used on both the face and body. While this natural cleanser is gentle, it’s not soap-free and the essential oils leave a fragrance, so it might not be the best for those with very sensitive skin.

One positive review: “This stuff is so good I actually went back and ordered two more! Skin is glowing, smooth, and clear. It’s very gentle and I also love that it removes makeup very well. The smell is very earthy yet refreshing.”


The Best Dish Soap

This gentle dish soap effectively removes grease and residue from your dinnerware while being easy on your skin. The plant-based liquid soap is free of fragrance, dye, EDTA, and other harsh ingredients. It’s also USDA-certified as a 95% Biobased Product and has a 4.7-star rating overall after more than 19,000 reviews on Amazon. However, the soap is not meant to be used with an automatic dishwasher.

One positive review: “Have used this brand for the last couple years. It does a good job of cleaning without leaving any scent on dishes or glassware. It's easy on the hands, too. A little bit makes a nice amount of suds in soft water, and I don't see any spots on the things I wash by hand and let air dry.”


The Best Dishwasher Pods

Also from Seventh Generation, these detergent pods are a great option if you have soft water and use a dishwasher. The pods are free of fragrances, dyes, phosphates, chlorine bleach, and EDTA and are USDA-certified as 78% bio-based. The enzyme-rich formula cuts through grease and food residue, without leaving any spots behind. It’s backed by an overall 4.7-star rating and more than 5,000 reviews on Amazon.

One positive review: “I am a big fan and supporter of Seventh Generation and this is one of my favorite products. It doesn’t leave white residue on your dishes and gives them a good clean without any food left over.”


A Natural Powder Laundry Detergent

The low-sud formula of this laundry powder is free from synthetic fragrance, dyes, EDTA, optical brighteners, phosphates, and other additives. It’s safe to use on all fibers except silk and leather. It can be used with HE washing machines, however, it needs warm water to fully dissolve and go to work. The concentrated formula means each bag should last for about 70 loads. With more than 7,000 reviews and a 4.7-star overall rating, it’s a popular choice with Amazon customers, and you can choose from peppermint, rosé, and unscented formulas.

One positive review: “I’m really impressed with this product. My laundry is cleaner and brighter. I have tried other environmentally friendly laundry products. Molly’s Suds is superior to all of them. I like how little product is needed for an average laundry load. This is saving me lots of money, also!”


Stephanie Greenwood, founder of Bubble & Bee Organic

Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Uptown Dermatology