The 14 Best Antibacterial Body Washes That Are Tough on Odors and Soft on Skin
Dotdash Meredith and Yahoo Inc. may earn commission or revenue on some items through the links below.
Dermatologists helped us find the top options from Dove, Irish Spring, and more
Medically reviewed by Jonathan Valdez, RDN, CDCES, CPT
As you’re scanning bottles of shower gel on the shelf, “antibacterial” probably isn’t the word you’re looking for. But antibacterial body washes can be a great addition to your regular shower routine, especially if you deal with body odor or body acne after working out.
Antibacterial body wash is exactly what it sounds like: A body wash formulated to help kill the bacteria on your skin’s surface. Unlike traditional soap, it may also contain antimicrobial or antiseptic ingredients, says Amy Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and author based in Miami, Florida. If you’re an active person who sweats regularly, using an antibacterial body wash can help unclog your pores, stopping body odor and body acne before they start.
As with any new skincare product you plan to use regularly, you should always consider a body wash’s ingredients before you buy. This is particularly true if you have sensitive skin or allergies, as antibacterial body washes can sometimes be harsher on your skin and cause it to dry out.
To find the best antibacterial body washes, we consulted dermatologists Chacon and Harikiran Cheruki, MBBS, MS, MCh for their expert guidance. We also had a certified personal trainer from our Review Board review this article for accuracy and the best way to evaluate a body wash's ingredients. Whether you work out daily or you’re just looking for a deeper clean, our top picks are effective and expert-approved.
Best Women’s Overall: Dettol Anti Bacterial pH-Balanced Body Wash
Good for sensitive skin
May be slightly drying for some
Dettol’s Anti Bacterial pH-Balanced Body Wash, Sensitive, is dermatologist-recommended, safe for sensitive skin, and budget-friendly, making it a clear choice for our top overall pick. Harikiran Cheruki, MBBS, MS, MCh, a dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and the medical head of ClinicSpots, says Dettol is known for making high-quality antibacterial body washes and specifically recommends their Sensitive version.
A light foam body wash that comes in a convenient pump, we love that it’s pH-balanced to help soothe your skin and contains glycerin for hydration. Plus, users appreciate the soft lavender scent.
At around $0.55 per ounce, Dettol’s Anti Bacterial Body Wash is also more budget-friendly than other options on our list, making it a great option if you’re not sure where to start. However, some users have found that it can be a little drying, so you may want to follow it up with a thick, moisturizing body lotion.
Price at time of publication: $30 for 2
Key Ingredients: Sodium laureth sulfate | Size: 21.1 ounces per bottle | Scent: Lavender and white musk
Best Men's Overall: Dove Men+Care Body Wash Skin Defense
Won't dry skin out
Can also be used on your face and hands
Fragrance may irritate sensitive skin
Dove’s Men+Care Body Wash, our other top overall pick, also comes highly recommended by Chacon. With benzalkonium chloride as the active, antibacterial ingredient, this gel is designed to help prevent overdrying by locking in your skin’s natural moisture.
We like that this product can also be used as a hand or face wash, making it a versatile body wash that can be used for your entire shower routine. Plus, it's more budget-friendly than some of our other picks, at less than $10 a bottle.
Users note that this gel’s scent is light and refreshing. Just note that the added fragrance may irritate sensitive skin.
Price at time of publication: $7 for 1
Key Ingredients: Benzalkonium chloride | Size: 18 ounces per bottle | Scent: Not listed
Best Budget: Irish Spring Original Clean Body Wash
Can also be used on your face and hands
Paraben- and phthalate-free
Contains artificial colors
Scent may be too strong for some
If you’re on a budget, it’s hard to beat the price of Irish Spring’s Original Clean Body Wash. The least expensive option on our list at around $0.20 per ounce, this gel lathers up to kill bacteria on your body, hands, and face.
Users love Irish Spring’s original scent, which lasts all day long and even makes bathrooms smell better after a shower. But it may be too strong for some. Anyone with sensitive skin will appreciate that this body wash is also paraben- and phthalate-free, although it does contain artificial colors.
If the scent and additives aren’t for you, we recommend VITA VIE’s Antibacterial Body Wash, which is made with organic ingredients and has a lighter lemon scent.
Price at time of publication: $8 for 2
Key Ingredients: Cocamide MEA | Size: 20 ounces per bottle | Scent: Original Clean
Best Natural: VITA VIE Antibacterial Body Wash
Contains certified organic ingredients
Scent may be too strong for some
Defining what a “natural” product is can be confusing. Technically, the term means a product doesn’t contain any ingredients that a company believes are harmful—but this list can vary between brands.
For an antibacterial body wash that’s free from petrochemicals, phthalates, parabens, and petroleum, VITA VIE’s Antibacterial Body Wash is our top pick. This soap contains ingredients derived from nature, and it’s never been tested on animals. It’s also gluten-free and non-GMO, plus many of the ingredients are certified organic.
While the bottle is on the smaller side, we like that the formula works well for all skin types. The lemon scent is a nice change from the many tea tree, eucalyptus, and peppermint antibacterial body washes available, but some users note that it’s overpowering.
Price at time of publication: $15
Key Ingredients: Benzalkronium chloride | Size: 12 ounces | Scent: Lemon
Best for Body Odor: Derma-nu Antifungal Soap and Antibacterial Body Wash
Buy at Allyourbathstuff.myshopify.com
Can also help treat a dry scalp
Derma-nu’s Antifungal Antibacterial Body Wash is another favorite of Chacon’s due to its natural antifungal and antibiotic ingredients, including essential oils. Spearmint and eucalyptus oils help fight body odor for 24 hours, making this soap our top pick for athletes who regularly work up a sweat. And mint hydrates your scalp, to keep dryness and flakes at bay.
It’s also a great product to keep in your gym bag if you plan on taking a quick shower before heading home after exercising. This is because the body wash’s oils can help fight funguses, like athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch, that no one wants to pick up in a shared stall. Plus, we like that the formula is not tested on animals, making it cruelty-free.
While this body wash comes as a set of two bottles, it’s important to note that each bottle is only eight ounces. That means the per-ounce price is higher, making it one of the more expensive products on our list. You may also need to replace it more frequently, since the bottles are on the smaller side.
Price at time of publication: $37 for 2
Key Ingredients: Tea tree oil, mint, eucalyptus, oregano | Size: 8 ounces | Scent: Tea tree and mint
Related:We Tested the Best Women’s Deodorants and Antiperspirants, These 17 Kept Us Dry
Best for Sensitive Skin: Chamuel Tea Tree Body Wash
Ideal for dry skin
Light tingling effect
Scent may be too strong for some
Chamuel’s Tea Tree Body Wash is formulated without harsh chemicals, synthetic dyes, parabens, or synthetic fragrances, making it our top pick for sensitive skin.
In addition to its natural antibacterial and antifungal ingredients, like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and peppermint oil, it also contains aloe vera, plum seed oil, and camphor oil, which help improve your skin’s barrier, lock in moisture, and reduce irritation. This means it’s a good option for those who tend to have dry or flaky skin.
It lathers up easily and is formulated for daily use, although the bottle is on the smaller side. Users like the slight tingling sensation this body wash provides, for that deep-clean feeling. It’s important to note, though, that some find the scent overwhelming.
Price at time of publication: $14
Key Ingredients: Aloe vera, tea tree oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, rosemary oil, camphor oil | Size: 11.8 ounces | Scent: Tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint
Best for Post-Workout Recovery: ORISO Tea Tree Oil Body Wash
No sulfates or parabens
Can also be used as a foot soak
Scent may be too strong for some
Soothing and hydrating, ORISO’s Tea Tree Oil Body Wash is our recommendation for relaxing showers after tough workouts. It’s formulated with 5% tea tree oil, a natural antibacterial and antifungal agent, and can also be used as a foot soak to help reduce bacteria, block odor, and prevent athlete’s foot.
We like that this body wash is cruelty-, paraben-, and sulfate-free. It also contains no artificial fragrances or dyes that may irritate sensitive skin. Plus, it has aloe extract that moisturizes your skin to prevent dryness.
It does have a tea tree scent that may be too strong for some, but a mint version is also available.
Price at time of publication: $18
Key Ingredients: Tea tree oil | Size: 16 ounces | Scent: Tea tree
Related:The 12 Best Body Wipes of 2023
Best for Dry Skin: Purely Northwest Tea Tree Oil & Peppermint Body Wash
Available in two sizes
Moisturizes and fights inflammation
Doesn’t have a pump
Dry, flaky skin needs a gentle, calming body wash that hydrates. Purely Northwest’s Tea Tree Oil & Peppermint Body Wash is our top pick because its active ingredients include natural oils and extracts, like other soaps on our list. But what sets it apart is that it also features camphor, aloe vera, sea kelp, and cajeput extracts to help lock in moisture and fight inflammation.
Gentle on skin but tough on body odor, this cruelty-free body wash also helps prevent acne and athlete’s foot. And we like that it has a balanced pH, like our top overall pick, Dettol’s Anti Bacterial pH-Balanced Body Wash, Sensitive.
While the 9-ounce bottle is smaller than other options on our list, an 18-ounce size is also available if you want to stock up. Users note that the cap, which pops open, isn’t as easy to use as a traditional pump. Still, we think this body wash’s powerful ingredients and soothing relief are worth the minor inconvenience.
Price at time of publication: $20
Key Ingredients: Aloe vera, sea kelp, tea tree oil, peppermint oil | Size: 9 ounces | Scent: Tea tree and peppermint
Best for Acne: First Botany All Natural Tea Tree Body Wash
Has vitamin E to protect your skin’s barrier
No sulfates, parabens, or alcohol
First Botany’s All Natural Tea Tree Body Wash is packed with natural, acne-fighting ingredients like tea tree oil, lavender oil, and eucalyptus oil. It also contains tocopherols, a type of vitamin E that can protect the lipids (natural oils) in your skin and strengthen your skin’s barrier.
Coconut oil, olive oil, and shea butter help soothe any irritation. And we like that the formulation free of common skin irritants like parabens, sulfates, and alcohol, and that it’s not tested on animals. If you’re not a fan of the way tea tree oil smells, a mint version is also available.
However, the oils in this product may not be right for everyone. Depending on how your skin responds to oils in skincare products, you may want to opt for something without them—like our top overall pick, Dove’s Men+Care Body Wash.
Price at time of publication: $19
Key Ingredients: Aloe vera, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, vitamin E | Size: 16 ounces | Scent: Tea tree, eucalyptus
Best for Folliculitis: Almond Clear Face & Body Wash
Can also be used on your face
Also helps brighten and tone skin
May be drying and may irritate sensitive skin
Folliculitis occurs when fungus causes a hair follicle to become infected. For clearing these bumps (or ingrown hairs and other types of acne), we recommend Almond Clear’s Face & Body Wash. This soap contains naturally antibacterial ingredients like almond extract, or mandelic acid, to naturally exfoliate and cleanse the skin. Witch hazel, pomegranate, green tea, and hops help brighten and tone.
We like that it doesn’t contain any fragrances, sulfates, parabens, or dyes. That said, some reviewers note that it feels drying and can lead to irritation. So if your skin tends to be particularly sensitive, it’s a good idea to spot test it first before using it all over.
It is expensive—the per-ounce price is the highest on our list, at over $4.00. Still, we like that it can be used on both your face and body, making it a must-have for your gym bag.
Price at time of publication: $27
Key Ingredients: Almond acid, botanical extracts | Size: 6.7 ounces | Scent: Fragrance free
Best Unscented: LandLSoap Unscented Pure Castile Soap
Multipurpose soap with few ingredients
Sold in bulk
Can also be used on your face, hands, and hair
For a gentle, unscented antibacterial wash, LandLSoap’s Naturally Clean Antibacterial Castile Soap is our top pick. The ingredients are simple: Just olive oil, sunflower oil, citric acid to help adjust the pH level, and benzalkonium chloride (the antibacterial agent).
Vegan and cruelty-free, this basic soap doesn’t have any added fragrance or dyes. If you’d like to give it some scent, you can add a few drops of any essential oil. While the price is higher, this is the only body wash on our list that’s available to buy in a one-gallon container. It’s also intended to be diluted before use, so one purchase goes a long way.
We like that castile soap is a gentle, versatile product that can be used as a face, body, hand, and hair soap, a pet shampoo, and even a laundry detergent. However, since it’s made from sunflower and coconut oils, some users note that it’s not ideal for oily skin.
Price at time of publication: $42
Key Ingredients: Benzalkonium chloride, sunflower oil, coconut oil | Size: 1 gallon | Scent: Unscented
Best Scented: Dr. Lift Antibacterial Body Wash
No parabens or phthalates
Many antibacterial body washes contain ingredients that are strongly scented, like tea tree oil and peppermint. That’s why we love DR. LIFT’s Antibacterial Body Wash, which features a light, citrus fragrance instead. Users note that the scent doesn’t stay on their skin after showering, so it’s a good option if you like sudsing up with nicely-scented products but don’t want to smell your body wash all day long.
The bottle may be small, but at around $1.60 per ounce, this soap is a good value. And given that it’s vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and contains no parabens or phthalates, it’s a solid buy for conscious shoppers and those with sensitive skin.
However, some users note that the cap is flimsy and can be difficult to use—we wish it had a pump instead, like some of our other top picks.
Price at time of publication: $14
Key Ingredients: Benzalkonium chloride | Size: 8 ounces | Scent: Grapefruit
Best with Moisturizer: Dove Care & Protect Body Wash Antibacterial
No sulfates or parabens
Vegan and cruelty-free
Fragrance may cause irritation
Made to protect sensitive skin from dryness and flakes, Dove’s Care & Protect Antibacterial Body Wash is our favorite pick that kills bacteria while it moisturizes. We like the price—at around $0.35 per ounce, it’s one of the more budget-friendly options on our list.
We like that it’s vegan and cruelty-free, without any harsh sulfates or parabens. However, it does contain added fragrance that may cause irritation, unlike other more natural soaps (like Derma-nu’s Antifungal Antibacterial Body Wash).
Sold in a pack of four, a one-time investment can keep you stocked for weeks.
Price at time of publication: $28 for 4
Key Ingredients: Benzalkonium chloride | Size: 20 ounces | Scent: Not listed
Best for Travel: Roots and Herbs Tea Tree Body Wash
Powder packs well
May be too thick for some
Being able to bring your favorite products with you to the gym can be that extra boost of motivation you need to make it to an early workout. We love that this exfoliating body wash comes in powder form—making it easy to toss in your gym bag (or suitcase, if you plan to work out while on vacation).
Pack the whole bag, or divide it up into smaller containers to make it easier to use. While tea tree oil is the primary antibacterial ingredient, we like that this product also contains plant-derived anti-inflammatories and anti-fungals, including curcoma zedoaria, turmeric, and vertiver extract.
The formula is vegan and cruelty-free. To use it, mix a little with water to create a paste. It’s not a gel or cream like other products on our list, and the thick texture may not be for everyone. Still, we love this option if you’re looking for an effective body wash to bring with you on the go.
Price at time of publication: $17
Key Ingredients: Curcuma zedoaria, tea tree extract, wintercherry, shatavari, vertiver extract, tulsi extract, turmeric, margosa | Size: 1 ounce | Scent: Tea tree
How We Selected the Best Antibacterial Body Washes
To find the best antibacterial body wash, we spoke with Harikiran Cheruki, MBBS, MS, MCh, a dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and the medical head of ClinicSpots, and Amy Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and author based in Miami, Florida. They helped us understand which ingredients to prioritize in antibacterial body wash and which to avoid.
Using their expert input on brands and formulas, we then researched dozens of body washes on the market. We read ingredient labels and took price and special considerations (like dry skin or acne) into consideration. We also considered body washes for different purposes, like traveling or recovering after a tough workout. All of this information helped guide our final list of recommendations.
What to Look For in Antibacterial Body Wash
The price of an antibacterial body wash may shift depending on which ingredients it contains, how the brand tests it, and the size of the bottle. It’s possible to find antibacterial body washes that cost under $5. But because many products contain plant extracts, oils, and organic ingredients, it’s not unusual to pay up to $45. Products designed to address specific conditions, like folliculitis, often undergo additional testing and are more expensive.
When comparing prices, consider the price per ounce, not per bottle, as bottle sizes vary widely. In this story, our top picks range from around $0.20 per ounce to $3.73 per ounce. For more savings, consider purchasing your body wash in a pack, rather than ordering a single bottle.
Ingredients vary widely between body washes. But if you know which ingredients are actually antibacterial and which can cause irritation, you can find the product that’s best for you and your skin.
“It’s important to look for products that contain natural ingredients that offer gentle cleansing and antibacterial properties, as these are less likely to cause chemical skin irritation,” Cheruki says. He recommends looking for neem extract, tea tree oil, lavender oils, rosemary, and thyme, natural ingredients that are used in many antibacterial body washes. Cheruki adds that aloe vera and shea butter can soothe irritation and prevent your skin from drying out.
It’s equally important to avoid products that contain ingredients that may be harmful. While there are some ingredients that are known to kill bacteria on contact, that doesn’t mean they’re ideal for your skin.
“Triclosan and triclocarban are the two active compounds to watch out for,” says Chacon. “Triclosan has the ability to mimic human hormones and mislead systems that depend on the thyroid.” According to Chacon, triclosan can lead to side effects like obesity, advanced puberty, cancer, or infertility. (Research has also found a link between triclosan and some of these conditions.) And Cheruki suggests avoiding ingredients that are known to cause skin irritation, like parabens and artificial preservatives.
As with many skincare products, certain antibacterial body washes are formulated for specific skin types or conditions. If you have dry or acne-prone skin, it’s best to look for a body wash that’s tailored to your needs, with moisturizing ingredients your skin will love. Likewise, if you have skin allergies or specific conditions like folliculitis, it’s important to look for products without irritating ingredients that may worsen your symptoms.
But antibacterial body washes may not be beneficial for everyone, Cheruki says. You may want to steer clear if you have eczema, sensitive skin, or allergies to natural oils (like lavender or tea tree oil) to avoid a potentially painful reaction.
The antibacterial body washes on our list are available in a range of scents to suit different preferences.
If you prefer unscented body wash, you may have a slightly harder time shopping. This is because even if fragrances haven’t been added to a product, many ingredients carry their own scents. This is particularly true with natural antibacterial agents, like tea tree oil, mint oil, or lavender oil. However, LandLSoap’s Naturally Clean Antibacterial Castile Soap is our top pick for a gentle, vegan option that contains just a few ingredients (and no fragrance).
If you’re sensitive to artificial or natural fragrances, read each body wash’s list of ingredients carefully to make sure the product doesn’t include any that may irritate your skin.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does antibacterial body wash help with body odor?
Yes, antibacterial body wash can help with body odor. Cheruki explains this is because it helps reduce the number of odor-causing bacteria on your skin. “They also tend to be more effective at removing sweat from the pores in your skin than a regular body wash would be,” he adds.
How often should I use antibacterial body wash?
If you’re an active person, Cheruki recommends using an antibacterial body wash twice a week. Otherwise, once a week is plenty. “Antibacterial products should not be used excessively, as this can limit the good microorganisms on your skin,” Chacon adds. She says that using antibacterial body wash too often can also strip your skin of its natural oils, drying it out.
Chacon emphasizes that when it comes to disease prevention, antibacterial body washes aren’t any more effective than regular soap and water. So while they’re fine to use occasionally, it’s unnecessary to use them all the time.
Can antibacterial body wash be too harsh for sensitive skin?
Sometimes. If you have sensitive skin, read each body wash’s list of ingredients carefully. When trying a new product, it’s best to spot-test on a small path of skin first to see how your body will react before using it all over. You may also want to look for all-natural products that are free of common irritants like artificial colors and fragrances. Stick to using your antibacterial body wash once a week or less to avoid stripping your skin’s protective barrier of healthy bacteria.
Why Trust Verywell Fit
Laura Williams, MSEd, ASCM-CEP, holds a master’s degree in exercise science and has written extensively about lifestyle and health products for more than 10 years. She uses antibacterial body washes regularly after her workouts, as part of her daily routine.
Read Next:We Tested the Best Men’s Deodorants and Antiperspirants—These 11 Work All Day