Clean Well’s Foaming Hand Washes are nature-based, germ-fighting cleansers that make use of botanical essences in a two new, intriguing ways. First, they feature scents created by the well-known natural perfumer Mandy Aftel of Aftelier. Second, they introduce a component called Ingenium, “a patented formulation of essential plant oils proven to kill 99.99% of the germs that make you sick.”
According to Clean Well’s website, the primary antibacterial ingredient in Ingenium is thyme oil, a natural substitute for triclosan or other chemicals. The other ingredients in the Foaming Hand Wash include aloe, white tea, and oat extract as skin conditioners and — oops! — a dash of sodium lauryl sulfate as lathering agent. The Hand Wash’s fragrance, however, is completely natural. I had a hard time choosing one scent, and in the end I bypassed Lavender Absolute and Orange Vanilla in favor of Ginger Bergamot, in an effort to step beyond my usual floral-sweet tastes.
Real bergamot oil and ginger root oil compose the fragrance of this liquid soap, and they offer aromatherapeutic benefits as well as basic olfactory pleasure. To quote Mandy Aftel’s book Essence and Alchemy, the fruit of the bergamot tree has a “lemon-orange scent” that “lifts a depressed mood without sedating and soothes jangled nerves,” while the rhizome of the ginger plant offers the “warm, spicy odor of the root, with a sweet and heavy undertone” and a “high odor intensity.” The intensity of the ginger is indeed evident in Clean Well’s Hand Wash, nearly edging out the lighter bergamot note. It’s the true smell of freshly grated ginger root, the aroma that a lifetime of so-called “ginger” snaps and “ginger” ale never quite prepare you for: tangy, energetically pungent, and surprisingly mouth-watering.
Clean Well’s Hand Wash is packaged in a plastic bottle with a chunky pump applicator, and it emerges as soft, liquidy foam. It’s far gentler than mass-market antibacterial soaps: it leaves the hands feeling squeaky-clean but not stripped dry and tight. In a nice touch, the label is designed to be peeled off easily (it’s marked “Don’t label me”), revealing the cheerful, clover-green hue of the Ginger Bergamot bottle itself. Effective, freshly scented, and reasonably priced, this product is a happy addition to my kitchen sink area.
Clean Well Ginger Bergamot Foaming Hand Wash sells for $6.99 for 9.5 fl. oz. (280 ml). It is available through the Clean Well website and amazon, and at select Whole Foods and Target stores.