Liquid Hand Soap Recipe

Homemade Liquid Hand Soap

We go through a lot of hand soap. A lot. From the diaper changes to the “mom come wipe me”s, there is much hand washing in our house.

Ever the DIYer, I’ve been making foaming hand soap for years, and we still use it daily. The only downside of foaming hand soap is that you need a special foaming pump and these eventually wear out (though this one has been going strong for over a year at our house).

Liquid Hand Soap…

I got enough questions about if this would work as a liquid hand soap that I decided to create a recipe specifically for liquid hand soap. This uses the same idea as my homemade laundry detergent of grating a natural bar soap and melting in water to form a natural gel.

This is not only cost effective (a $3 to $4 bar of premium natural soap will make up to a gallon of soap), but simple and more natural than regular soap.

Is it Antibacterial?

As I mentioned before, I avoid antibacterial handsoaps and other products because of their potential to create resistant bacteria and microbiome changes. Plain soap and water have proven as effective as antibacterial soaps without the risk (source) and this natural version is a simple and cost effective natural soap.

What You’ll Need

What You Need:

What to Do:

  1. Place the bar soap and water into a small saucepan.
  2. Turn on medium heat and stir constantly until soap has dissolved into the water.
  3. Let cool completely and pour into the container you plan to use.
  4. It will take about 24 hours to completely “gel” but it will not be quite as thick as regular hand soap. You can add more grated bar soap to create a thicker soap but it will be more difficult to pump and will not get hands any more clean, so I stick with this.
  5. After 24 hours, shake well to make sure it has gelled completely and use as normal.

What type of hand soap do you use? Ever made your own?

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Reader Comments

  1. Will this clog the soap dispenser like the liquid Dr. Bronners? Love your site!

    • I made this but it clogs my soap dispenser even with me diluting it with more water. Anyone else experiencing this problem?

      • Yes. Ive diluted and diluted and it still gels as a big lump unusable.

        • You cannot dilute it after it sets up. Use less bar soap next time you make it.

        • thought to add Skin So Soft to thin it out. I use to use it for mosquitoes repellent. So I had about 1/4 cup left over. I poured it in with my bar soap. I liquefied it. Next morning totally solid! I”m not one to give up! I’m going to get another bottle and try it again with the same soap. My hands are far more softer and mosquitoes don’t bother my hands ( Pet peeve of mind).

      • I use a foaming hand pump glass bottle dispenser bought at the container store USA-the castile or handmade hand soap doesn’t clog this way – be sure to dilute properly.

      • Try adding a teaspoon of vinegar if it’s too thick to come out of dispenser.

  2. Great Recipe. Thank you so much for posting.

  3. Katie,

    I was JUST wishing you had a liquid soap recipe. Thanks for reading my mind!! ;0) Just curious why you don’t use glycerine? I have seen some with that. Is it possible to add a bit of Shea Butter? if so how? THANK YOU

    • I bet you could add shea butter, although I am not sure if it would separate or not. I’d just add along with the soap and stir until all is dissolved. Let me know how it works out if you try it!

  4. I love this! Thank you so much for posting, it is the best! I added few drops of Orange Essential Oil and it smells and works amazing. It does separate a tiny bit, but I give it a good shake before using. Thank you for all of your amazing wellness recipes!

  5. I guess there’s no bypassing the plastic pump?

    • I use a empty water bottle with a squrit cap. Works great

    • You can get pump lids for mason jars now – they would work great for this soap!

  6. Thanks for sharing this! Buying natural liquid hand soap can get surprisingly expensive. This sounds like a great way to cut costs. I bet you could also add essential oils to give it a nice scent.

  7. Just wondering… why use bar soap instead of just using liquid. Im so lazy about grating and heating the bar soap =)

    • Heating the grated bar soap gives a gelled, thicker consistency.

  8. ive tried so many different bar soaps and it keeps coming out like a slimy snot. I’ve even tried glycerin and salt with no luck. The only one I found that doesn’t is Dove, but I hate using it cus of the SLS. I now use a
    foamer and Castile soap and water.

    • This is what I use, too! I fill a foaming soap dispenser about 10% full of Dr Bronners liquid Castile soap, them fill the rest with water. It may separate a little, but a gentle shake is all it takes to mix it up again. Super easy and cheap!!

      • I love this too!

      • try blending it in a food processor or mixer

      • i kept a 56 fl oz hand soap bottle from equate to add my own home made hand soaps. Does anyone know how many ounces of liquid and for hand soap recipe with a bar, that I would need to use? Thanks.

  9. What I do is use the remnants of a bar of soap that’s practically a sliver and break it into smaller pieces and fill the bottle with lukewarm water to help dissolve the soap.
    Shake before use.
    I reuse the Bed, Bath and Beyond soap foam dispenser, save money on both ends.

  10. Great article/recipe! I made my first batch of body wash from Dove bar soap last month, and I am planning to make a hand soap next. I used Dove soap because that’s what I had on hand, but I will be using Dr. Bronner’s to make hand soap and body wash next. With the Dove, it cost me $1.50 to make 80 ounces (compared to $4 for 24 ounces of the store-bought stuff). Very eye opening experience!

    • What’s the difference between the hand soap and the body wash?

  11. I made this yesterday but just used water from tap. Should I have boiled it first? Do I need to throw out what I made? I used cucumber and calendula soap from the soap works and it is a nice consistency! Made the powdered laundry detergent too, and it is even effective on cloth diapers. Love it!!!

    • The reason to boil the water is just to kill anything in the water so that it does not spoil. It will work fine, it just may not last as long as it otherwise would.

  12. Ok, so boil first let cool, add soap and heat again until soap dissolves? Sorry, mommy brain here 🙂

  13. Can I use a mixture of 3 tablespoons castor oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tablespoon coconut oil? Is it going to be the same effect as with jojoba oil?

  14. Can you tell me how this soap is disinfecting and killing bacteria on my hands, couse I don’t see an ingredient which could do that?

    • You are not supposed to disinfect your hands, you will kill your normal flora which kills bad bacteria!

    • ALL soap will kill bacteria. Soap and water is still the best thing for washing hands. Antibacterial wipes and gels AND soaps will kill both good and bad bacteria. Our world is over-sanitized, which is partly why we have so much spread of disease. Our bodies don’t have enough good bacteria to fight back.

      • I agree 100% Jill. I am a nurse, and when I was in nursing school, we never had antibacterial gels or soaps. We killed germs (bad) with regular soap and water and LOTS of friction. It’s the friction that does the trick.

    • I remember seeing a TV program where they tested antibacterial soap and plain soap and there was NO DIFFERENCE to the level of bacteria left on your hands – surgeons have just ‘scrubbed up’ using plain soap for years before performing operations 😉

      However, the test between soap and just plain water did make a difference as it appears the bacteria are just distributed over the hands rather than being washed off…

    • Um..the soap?
      The soap is the ingredient that gets the germs off your hands

  15. Do you have a good recipe for a hand/body lotion that doesn’t contain coconut oil? I have eczema on my hands only, and it seems that the coconut oil makes it flair up. Is there a chance I have an intolerance, or allery to coconut oil?

  16. My liquid soap turned out to be very slimy – we can hardly wash our hands as it runs away from the hand very quickly – especially with children. After you press the pump and take the soap into your palm, it stretches a lot and makes a lot of mess around the dispenser. What am I doing wrong?

    • This happened with the batch I made a few months ago. I also hated the tacky feeling it left on my hands (although maybe that was the glycerine?) All we had to do was add some oil to jar and wa-la, much better! I can’t give you an exact amount, just add a few “glugs” at a time until you think the consistency is right. We ended up using a mixture of olive and avocado oils because it was what we had on hand in the kitchen, but any stable veggie based oil should do. Only thing to note is that adding the oil might cause the soap to go bad a bit quicker so I wouldn’t make more than about a 4-6mo supply and store in a dark/cool area.

  17. I have collected many bars of soaps. I love soaps. Can I grate these and make liquid hand and body soap using the distiller water recipe. Will these give me the same effect as the original recipe.

  18. Help me!!! This is the second time I’ve tried to make this water + bar soap liquid soap recipe. My soap isn’t gelling at all. It’s just a liquid. So frustrating. Please tell me what I’m doing wrong.

  19. I love every thing i saw here. I will try it

  20. Josie, have you got a response. I haven’t started to make the liquid hand soap but just bought a dr bonners lavendar soap bar…im scared its not going to come out well based on wbat has happened to you.

  21. Josie and Kristy,

    I tried dissolving my bar soap 1 month back before I chanced upon this blog. Mine didn’t gel too. I only used 1oz soap to 500ml water.

    Hope wellness mama can give us some input.

  22. Any suggestions for homemade dish soap (not dish washer-just plain old dish soap). I’ve tried using Bronner’s but it definately doesn’t do the trick. Thank you

  23. My soap did not gel either. I used my home made soap one oz. To one qt water, heated till melted and wated 24 hours…still looks like water. Help, please

  24. Thanks for all of your tips, recipes, and citing your sources! I’ve read many ‘natural’ blogs with some hard to believe claims, and of course they have no sources. It just makes you so much more credible and makes me want to use your blog much more!! Keep on keepin’ on!!

  25. When do you add the essential oil in this receipe?

  26. Hoe long will this stay usable? can you add vitamin e oil to extend the shelf life and how long would it extend it by? Thanks!

  27. I use a melt and pour hemp soap. I’m about to try this with my glycerin based soap and add cannabis oil.
    (50 states legal)
    Cannabis is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial so, this page has me making everything I need to have a clean, green, life!

    • how much cannabis oil? what brand?

  28. Hi Wellness Mama,

    Hope you are well. This is a wonderful post. Simple and easy and healthy. Love it! I also wanted to let you know that I mentioned your article in an article I’ve done this week. I’m with you on green living, particularly anti-bacterial soaps. This is a great replacement.

    Thank you.
    Barbara Charles

  29. This is just what I need – thanks for the post!

  30. I find that adding a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil in addition to water helps not clog the pump up.

  31. I tried this with Kirks Castille soap and it did not gel. Now I just have soapy water. I will attempt the foaming dispenser anyway, but do you know what went wrong?

  32. I found mine did the opposite, just a hard mass that I can’t get out of the bottle once it cooled… 🙁 what can I add to soften its consistency?

  33. I’m trying to find out if harmful bacteria or mold will grow in the things I make homemade whether it’s lotion, liquid soap or laundry detergent. Please advise, thanks!!

    • I have never had a problem with bacteria overgrowth or mold in any of my homemade laundry detergent or salve. Store everything in cool, dry locations, in clean containers, and use clean hands/scoops/utensils if reaching into the containers. As long as you are frequently using your products, and not leaving them to sit, they should last just fine. 🙂

  34. Hey thanks for this should it take forever to dissolve in the water

  35. Got big slimy snot mess. Used exactly the same bar of soap you used. Distilled water and same brand glycerin. What went wrong? Really hoping you have a way to fix this. Would love for this to work.

  36. Call me crazy, but I just used my Salad Shooter to grate 2 bars of soap for a large batch I just made of this soap. It worked great!

  37. I bought a bar of homemade oatmeal soap I’d love to use with this method for a bodywash, could I mix organic brown sugar with the shavings and melt it in with the soap? I feel like the smell would be heavenly but I wouldn’t to add any risk of contamination due to the sugar

    • please do not do this as the sugar will burn the soap

  38. We actually just use plain old dawn ultra dish soap for hand washing. I also use dawn (a few drops) diluted with water in a spray bottle for an all purpose surface cleaner and glass cleaner. Works great, is cheap and easy.

  39. would this work for shampoo? ive made my own soap, and was wondering how to make shampoo…

    thanks!!

  40. I use liquid Castille soap, distilled water and essential oils in a foaming soap pump. Does that work the same as your recipe?

  41. this soap will start to clog aka actually reharded because to really make liquid soap Potassium hydroxide needs to be added

  42. Do you think this would work as a dish soap? I love using it as hand soap!

  43. When I was a kid, we used a bar of soap to wash our hands in the bathroom and the kitchen. Is there anything wrong, health wise, with a bar of soap for hand washing, or does bar soap make your hands dry out more? Or do people just use liquid hand soap because it is less likely to get messy on the counter? I’m not trying to be sassy or anything. I’m really curious. I was in Korea on a trip and lots of bars and restaurants had bar soap in the bathrooms. It didn’t bother me, but my friend was really freaked out about it, so it got me wondering.

  44. I’ve tried your recipe twice now and both times my soap hasn’t gelled at all. Its soapy water. Is there anything I can add to what I’ve made to help it thicken a little bit at least?

    • You can add more of the grated soap or decrease the water to get a thicker soap

  45. Hi! So I’ve made hand soap this way several times. For some reason, this time when I made it, it didn’t solidify. It’s just peppermint-scented water, even after sitting for two days. Any idea why this would happen, or how to fix it? I think I may just have to dump it. 🙁 I used castile soap.

  46. Hi. I need some tips 🙂
    I was thinking transforming this to a liquid handsoap: http://amzn.to/1st72A2

    But isen´t 28 grams of bar soap and 9,4 dl water very much dilluted? Which means, less cleaning effect?
    Have I misread the information? Living in Norway, and maybe has found wrong translating measurments 😉

    Thank you.

  47. This is not a good idea to make. I understand that you do this, and it works well, but as an experienced from scratch soap maker, I have to tell you a few things: 1.) It’s not that hard to make you own soap from scratch.

    2.) MOST IMPORTANTLY: When you grate bar soap, to turn it into liquid soap, you are desaponifying the oils that were used to make the soap, from the lye that was used to make the soap. When you do this, you are usually left with a gooey mess of soap product, and some water, etc. You are then exposing yourself to raw lye, although in small amounts, but it will be terrible for your skin, and will cause dryness, cracking, burns, etc.

    When a hard soap is made, it is made using sodium hydroxide, which hardens the oils as it saponifies it, and thus you are left with hard bar soap. When one makes liquid soap, you use a different form of lye, called potassium hydroxide, which saponifies the oils, but leaves them liquid. Soap making companies DO NOT grate bar soap to sell as liquid soap. They use a totally different chemical to do so. It is impossible to make soap without using some form of lye. Cream soaps are made using a combination of both forms of lye, but done so in a controlled environment.

    I promise, using lye to make soap is NOT difficult, and is very rewarding. Soap companies remove glycerine from their soaps, to resell, as it is very valuable. If you make your own, it is all still there, whether it is a liquid or bar soap.

  48. Hi. I made this for the first time using instructions but it didn’t gel. Could it be because I didn’t use distilled water? I only used tap.

  49. It seems easier to use the liquid Bronner’s Soap instead of grading the bar soap. Is there any reason not to do this?

  50. I want to make a DIY liquid hand soap that you can use in the automatic dispensers. The ones you put your hand under and the soap comes out.
    Is there a good one that won’t clog up the spout? Thanks!

  51. I really like this recipe – I’ve doubled the amount of grated soap, added some tablespoons oil (castile/grapeseed), essential oil, one tablespoon raw honey and is using it for showergel! I use black soap 🙂