I started making my own foaming hand soap pretty early in my switch to a more natural lifestyle. With concerns over antibacterial ingredients in many hand soaps and potty-training little ones who found the need to wash their hands/arms/the counter with soap a thousand times a day, I needed a healthy and frugal option.
Thankfully, there is a natural, homemade and incredibly simple option that works just as well and doesn’t cost $3.59 a bottle like the foaming versions at the store.
The recipe itself is literally so simple that I now have my six year old refill the bottles and it takes just seconds to make. I keep the few simple ingredients on hand and we never have to buy hand soap or worry about running out…Surprisingly, this foaming version also makes a decent shaving cream in the shower…
Before you begin, you’ll need a foaming hand soap container. I originally ordered this pretty but pricey foam dispenser online before I realized that there was a much more frugal and inexpensive option: Buy a bottle of foaming hand soap, pour it out if it isn’t natural, and reuse after the soap is used up.
DIY Foaming Hand Soap Recipe
- 12 oz water (distilled or boiled is best if not being used within a few weeks)
- 2 TBSP castile soap
- ½ tsp olive oil (or almond oil)
- essential oil (optional)
- Fill the soap dispenser with water to within about 1 inch of the top.
- Add at least 2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap to the water mixture. NOTE: do not add the soap first or it will create bubbles when the water is added.
- Add the oil and any essential oils if you are using them.
- Close and lightly swish to mix.
- Use as you would any regular foaming soap.
Do you make your own soap already? If not… will you start now? Share below!
Discussion (290 Comments)
Ronda Ryan Colavito
I’m so excited you posted this. I was thinking about making my own foaming soap and hadn’t gotten around to finding a recipe. If I wanted to use it as body soap, would you recommend adjusting the ingredients at all?
I use liquid castile soap and coconut milk (equal parts) for a body wash, I love it. I use Dr. Bronners mild….that with the coconut milk gives it a very light fresh scent that isn’t drying.
Ronda Ryan Colavito
Thanks! I’ll give that a try.
how long is it good for?
I keep my last bottle in the shower. It lasts me about a month before I run out…I don’t know if it would last longer.
Just a q– coconut milk from the can or the carton in the fridge? Thanks!
Can’t wait to try it. Just switching over to more natural products. Love your site. I’ve found tons of useful information.
Marci Carley Mitchell
Your website is awesome! Ran out of foaming hand soap this morning and sure enough, there’s a recipe on here for it! Thanks! Makes me feel that one day I might be free of WalMart! lol
I just made this soap and put it in my handmade mason jar dispenser! This is the creamiest foaming soap I’ve ever used! Thanks a bunch!
is your mason jar dispenser for foaming soap or regular hand soap?
how do i make this soap antibacterial?
I use a different recipe but I use a few drops of tea tree oil for the antibacterial properties.
Do you become immune to the tea tree oil? I have been using dr. bronner’s hemp/tea tree liquid soap in a pump dispenser for a long time, it does dry my hands out a lot, so I am trying to figure out a better hand soap option. Why would I want a foam soap rather than a liquid soap? I need to find an easy hand soap for frequent use that is moisturizing. I like the tea tree for it’s antibacterial property, but maybe using it all the time is not a good idea? Thanks for any help.
After making this, how long is it good for in the dispenser? I can’t wait to try this! Thanks 🙂
I have been using this method for a year, I use Dr Bronners peppermint scent and add vitamin e and sometimes coconut oil. I also use the food coloring in liquid to give it color for the different decor. Up to two weeks
Doesn’t the coconut oil harden and clog up your dispenser (unless it stays warm)?
it shouldn’t, but it depends on the temp in your home. You could try some Vit E oil instead! Good for the skin and won’t harden.
You could use fractionated coconut oil if you are worried about it hardening. Fractionated CO is liquid at all temps.
I love this soap recipe but keep having a problem with the dispenser. The pump is not recoiling (you have to pull it back up). I have bought two different foaming soap dispensers and it happened with both within a few days of making this soap. I have 2 little ones and it’s difficult for them to pull the pump back up every time. Any suggestions?
Add more oil… it is just the soap sticking…
Where is a good place to buy essential oils that aren’t pricey?
Katie - Wellness Mama
I get mine at https://wellnessmama.com/go/mountain-rose-herbs/
Mine is doing the same thing. Added more oil and no improvement.
Could be the lid is tightened too much. Like with baby bottles & water bottles, sometimes if the lid is too tight it won’t let enough air in and even out pressure for suctioning contents out. Downside is if you have to loosen too much it could leak if turned on the side.
I have the exact same problem with the pump getting stuck. I made liquid soap from a natural bar soap, which is quite goopy/jelly, but works alright in a regular soap dispenser, but in the foaming dispenser, the pump gets stuck… I ended up dumping it out of the foaming pump and now I might have to go back and try again but add some oil??
You need to add water. The kind of soap that works in a traditional hand soap dispenser needs to be watered down by at least half to work in a foaming one.
Just made this using, Bronners castille peppermint liquid soap, sweet almond oil, and lemon lime essential oil. After a couple of pumps it had dried my hands out terribly. Anyone know what to add – take out to make it less drying. Thanks
Not all the people responds equally to olive oil soap.
I have found that for some people high percentage olive soaps can clean too deeply the skin drying it out.
I prevent that using 30% olive oil, 25% sunflower, 5% castor and 40% palm, yes, palm… I am from Costa Rica and we have very good laws protecting the workers and environment and the lands have decades with the same palm trees that were planted for rebuilding the economy of agricultural little towns that collapsed after the big banana companies left the country and thousands of unemployed people, in other words no orangutans in danger (we don’ t have them anyway) The castor has to be added after trace and it will be very moisturizing.
Thanks for the heads up about Palm Oil in Costa Rica! Congratulations to your country for having a truly sustainable product. As a conscious consumer I’m always on the look out for products grown sustainably. Also, thank you for the additional ingredients to the recipe.
My girls have trouble with the peppermint & citrus soaps making their hands exceptionally dry. I use almond, rose, or lavender Dr. Bronner’s and they haven’t had any more problems. I don’t add the oil either, just the soap & water and it works just fine (used the same dispensers for over a year).
Lemon, (& most citruses) is a degreaser so it will strip all of the oil from your hands. That’s why it is used regularly in laundry and dish soap. Also, citrus oils are predominately made of monoterpenes which are prone to oxidation and become skin irritants when that happens. Peppermint has menthone, a ketone, which is a skin irritant in large amounts, or if a lower grade is used. Adding some skin nourshing essential oils comprised of alchols, esters, and other ketones will help to avoid these issues….think Lavender, Rosewood, Myrrh, etc., like you you. Adding a skin soothing carrier oil will help prevent these problems as well.
Hi. I have heard that Jojaba Oil is GREAT for eliminating dry skin (hands). I get dry hands so so bad in the winter esp if I have em in water too often. So I’m currently making my first NON TOXIC foam soap! Although I have coconut oil, I realized I need Jojaba oil too to take care of my dry hands:-)
I make my own liquid Castile soap from a bar and when mixed in the dispenser it is getting gel like. It does not do it in any other dispenser and I have a few. Just the method foaming dispenser – the gel seems to be clogging it. I tried a lesser amout of Castile soap and the same thing. Any suggestions?
I’ve never tried with homemade liquid soap, so I’m not sure, but that sounds like it is the problem…
I have made my own liquid Castile soap from eco-friendly websites, and mine too gels. I kept mine in large Ball jars and now can’t get it out to put it into dispensers. Not sure why this is – none of the recipes seem to come with that warning or how to reverse the gelling.
I make my own liquid Castile soap and added some to test in a foaming soap dispenser and had no issues, might be that your soap is not this enough for the dispenser, not real sure though.
maybe dumb but i guess im sort of a weirdo about the antibacterial. i guess what im saying is that if the potty training kids dont wipe well and it gets on their hands how does this soap kill the ecoli? thats the only reason i wouldnt make it.. i like hand soap that kills germs well. or does this too?
Studies show that proper washing for at least 20 seconds with soap does just as well as antibacterial soaps without the risks 🙂
been saying this for year ANTIBACTERIAL HAS TO MANY CHEMICALS, ‘SOAP” AND 20 SECONDS TO 25 SECONDS, works the best,
Most-if not all- citrus essential oils have natural antibacterial properties…as well as many other essential oils. So, adding a lemon or wild orange EO would smell nice as well as be beneficial for knocking out germs…
I’m a single dad raising my 10 year old son. We bought SoftSoap Antibacterial from costco. used it for years. Every winter my son’s hands cracked, chapped bright red and painful. His doctor recommended petrolium jelly. We used it and it worked. THEN I READ THE INGREDIENTS on the SoftSoap huge jug from costco. BAD BAD BAD! We started using Doctor Bronners bar soap in the shower and Doctor Bronners liquid Castille soap from Trader Joes in a diluted form for liquid soap. Guess what? NO chapping, cracking redness or pain and NO PETROLEUM JELLY. READ YOUR INGREDIENTS ON ALL YOUR FOOD AND BEAUTY PRODUCTS! DO RESEARCH! MOST OF IT IS TOXIC POISON!!
i know this post is old but wanted to let you know that using antibacterial soap for a long period of time, 3 months or more makes you become immune to it…so it isnt doing any good anyway, all you are doiongis adding chemicals you dont need. Its like taking antibiotics for too long, they stop working and cause harm.
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