How to Make Liquid Hand Soap

How to make liquid hand soap tutorial

I began making my own liquid hand soap because I was trying to avoid products with triclosan* in them, and after spending $20.00 on the equivalent of 1-gallon of liquid hand soap that was free of fragrances and nasty chemicals, I decided there had to be a less expensive alternative. The best part? This is really easy to make and you won’t need lots of ingredients or need much space to store the soap once it’s made.

How to Make Liquid Hand Soap

This liquid hand soap is easy to make and I don’t worry if there’s a spill. After all – it’s soap!

Organic chemical free soap

Materials needed for making liquid hand soap

  • Clean and empty 1-gallon jug (this can be a rinsed out milk jug)
  • 1 bar Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap – (I use peppermint but any Dr. Bronner soap will do)
  • 2-Tablespoons glycerin – available at drugstores (Walgreen’s doesn’t carry it and at Rite-Aid  they have it behind the pharmacy counter so you have to ask for it. It’s also available as “vegetable glycerin”, and is non-gmo, from health food stores)
  • 1-Tablespoon olive oil – (this doesn’t have to be fancy but whatever you cook with)
  • Large pot (needs to hold at least 1-gallon of water)
  • Cheese shredder
  • Large spoon for stirring
  • Funnel for pouring liquid
  • Several empty hand soap dispensers

How to make liquid hand soap

Directions for making liquid hand soap

  1. Fill 1-gallon container with tap water.
  2. Shred bar of soap – use a hand-held cheese shredder.
  3. Add 4-cups of water from the 1-gallon, tap water filled container and place in large pot.
  4. Place large pot with 4-cups of tap water on stove and set to medium.
  5. Add shredded soap to pot and mix.
  6. Add 2-Tablespoons of the glycerin and 1-Tablespoon of the olive oil to pot and simmer and stir until soap has dissolved. This takes about 5-10 minutes depending on stove setting, but don’t let it boil over.
  7. Once soap has dissolved, remove pot from stove and add remaining tap water from 1-gallon container.
  8. Stir all contents of large pot until well combined.
  9. Let mixture cool slightly.
  10. Stir contents again and using a funnel, carefully pour liquid soap into several empty soap dispensers.
  11. Pour remaining soap mixture into the empty 1-gallon container, for later refills.

Melt shredded bar soapNotes to making liquid hand soap

  • While the mixture will look “separated” once you’re done, the soap will cloud up as it cools. Give it 24-hours to look white, thick and store bought.
  • Don’t let it cool completely in the large pot. It is too hard to work with and pour. I did this the first time I made it and it was a huge problem to get the soap from the pot into the dispensers.
  • When you refill your soap dispensers with the extra soap in the 1-gallon container, make sure to shake the soap first. It will “glub, glub” out of the container in big amounts and not get into the dispenser if you don’t shake it first.
  • When using the hand soap in your bathroom or kitchen, you may need to shake the container first, if it has separated.
  • Use enough soap to really get a good lather. There’s more effort needed to get a good, soapy lather with this soap compared to store bought brands. I figure we’re getting our hands extra clean!
  • The cost for this project? Less than $4.00. Find the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap on sale and you’ll spend under $3.00. Compare this to the Triclosan free product you’ll buy at any health food store.
  • Save your current soap dispensers! That’s another “saver” in all of this – by making your own hand soap, you’re not producing more waste when buying liquid hand soap dispensers at the store.
  • I tired different brands of soap with this but was not happy with the results. Dr. Bronner’s worked well and if you can’t find at your store, they do sell it on-line.
  • Olive oil? Really? I know this is a strange ingredient in soap but it really helps in combining the ingredients. The first time I made it I didn’t use olive oil in the soap and it was super-stringy.

Liquid hand soap how to copyLiquid hand soap is easy to make and easy to clean up if you spill. There aren’t lots of ingredients and you don’t need much space to store the soap. Get together with a friend or make some to give as gifts. It would make a lovely gift but please do use a gingham ribbon.

Have you tried making your own liquid hand soap? Do you have a recipe you like?

Go Gingham related links:

Cute and clean for the kitchen: make a baking soda shaker for soaking those stubborn pots and pans
The mop cover is a re-purposed t-shirt: how to make a mop cover
Why I use an inside laundry line and not an outside laundry line
How to install an inside your home laundry line my son helped me install ours

More related links:

Being an informed consumer and reading the ingredients is important for any products we buy and not just food. Before purchasing almost any consumer products, I check the Environmental Working Group website. It’s my resource for consumer health products and lists what’s in our cleaning supplies and laundry detergents. They also share which ingredients have been banned in other countries, but not here. They rate the products based on their ingredients. It’s important to note that the EWG does not endorse any products or brands. I am not associated with them but I really like the work they do.

Here’s what Environmental Working Group says about….

*Triclosan & Triclocarban: Antimicrobial pesticides in liquid soap (triclosan) or soap bars (triclocarban), very toxic to the aquatic environment. often found as contaminants in people due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan disrupts thyroid function and reproductive hormones. American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say that soap and water serves just as well to prevent spread of infections and reduce bacteria on the skin. Overuse may promote the development of bacterial resistance.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post and have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC’s guidelines.

20 thoughts on “How to Make Liquid Hand Soap

  1. I have read and re-read this recipe, but I’m just not seeing how much glycerin or olive oil to use. It is early in the morning, though, so it’s probably just me – could you clarify these amounts for me? I really want to try this, although I can guarantee Jeff is going to roll his eyes!


    1. Sorry, Erin! I added those amounts and it wasn’t your early morning eyesight! Thanks for the heads up…
      Can’t wait to hear how yours turns out and what flavor of soap you go with.


  2. AWESOME Sara!!!! I am going to do this!

    Funny story – I have been using actual bars of soap lately instead of buying expensive liquid soap and one my son’s friends actually asked how to use it!?! He thought he was supposed to scrape some of the soap off and wash his hands that way. Can you believe that a bar of soap would be so unusual?!?


  3. Hi Sara,

    I’m hoping to try this out this weekend. Where do you buy your Dr. Broner’s Castile Soap? Is it available locally or do you have to do mail order? I am thinking of trying it with Ivory soap this time. Do you think that will work? I’m excited to give it a try.


    1. Kristen, check health food stores. Otherwise, I would order it on-line. I did’t try Ivory soap but you could try it? Not sure if it would work out the same….so excited for you to try it!


      1. Sara, I did try it with Ivory. It worked fine but does not have much scent. I am hoping to try the Dr. Broner’s Castille Soap next time. The peppermint scent sounds wonderful.


  4. Awesome! That’s my favorite soap! I buy it at Sprouts, but have also seen it at Target recently. I am totally going to try your recipe next week (when I get some extra time). I love Dr. Bronners Peppermint Soap. It smells so good, and doesn’t leave any kind of residue. Will let you know how my soap turns out.


    1. Hi MTDB,
      With the liquid castile soap, you can use that as is. I like to add a few Tablespoons of water to mine so that it’s not quite so thick but you don’t have to do anything to the liquid soap. Well, I take that back…you have to put it in a hand-soap dispenser and then use it. How easy is that?! 🙂


    1. Rita, you’re in luck! There are many stores around that carry the soap. Check your local Fred Meyer in the “health” or “natural” section and they’re sure to carry it. New Seasons and Whole Foods also carry it and Mars (comment below) mentioned that they’ve seen it at Target. It’s showing up more often….Can’t wait to hear how it turns out. 🙂


  5. I use the liquid castile soap as well. I pour it with some water into a foaming soap dispenser I have bought and saved. This helps get up the lather. I used to get the soap cheap at National Wholesale Liquidators in NJ but now buy it for more money at either MOMs or Trader Joe’s in MD where grocery prices seem to be much higher. I just bought some freetrade Black African Soap and that seems to work just as well.


  6. Have you tried using essential oils for scent? I want to make some lavender soap that really smells lavender-y. I’m thinking that essential oils are my best bet??


    1. Definitely try it but much like horseradish in a recipe – start with a little and add to it. I’ve added too much essential oils to things in the past and have been sorry. A little goes a long way. Essential Oils on Hawthorne is my favorite shop for oils. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear how it turns out!


  7. I am having trouble finding glycerin, other than glycerin suppositories! I’ve checked Target and CVS, and you said Walgreen’s does not have it. I don’t have a Rite-Aide near me. Any other ideas? And do you buy a large amount, small bottle, and how much does it cost?

    Thanks, I’m excited to do this.


    1. Hi Carolyn,
      I found it at Rite Aid but had to ask the pharmacy counter because they keep it behind the counter. (Not sure why?) Try a health food store in the “wellness” or “beauty” section because that’s also where I found it.
      The containers I’ve bought have been 8ounces and 16ounces. I hope that helps! I’m making another batch tomorrow. 🙂


  8. Ah, Sara! You just keep impressing me with your tips & tricks! Thank you so much! I also read a blog called Zero Waste Home and have climbed on-board that bus to a degree (so that we are using less packaging). Making my own hand soap is brilliant as the paper wrapper that the soap comes in is significantly less waste (and possibly even recyclable) than a plastic refill bottle/bag.


  9. I finally got around to trying this project today. Added about 1/8 oz. essential lavender oil (and ten drops at a time is a slow way to get to 1/8 oz., let me tell you!). Still maybe not quite as lavender-y as I might like, but since I’m giving some of it as gifts, I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming for others. Excited about this super simple project!


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