I’ve always been a compulsive hand-washer, even before hand washing was really, shall we say, cool. With a husband who’s equally obsessed with cleanliness, it seemed like were always running out of soap. Not only is it expensive to stock every sink in the house, but those cheap plastic bottles create a ton of trash, which I always felt guilty about. I know it sounds ridiculous, but learning to make our own foaming hand soap almost felt like winning the lottery. (Almost.)
The beauty of DIY hand soap is that you can ditch all the chemicals, colors and crazy scents. Plus, one bottle of all-natural castile soap fills an almost endless supply soap dispensers, meaning you’ll never run out again.
How to make your own foaming hand soap
You know you’ve officially gone DIY when you find yourself giddily making your own hand soap on a Saturday afternoon. Just 2 tablespoons of castile soap is enough to make 16 ounces of foaming hand soap! Plus it keeps heaps of trash out of the landfill and chemicals out of your home. It’s a win-win-win.
While I used to save leftover plastic foaming soap bottles that I’d then refill over and over, I recently invested in a few glass dispensers that I keep stashed next to every sink. I bought ’em for the looks but I love that they last forever and you can run them through the dishwasher. Alternatively, you can also just purchase some foaming soap pump lids and convert old mason jars into soap dispensers.
As for the soap, I recommend using liquid castile soap. Castile is a plant-based, biodegradable, natural soap that can be used as a base for DIY beauty and household products, as well as on its own as a powerful cleaner.
Because it’s incredibly concentrated, you only need a couple tablespoons to make an entire bottle of foaming hand soap. Dr. Bronner’s is one the more popular brands, but there are plenty of equally green, less-expensive brands to choose from.
Best Essential Oils for Hand Soap
If you like your hand soap scented, you can add essential oils. I recommend using oils that’ll help boost the antibacterial power of your soap, like lavender, tea tree and lemon. But you’re free to use whichever oils you like.
Our recipe calls for 27 drops of essential oil, which is a 3% dilution. Along with lemongrass and ginger, here are a few of our favorite scent combinations:
Floral finish: 10 drops of rose and 17 drops of lemon
Minty clean: 13 drops of tea tree and 14 drops of peppermint
French lavender: 27 drops of lavender
Orange blossom: 12 drops sweet orange and 15 drops vanilla essential oil
Fresh scent: 10 drops of eucalyptus and 17 drops of lemon
Pour Castile soap into bottle. If adding essential oils, add them now too.
Slowly add water into bottle, making sure to leave room for the foaming pump.
Screw on the lid and gently shake the bottle to mix everything together.
To use, just pump one or two times into hands and wash for 20 seconds. Then rinse with warm water.
Foaming Hand Soap FAQ
Can I make foaming hand soap with dish soap?
Any liquid soap should technically work for this. If you run out of castile soap, you can use dish soap, body wash or even traditional gel hand soap. But these types of soap aren’t always as gentle, or as natural, as castile soap, and they may dry out skin.
How can I make moisturizing hand soap?
If you suffer from dry skin, go ahead and add a tablespoon of oil to your foaming hand soap. I like sweet almond, jojoba or sesame oil because they’re light and shouldn’t leave your skin feeling terribly greasy. But use whichever oil you like.
Just remember to shake your bottle of hand soap prior to each use.
Do I need to add preservatives to homemade hand soap?
We go through soap pretty quickly at my house, so I’ve never had an issue with it going bad or growing mold. But this soap is mostly water and mold can become an issue if it’s not used quickly enough. If you’d like to add a preservative, I recommend a natural one, such as grapefruit seed extract.
Will foaming hand soap work in a non-foaming dispenser?
Without a foaming dispenser, your hand soap will be more liquid, than foam. While it will still work to get rid of dirt and grime, it won’t give you the dense foam we all know and love.
Can I add alcohol or some other antibacterial agent to my hand soap?
I wouldn’t recommend it since alcohol is especially drying, especially if you have sensitive skin. But I do recommend adding essential oils for an antibacterial boost. Cinnamon, eucalyptus and tea tree are my personal favorites.
Looking for more ways to use that bottle of castile soap? Here are 6 green cleaning recipes that use castile soap.
Photos by Ana Stanciu
DIY Foaming Hand Soap
- Pour castile soap into bottle. (If you choose to, add essential oils at this time as well.)
- Slowly add water into bottle, making sure to leave room for the foaming pump.
- Add lid, shake, and you are good to go!
- When ready to use, just pump one to two times into hands and rinse with warm water.