Homemade Hand Soap Recipe – All Natural

One of the best way to maintain a clean, healthy home is by preventing the spread of germs and bacteria. Washing your hands is the number one way to do this. Unfortunately, most of the hand soaps on the market today contain ingredients that dry hands out or worse, contain chemicals that can harm us. On top of that these hand soaps cost anywhere from $2-$5! To buy an all natural safe alternative is even more expensive. But, it doesn’t have to be.

This recipe can be made for less than $1.50 and it refills a soap dispenser 6 or more times. That is 25 cents a bottle!

Homemade Hand Soap Recipe

  • 11 cups of water
  • 1 bar of soap (Tom’s of Maine and Castile gave me the best results – Dove soap didn’t work)
  • 1 tablespoon of glycerin
  • 10 drops of essential oil ( I like lavender)

Use a grater or food processor and get the soap into small, fine bits. This allows them to melt faster. And yes, it it totally worth grating your fingernails for. 😉

Bring four cups of water to a boil. Add the grated soap. Stir it until it melts completely. Add the glycerin. Once the soap is completely melted add the remaining water. Splitting up the water helps it to cool faster. Once the liquid is cooled, add the essential oils. Next, (DON’T skip this step) let it sit overnight. The solution will thicken to the consistency of phlegm.  Place on to two cups at a time in a blender and mix well. This will smooth it out so that it can be used in pumps. If it needs  a bit of water to thin it out you can add some. If you want it thicker add 2 more tablespoons of glycerin and allow it to sit for a few hours. If not, bottle it and enjoy!

For use in foaming soap pumps, add about 1/4 cup to the bottle and add the rest water. Shake to incorporate it.

This can be used in foaming soap dispensers. It can also be used as a body soap. One batch of this lasts my family of 6 for 4-5 months.

Download Homemade Hand Soap Labels

For best results, print on mailing labels or Avery sticker paper. After adhering to bottle, use contact paper over the label to give it added protection.

Other posts in this series: Homemade All Natural Cleaning Products


  1. I’m still confused about how safe the soap is after two weeks even in the refrigerator. Isn’t there something else besides essential oil to use to preserve it without worry…I’m allergic to essential oils and can’t use them.
    They give me massive headaches so tea Tree oil, etc. is out 🙁
    I’m thinking citrus acid as mentioned in the above comments but how does that work, LOL. Novice here

    • Laura, there is no need to keep this refrigerated. The blogger from the site you read is making uneducated and unfounded statements. Boiling the water decreases the chance of most all bacteria to start with and you glycerin helps to preserve. And the soap you use, in it’s bar form, is more likely to grow bacteria than if it is in liquid form. I invite you to do your own research (from science sites and not bloggers) and you’ll see that this recipe is completely safe.

      If you do want to add citric acid you can add up to one tablespoon for each 4 ounces of bar soap that you use.

      • Thank you for your reply. I tried your recipe the other night and love, love, love how the soap turned out! Just got worried about the bacteria/petri dish issue. I used Irish Spring (original) and it was perfect. Not strong smelling, just nice. You mentioned that if I wanted to add citric acid to go ahead and do so. Would 1 tbsp. of RealLemon work as citric acid. If not, what do you recommend? Also, how can I receive notifications in email about this post? I just happened to come here today and that’s how I saw your reply. I checked the box that said to be notified of follow-up comments with my original post it didn’t seem to work.
        Thank you.

  2. I used 10 cups of water with my second batch and had much better results. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. Christina Warren says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I will give it a try. I am confused though. It says the recipe can be made for less than $1.50. However, Just the bar of soap would cost more than that, so how is that possible? Is that a typo or is their a cheaper place out there to buy Toms of Maine and/or Dr. Bonner’s Castile bar soap??

  4. I love making this soap. I used Kirk’s Castile soap (which is cheap and readily available where I live). I worked great!! I have also made it with Dr. Bronner’s. Both times I noticed my hands getting dry so the next time when I put it in the blender I added 1 tablespoon of Apricot oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil per 2 cup batch. That made it perfect for my super dry skin.

  5. I am going to try this… as I am sooo irritated by commercial soaps and the more natural ones are very expensive. One question that is a little concerning… one bar of soap makes enough liquid hand soap for 4-5 months? Really? Does this really have enough of ‘whatever’ to clean hands? This is my only concern and question.

  6. Joanne callaghan says:

    Hi, I am new to soap making and want to make my own..I was thinking of making your recipe and adding 2 table spoons coconut oil for moisture, for essential oils I was going to use orange oil…I also have tea tree oil if this is suitable..I was reading on another site about adding citric acid for a preservative as the soaps can develop bacteria if not kept in fridge and used in a month..( so I read on another site) I don’t want to waste my product or have to throw it out because of mould and also giving germs when I’m trying to prevent them..please help..

    • Joanne, if you are using a therapeutic-grade essential oil in this soap, like Young Living, you wouldn’t even have to worry about adding the citric acid. Most essential oils (if the plants are raised, harvested, and distilled correctly) will be be very antiseptic, antibacterial, anti fungal, and even antiviral. 🙂 I hope that helps! I really like your idea of adding coconut oil to the mix. I might try jojoba oil, just for grins. If you need to find out more information on essential oils you can find tons of testimonials on http://www.oil-testimonials.com or even on my website http://www.wellness-within.net.

    • Hi Joanne, that other site is not presenting factual and accurate information. Even some science majors have commented to say so. You have the same chance of soap with preservatives growing bacteria or mildew and bar soap grows bacteria at a greater rate. Lavender is a great preservative, disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti fungal agent. She really doesn’t understand enough about chemistry or the ingredients to make such bold statements about recipes. And yes, you can also use citric acid if you choose but it isn’t necessary.

      I hope that helps.

  7. Thank you for this recipe! I just made the hand soap yesterday and now blending it for a smooth consistency. Is there anything I could add though to help prevent dry hands? I just used the soap for the first time (used the dr bronners castille soap bar & lavender oil) and my hands already feel dry after one wash! hmmm…

  8. Hi there! I’m gathering the ingredients to make this because I too like the foaming hand soap like the bath shops sell but would like to pay less. First, has anyone found the foaming hand pumps anywhere? I have a couple of the bottles left I can rinse and reuse but would like to find where to buy them. Secondly how do you know which bar soaps will work and which won’t? I have a huge stash of bar soaps we were given I’d like to use up and there are all kinds of brands. I know there’s Dove which you said won’t work but I wondered if any of the others might.

  9. I’m new to this whole ‘clean naturally’ business so please excuse my naivete. As a mom of soon to be 3 kids under 3 I’ve become increasingly aware of the need to keep their world chemical free, when possible. I’ve been reading through your recipes for cleaning products and have saved many of them to try! I have so many questions for you! My first is directly related to this post/recipe. Do you think this hand cleaner could be used like your Clorox wipe knock-off recipe? I use diaper wipes to clean my kids up a lot after a meal because hand wipes are just so easy. However, I know it’s not a good habit to get in to, it’s also ridiculously expensive. So could this recipe be put into a container and used like wipes? Also, where do you buy essential oils? I’ve never heard of them but they sound super pricey! Are mixing any of these cleaning agents dangerous, needing words of caution for how to handle or mix them properly? The idea of mixing/cooking any of these things together freaks me out after an accidential mixing of commercial cleaning agents shortly after I was married caused a super bad chemical reaction I’m surprised I walked away from unscathed! Needless to say that started my desire for more natural cleaning products which only intensified when I had my kids! Anyway-thanks for this blog! It’s helping a new ‘natural cleaning’ adventurer out!

    • Kari Smithson says:

      If you want to make wet wipes to clean up your kids’ hands, then i would try a recipe for baby wet wipes. This recipe seems like it would be too soapy for hand wipes(when you use it in a soap pump, you have to rinse it off). I use this recipe for wet wipes for my baby: 1 cup filtered water, 1 Tbls. castille soap, 1 Tbls. coconut oil, 2 drops tea tree oil, 2 drops essential oil of your choice(optional). You would make the solution, then pour it over folded paper towels in a wipe container. Which leads me to your next question-where to buy essential oils. You can buy them at many health food stores in the health & beauty section, they run from $3-$20 depending on the variety. Each oil obviously has it’s own scent but each oil also has it’s own healing properties. For instance lavendar is anti-inflammatory, lemon and grapefruit anti-bacterial, etc. You can also take them internally but the only brand I know that is okay to consume is Young Living. This is the highest quality essential oil I’ve found. You could google it to see if someone in your area sells it, it is sold by Young Living representatives(I don’t sell it, by the way).

    • Rebecca, one of the easiest and cheapest habits to get into is not doing things like using wet wipes. Buy a large batch of white wash cloths from places like Costco, or cut up an old towel and keep these in a basket on your counter. Just grab one and wet it with warm water and wipe those hands and faces. Throw a couple or wet rags in a ziplock bag in the diaper bag or car. It just takes a little change in behavior on your part to throw them in your laundry, rather than some throw away item. I never even used diaper wipes on my kids (my oldest is 29). Just cloths with warm water and we did not have diaper rash.

    • Thank you Amy – Looking forward to trying out this handsoap recipe! 🙂 Rebecca, I’ve personally used 3 different brands of essential oils. After much research, the only one I’d now recommend (just like Kari Smithson) is Young Living. Their standard for growing the plants and distilling the oils is so high and they have an excellent reputation as a company. I’m personally going to try out this recipe with the Thieves blend essential oil produced by Young Living. It’s a mix of cinnamon, cloves, eucalytus radiata, rosemary, and lemon oils. It’s something like 99.9% antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. I’m only going to need a few drops for this recipe but I will use the remaining Thieves oil as a preventative (just rubbing a drop or two on the bottom of feet each night before bed) for keeping my family well! My family has used YL oils for 3 years now and have not needed a single doctor’s appointment since. 🙂 I realize it’s been months since your post, but check out my website if you need anymore info on essential oils…

  10. Thanks for posting this wonderful recipe! I finally don’t feel too intimidated to make my own now 🙂 I was just curious if you have experimented with various essential oils? I’m still new to learning all about natural ingredients in soap, but I know for example that Jojoba oil is good for moisturizing. I thought it might be beneficial to add some for moisture? I’m not sure though.

  11. I LOVE this series!! I’ve used the all-purpose spray, the glass cleaner, and the scouring powder the most. My bathroom scouring stuff is a globby mess. Did I do something wrong? Also, I found out that a spray bottle will not work for the toilet bowl cleaner. I saved a dish liquid bottle and I’m going to try that. What do you use?

    How much oatmeal & sugar do you add to what amount of the liquid hand soap to make a body wash? I’m very interested in trying that!

    One more question: would it be possible for you to put all of the labels into one file (or at least all of the labels for each style)? So far, I just used plain, ugly, black sharpie to label my containers, but partly that was because I wanted to make sure they worked :-).

    Thank you!!

  12. Amber Hesgard says:


    Where did you get those cute foam bottles? I’ve been looking around but haven’t found anything remotely similar.


  13. i have tried using dr bonners as hand soap but i feel like it leaves a sticky residue on my hands similar to when i use a bar soap.(i tried liquid and bar). what causes this?

  14. I will try this for sure. Great recipe. Thanks Amy!

  15. Thanks for the info Amy. I have a quick question about the floor cleaner, but the floor cleaner link would not let me leave a comment. Can the floor cleaner be used on laminate floors?? I have been using the Swifter Wet Jet and its cleaner made with frebreeze. I really don’t want to use chemicals anymore. BTW, I have been using the All Purpose Cleaner and the Bathroom Cleaner…LOVE THEM!!!! The showers and sinks are so much shinier than when I cleaned with chemicals. Also, I have suffered with a low immune system, when I would clean with chemicals I would be sick for days after. Now, with the all natural cleaners, I have NO ill effects! Thanks for all of your research.

  16. I made my hand soap recently. I used a bar soap I already had at the house, Kirk’s Castile Bar Soap. I have been using the hand soap for a day now, and have found it to dry out my hands. Do you think it is the bar soap I used? What do you suggest?

    • I’m not familiar with that brand but if you look at the ingredients and see “fragrance” then that is likely the reason. Anything with fragrance but without additional oils can dry the hands.

  17. Hey, Amy! Made this last night and let it sit overnight as instructed. It did not go to “pleghm” stage but separated some and was very thin. I used my homemade soap, so that could have made a difference. It also came out a pretty cream color and not as clear as yours. It seems to work really well. Other that waiting for the foam to subside after blending and before pouring into storage jars, any ideas how to keep the foam on top from filling the jars? Maybe pour it through a strainer? Great recipe! Going to play with it some more and make body wash for gifts with homemade lotion! I now have a way to use the soap I trim off my homemade bars instead of re-batching them. This is so much easier! Were you able to find your self-foaming conatiners locally or did you have to order them? Thanks, again, you rock!

    • I’m not certain, Charlisa. What fats do you use to make your soap. I can do some research for you.

      • I use olive as the base, so it is a castile, soybean and coconut oils. It is still a pretty thin liquid and probably great for hands, especially in a self-foaming pump. I wonder if I should leave out the extra glycerin as there is the natural glycerin in the soap already. i would love to figure out out to get to a consistency for body wash or bubble bath. What is the consistency of yours when it is done? Thanks for the assistance!

  18. Ok, need to try this one too! We are moving into our new house over the next week. Perhaps I will make this rather than buy all new soap! Do you usually reuse your containers or have you found reasonably priced (and cute) dispensers?

  19. I love using the Dr Bronner’s Liquid soap in my foaming pump dispensers. It saves me a step, since I already use it for other things. Have you(or anyone) every found a good scrubbing soap recipe? My husband and I love one from a certain body shop, but hate the anti-bacterial ingredients. I’ve tried cheaper versions, but they just clog the pump. We love using it for all the really grimy gardening and garage hands that come into our currently under remodel house.

    • I use one for a body wash that I am certain would work for your hands too. I grind oatmeal and sugar in my food processor and add it to the soap. It works great for scrubbing but won’t go into a foaming pump. I use a pump I got from Target. It has an oversized pump and tube in it so I am guessing that is why it doesn’t get clogged. Maybe you can reuse the pump that you got from the body shop? Have you tried that?

      • No I haven’t tried that, but it will be on my list once we run out of our Christmas sale stash. I”m not sure if I hate throwing things away or using things I don’t like more! I’ll have to remember to save all of my bottles too!

  20. Great recipe, but…the labels are for furniture polish! 😉

  21. I have a question. I have liquid Dr. Bronner’s, could you use that instead of the bar? I’ve not found the bar locally. (I’m really LOVING your home recipes so far!)

    • Yes, you can. The Dr. Bronner’s liquid is already done. You just use it as you normally would. For foaming soap dispensers use only 1/4 cup and the rest water. I chose to use the bar just to save some money. It offers big savings to use the bar.

  22. This is a really cool recipe. I’ll definitely bookmark it and try it out. If I go to Whole Foods today, I’ll keep my eyes out for vegetable glycerin, too. Have you ever made any kind of liquid handsome using the Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap? Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

    • The Dr. Bronner’s liquid is already done. You can use it as hand soap, as is. I went this route to save some money. But, yes. Dr. Bronner’s is some good stuff that can be used for many things.

  23. Fantastic series, Amy! I’m excited to have a hand soap recipe. I can’t stand how much the products on the market dry my hands! Living in a very dry state just makes it even worse. Thanks!

  24. Amy Reulet says:

    I love this one. I use Dr. Bronner’s Teatree soap for mine.

  25. Where is the best place to get glycerine? Would most health stores carry it? Drug store?

  26. What a FANTASTIC recipe! I’m so glad you have been doing this series! I have to collect all my ingredients, but I’ll be making most of these recipes this Spring – and I love this handsoap recipe! I have a terrible reaction to a lot of hand soaps. Great job Amy!

    • Hey, Debbie!

      I know what you mean. We’ve had some wild reactions to hand soaps too. In fact, a few years ago, one of my boys’ hands dried out so bad that they turned red and were flaking and cracking severely. We didn’t know what it was at first but the doctor had us put an antibiotic ointment on them and wrap them every day until they were better. When they were finally better it happened again within a week. We finally realized the “antibacterial” soap we were using was the cause. He wasn’t rinsing his hands completely and it was slowly destroying all of the tissue! That is sort of when I decided I would never again use the commercial stuff. About a year ago the exact same thing happened to my nephew. His hands got pretty bad too. That is some toxic stuff.

      I’m glad you are enjoying the recipes!

  27. I have received lots of emails/questions about this post (http://www.greenideareviews.com/2012/07/22/diy-homemade-liquid-hand-soap-review-does-it-work/) so I will post here what I addressed to her in the comments of the blog:

    Just an FYI: most all bar soaps already contain natural preservatives. And, even antibacterial soaps (solid and liquid) can grow mold and harbor bacteria. For my recipes, glycerine is also a partial preservative and most all essential oils are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal and my recipes call for using them. In addition, the recipes on my blog were tested by an award winning lab (research for an upcoming book). I don’t post things like this without fully investigating them. This is why I mentioned that it is only good for 4-6 months because the consistency does change over time.

    It is also good to keep in mind that the very act of using the saponified soap will aid in the removal of the bacteria since the soap binds itself to the particles (bacteria, dirt, and oil) and trap them so that they can be rinsed away. That is how the chemistry of any soap works.

    The biggest issue with all liquid soap is making sure you use a clean pump. Bacteria does tend to grow on them so if you touch it and don’t clean your hands after you will be transmitting that bacteria. Even so, the soap does it’s job no matter where it comes from.

  28. Joanne callaghan says:

    It’s lovely thankyou and was so easy to make…saved me lots money…

  29. Kemberly L. Moody says:

    Hi Amy,
    I am making the handsoap to day and my two girls are super excited- almost annoying:)! I was wondering if adding something like a couple drops of tea tree oil or coloidal silver to the batch would help reduce risk of bateria, mold etc. Although with our family of five – and tons of visitors all the time, i am sure we will use the batch up before the ‘experation’ of 4-6 months.
    Thank you for your time and your posts! Intrigued mom!

  30. Thank you for posting! Have you tried putting your recipe in a self-foaming soap dispenser? I’ve found that this stretches the soap much more. I can add much more water and my kids are excited to use the foamy bubbles. Self-foaming soap dispensers are available on soap making sites online.


  1. […] a rinsed milk jug.  If you want to try this yourself, you can find step by step instructions here, here, or here  (they’re all pretty much the same).  I put a small amount of the hand soap into a […]

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