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Homemade Liquid Hand Soap

Have we allowed the advertisers and marketers to dictate our tastes and preferences or are we in control and we determine what we need and want?

Just turn on your TV and you are told that you are not happy unless you are wearing the latest style in clothes, driving the most up to date car while taking the prescription drug du jour (with those nasty little side effects). Fido will live Liquid Hand Soaplonger if you feed him the appropriate dog food and your kids can never be happy unless they have the latest thumb strengthening electronic gadget.

Now, pretend that you live in a remote location without the benefit of television and constant radio advertisements. You and you alone determine what makes you happy and what you need in order to survive. The ‘keeping up with the Joneses advertising’ does not exist.

I took you through that mental exercise because I wanted to talk to you about making homemade liquid hand soap. Yeah, I know, I just ragged on the advertising industry, now I’m going to talk about making something that they have ‘created a need’ for in our homes. Let’s face it, I don’t know about you but when I was a child, we used bar soap to wash our hands before dinner and it worked just fine

Anyhow, now that liquid hand soap has become a ‘necessity’ let’s make our own instead of buying it from the store. The recipe is not complicated and the soap achieves the effect that soap was created for. It thoroughly cleans your hands.

There is no magic formula. Don’t be led astray by all of the complicated formulas and ingredients. What we’re going to make here is basic homemade liquid hand soap. The most economical way to make it is to save all of the small soap fragments that you’ve collected over time. However, if you don’t have saved soap fragments, a bar of soap will work just as well.

Here’s what you do:

In a pot, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil. While the water is coming to a Soap Dispenserboil, shave the bar of soap into fragments, or break up the already small pieces of leftover soap. The smaller the fragments, the quicker they will dissolve in the boiling water.

Stir the soap into the boiling water until the soap completely dissolves. Once the mixture is cool, pour it into your old soap dispenser. You will note the mixture is not as thick as store-bought soap (if consistency is an issue for you, use less water and more soap). However, you’ll find the watery hand soap mixture works exceedingly well in creating a lather and cleaning your hands.

Here’s where the advertising and marketing exercise from above comes into play. The advertisers will have us believe that the thick gel type liquid hand soap is necessary to get our hands clean. Oh contraire!

If you prefer to have a different scent, experiment with essential oils. Only a drop or two is necessary.

This is a basic no fluff recipe for homemade liquid hand soap. It will clean your hands thoroughly. After all, that’s what you want the soap to do, isn’t it?

By the way, how much did this cost you?

Score another one for thinking blulow!

About the author: Felicia has learned the hard way that health, whether good or bad, is a result of daily choices and habits. On this blog, Felicia shares what she’s learned and the healthier choices she now makes as a result of her new knowledge. She hopes to encourage others to experiment to find alternative solutions to nagging problems (she’s also is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment).

in Cleaning, Featured

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ana May 11, 2012, 4:31 pm

    I use foam pump but buy regular liquid refill soap. I kept one old big bottle to mix the liquid soap with warm/hot tap water. I use about 1/3 liquid soap and the rest is warm/hot water. I really doesn’t matter how warm the water is, the warmer the sooner it will mix well. I still have gallon size liquid refill bottle that was bought almost 2 years ago and there is 4 of us. Washing hands all the time. I do use already made liquid soap but the recipe should work with your home made liquid soap as well. For the foam pump that is. As far as the pump goes, in the past 3 years I had to replace it once. And I got it cheap, for $1.

    • Felicia May 14, 2012, 7:26 am

      Ana, that’s a good idea. I’ll give it a shot.

  • Talitha January 4, 2012, 8:38 am

    hello Felicia, i’m a new reader and your articles will be very helpful. The laundry soap, and hand soap is as far as i have gotten. I look forward to any other ideas and finding you discover.

  • Heather September 17, 2010, 12:14 pm

    Thank you ever so much for these recipes! If you have any other recipes I would be thrilled to start making them! I am going to be saving so much money. You are great, thank you again. Feel free to email me to discuss more ways to save money around the house!


  • Cathy September 15, 2010, 4:57 pm

    I like the way you think! :)

  • Janice August 3, 2010, 10:52 am

    Thanks Felicia for the info. I do have another question though. Do I need to put the soap on the stove every time I need to dilute it or will hot tap water be enough. Thanks

    • Felicia August 3, 2010, 10:56 am

      Janice, I’m very lazy. I used hot tap water.

  • Janice August 2, 2010, 11:45 am

    I used 1 bar of soap and 3 cups of water at first and then when it gelled up I put 2 bowls full of water in it and it has made a 64 oz bottle of soap and still gelled up and it hardly lathers when I use it so I have no Idea what went wrong. I cant believe I made a mess of something that simple.

    • Felicia August 2, 2010, 11:53 am

      LOL, Janice, it sounds like its time for you to make lemonade out of your lemons. :)

      When I made my soap I used soap remnants. I pieced together a couple of remnants and added water. If your soap gelled then it sounds like you can use it to make liquid soap enough to last the rest of the year. I would probably continue to dilute it a bit and put it in a separate container. When I needed more, I’d dilute the gel a bit more.

      That’s the beauty of this stuff; as long as your hands get clean it works! The soap commercials have done a great job in telling us what soap is supposed to look like. My watery soap kicks up a good lather and does a great job in cleaning our hands. Don’t give up Janice. Just think how far you’ve stretched one bar of soap.

  • Janice August 2, 2010, 11:05 am

    Okay so I woke up this morning and checked my liquid hand soap and once again it has solidified. it is not completely solid but it is the consistancy of lard. As a matter of fact it looks like pink lard lol. So I was thinking that maybe it is doing this because I used glycerin soap instead of regular soap. Could this be the reason. I dont know what to do now.

    • Felicia August 2, 2010, 11:20 am

      Janice, it sounds like too much soap and not enough water. When I create my soap it’s rather watery, but it does the trick.

  • janice August 1, 2010, 10:58 pm

    Ok so I tried the liquid hand soap recipe and I dont have a clue what I did wrong. I used a 4 oz bar of dial soap and I melted it in 3 cups of water and when it cooled it looked like lard. It wasn’t solid of course because of the water but it wasn’t a liquid either. I added some more water to it and I think I made it to thin but I put it in a foaming soap dispenser and it seems to work okay but I think it still needs to be a little thicker. Any suggestions?

  • Janice August 1, 2010, 8:37 pm

    I am so glad that I found this website, there is so much useful information on here. I have been looking for different ways of saving money because my husband and I have a 5 month old daughter that was born with a birth defect in her left leg and she is going to have to have surgey to correct it so we are trying to save for when she has surgery. I am going to try the liquid handsoap recipe tonight and I have ordered the arm and hammer washing soda and the fels naptha soap and it will be in tuesday so I can make my laundry soap and my dish washer soap tuesday, I already have borax. I also bought some vinagar and some baking soda today. I am also interested in making liquid dish soap for hand washing the baby bottles and other things if anyone has a recipe for that and I am also wanting to make bar soap so if anyone has a recipe for that it would be great. I am not to crazy about the idea of using lye but if it will save me some money I will try to use it. I dont want to buy the soap base because it is way to expensive. I can buy regular bar soap at walmart for cheaper than what I would pay for soap base, molds, oils, and colorings. Thank you all for all of this helpful information.

  • Patricia July 9, 2010, 5:00 pm

    Washing soda and borax can be found at http://www.AceHardware.com The local store here also had a recipe on the shelf. Handy.

  • Jenniferbee May 21, 2010, 2:19 pm

    For everyone who can’t find A&H Washing Soda: buy PH UP in the swimming pool section at any walmart, hardware store, etc. It’s sodium carbonate, the exact ingredient of Washing Soda! I found this out on another website(can’t remember which one!). I went to walmart, picked up some PH UP and checked the ingredient, and sure enough, it’s sodium carbonate. It’s a lot cheaper than the washing soda too.

    I use the Zote soap also, and I love it! It takes out stains on my 19 month-old’s clothes VERY well! I just wet the area of clothing that has a stain, and rub some of the Zote on it. It has a wonderful smell too. I read that it’s also good for catfishing, and for bathing. I looked up the MSDS and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Still haven’t tried bathing with it though : )

  • Jett Leann May 19, 2010, 1:50 pm

    Lois, I currently use the dishwasher recipe that calls for the 4 ingredients you mentioned: washing soda, Borax, kosher salt and citric acid, with white vinegar as the rinsing agent. Works great!

  • Stacy R May 18, 2010, 12:00 pm

    Very good info. planning to try this later today as well as the laundry det. My grandmother always believed in the more natural way of doing things and she is on her way to being 99 years old this year. I say it sure can’t hurt to try it! LOL

  • Crystal March 21, 2010, 2:14 pm

    I DO live in a remote location without the benefit of television and constant radio advertising! And you’re right – we decide what makes us happy and there is no one we need to keep up with. We also make a lot of our own cleaners (and a whole lot of other stuff, too) but I learned a few new tricks here so thanks for the post and thanks to all who left comments. I’m so glad I reconnected with this site.

  • Wendy-Jo March 12, 2010, 9:27 am

    I have made the laundry detergent for over a year now. And love it. I use ZOte soap for .97 a double bar at Walmart in PA. It has citronella in it and I find when I hang my laundry out to dry I have less gnats also when kids are playing outside less mosquito bites. I do foster care. I make the detergent with dove sensitive soap for the babies detergent. it works good and no reaction.
    I use white vinegar in my laundry rinse spot and my friend uses it in the downy ball. It rinse the ammonia from urine when the babies pee.
    I Also use white vinegar in my dishwasher rinse cycle. Takes all white film and spots away.
    I finally used all my bars and bottles of soap I had stock piled. Now I am onto making my own.
    My daughter started putting her shampoo & conditioner in squirt bottles and dilutes it and sprays it on. It last so much longer because it lathers just as well.
    We compost everything and plant a nice garden. We bought funky food this year. red carrots, blue and red potatoes, pink & purple tomatoes as well and red, white and blue corn on the cob. I can not wait to get planting.
    I am hoping to find some more good ideas on this site.

    • Felicia March 14, 2010, 8:51 am

      Wendy-Jo, thanks for sharing your great tips. Let us know how your colorful fruits and veggies come out.

  • Lois March 10, 2010, 5:32 pm

    I’ve seen a recipe for dishwasher detergent that is A & H washing soda, Borax, kosher salt and citric acid. Has anyone tried this? I believe the citric acid is used to eliminate the white/cloudy residue. They also suggest vinegar for the rinse agent.

    I’d just like a little feedback if anyone has used these four ingredients together.

  • sherry March 1, 2010, 8:01 am

    Stacy how much grated soap did u use for the gallon of water? Did you try the dollar store for containers? They usually have that kind of stuff in ours, just a thought or a milk jug…

  • Stacy February 28, 2010, 5:39 pm

    My first batch of liquid soap worked great. I used an electric mixer with grater attachment to grate the bar of soap in a few minutes. Brought 1 gal ___ water almost to boil, added the grated soap and let it melt and added 2 tsp coconut oil (health food store) which thickens it, did not have any essential oil. When almost cool I used my hand blender, let sit overnight and blended again. I use it for hand soap and it made my dishes shine. Only problem is finding containers. I’m using recycled spice jars and whatever I can find. I don’t want to spend $1.50 for plastic with pump tops for a product that cost me $2 per gal. I use half/half vinegar & hydrogen peroxide to clean my sink & counters since I feed my dogs raw chicken. Thanks for the recipies and tips. I’m going to make the clothes washing detergent next. Check “Chronic Health Effects” section of the National Institutes of Health’s MSDS for Fels-Naptha dangers. I’ll stick with Ivory.

  • Judi February 17, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Love the soap ideas.

    I made liquid laundry soap with some castile soap (@1/3 of the bar) and a bar of handmade (cold process) soap (@ 1/2 the bar)..

    I am going to try the hand soap too.. too easy. :)

  • Sarah February 17, 2010, 11:38 am

    Washing soda: I found it at Alice.com for about $2.50/box and Alice.com always has free shipping as long as you order 6 items. They also had the borax and ivory soap. I’m still trying to find fels-naptha locally because I’d like to try it.
    Thanks for all the great ideas!

  • Becki February 4, 2010, 3:41 pm

    I have just starting making my own liquid soap and do not really like how “thin” it is. I was wondering, has anyone tried to add oatmeal to thicken it?

    • Felicia February 8, 2010, 8:28 am

      Not so sure how that would work, but no. I’ve never tried to thicken it with oatmeal.

      You could give it a try to see if you’re happy with the results.

  • Angela January 29, 2010, 2:53 am

    I have a question regarding changing the chemical makeup of baking soda to washing soda. I live at a high altitude which effects all my baking. Would I need to consider the altitude for the chemical change?

    • Felicia February 8, 2010, 8:27 am

      Angela, sorry for the late response, but I’m no chemistry expert. I hope one of my readers can give you the right answer.

  • Hunna January 14, 2010, 7:14 pm

    i made hand soap but i find it does not lather has anyone esle have this happen i used a bar of ivory

    • Felicia January 14, 2010, 9:50 pm

      Maybe you used too much water?

  • Linda January 9, 2010, 7:37 pm

    WE live in Minnesota and the Coborns stores have washing soda and Fel Naptha to make laundry soap! Most places have borax!

  • sarah January 2, 2010, 4:33 pm

    cheapest handsoap ever-use a foaming type handsoap dispenser, choose your favorite liquid dish soap, fill container with warm water leave about 1 inch space from top, add soap, screw on cap, shake,
    voila-handsoap. Virtually free.

    • Felicia January 8, 2010, 7:03 am

      Love your idea Sarah.

  • Rhea December 27, 2009, 7:06 pm

    My town also did not carry Washing Soda anywhere but Ace Hardware stores supply it often. I ordered it on their website to be shipped to their store for FREE and then picked it up for the small price of $3.79. Also, white vinegar is great for the white buildup on your dishes that homemade detergent leaves and some recipes call for citric acid to help with that too. I would recommend looking at other sites first before just going ahead and making one of these recipes because depending on your septic tank, water hardness/softness, type of dishwasher/washing machine certain recipes work better than others and each of them have tricks to help you if a recipe bombs.

  • Liv November 20, 2009, 7:57 pm

    Donnie is correct.

  • sherry November 6, 2009, 8:56 am

    I make cold process soap so I will try using them, they already have essential oils and are great for your skin too. If anyone has tried by using this let me know how it turned out

  • KinKStar September 8, 2009, 3:42 pm

    Sorry Lori, Bon Ami is a non-abasive cleanser, used to clean hard surfaces. It is not the same as Borax.

    If Borax isn’t in your local stores, you might try asking the store manager if they can get it for you. You can always order it online! I don’t know if they offer free shipping if you order a certain amount, but if so, then see about getting a friend or neighbor to order with you to qualify.

    You might even find it on eBay at a reasonable price! Good Luck!

  • Lori September 8, 2009, 3:20 pm

    Can anyone tell me if Bon Ami is the same as Borax, since I have not seen Borax in my local stores? Thanks for all the tips!

    • Felicia September 8, 2009, 3:26 pm

      I’m not really sure if Bon Ami is the same as Borax. Hopefully one of my readers has the answer.

  • Dwayne July 22, 2009, 7:05 am

    We made the powder laundry detergent last night. It seemed to work just fine. Sure will save a lot of money in the future. Thank you very much, and have a wonderful day.

  • Dwayne July 20, 2009, 10:22 pm


    Absolutely wonderful site. I am going to make the various soaps to save some money. We have a water softener. I was wondering if this would make a difference in the amounts of the ingredients?

    Thanks for your suggestions.

    • Felicia July 20, 2009, 10:40 pm

      A water softener will help the detergent to work better. I have one also. You can try backing down on the amounts of detergent because your water is soft, but I use the amounts as indicated in the recipe.

  • Felicia June 29, 2009, 4:54 pm

    Hi Renee,

    The baking soda helps to soften the water which allows the detergent to do its job better. In theory it might help to make clothes brighter if the detergent works better. On occasion I put baking soda in the wash but I haven’t done it on a regular basis to tell if it makes much of a difference.

    Some folks use vinegar as a fabric softener. Either way adding baking soda and/or vinegar to the laundry won’t hurt, but I can’t tell you from experience how much brighter the wash will be.

    Try experimenting to see which one works best for you.

  • Julie June 10, 2009, 6:21 pm

    Thank you so much for the great information. I had been using Borax with my detergent for years, but when I figured out how to make my own it has saved us SO MUCH MONEY! I have a family of 6 and my youngest has SEVERE allergies and asthma. We have switched several families over to making their own laundry soap. Hopefully within the next year I’ll have a dishwasher and will get to use the recipe for that too…I’m sure it will be great. I’m going to try the hand soap recipe with the kids as a great activity this afternoon. Thanks for the tips and advice.

  • Vinny David June 6, 2009, 10:15 pm

    I know Publix or the now almost defunct “mom and pop” neighborhood grocery stores carry the A & H Super Washing Soda. Also, another way to conserve old smaller ‘unusable’ remnants of regular soaps is to wet two or more pieces and press them together so they “weld” into each other, Now they are large enough to be handled easily and used as hand washing soap!!

    • Felicia June 7, 2009, 11:08 am

      Another good tip. Thanks Vinny.

  • June in AK June 4, 2009, 3:12 am

    What information I’ve gleaned from reading these posts. Thank you. I’ve been using the homemade laundry detergent for about 4 months. It cleans very well. I do add about 1/2 cup of my Melaluca laundry soap, #1 because I still have some, and #2 for some of the scent it provides. As I line dry my laundry, it could go without it, though. I noticed that spot treating stains, the homemade stuff works great, though you shouldn’t let it sit too long, as I could literally bleach areas of your clothing.
    Lemon juice and good ‘ole sunshine was the old way to “bleach” whites with stains…

    • Felicia June 7, 2009, 11:05 am

      Lemon juice and sunshine. What a great tip! Thanks!

  • Meme May 29, 2009, 2:02 am

    I used food dye for the liquid hand soap– blue as I used white ivory bar and it turned out fine- just a few drops- also had one teaspoon of hand dish washing soap to the mix after it was whipped- this keeps that scum that accumulates on the sink- (if soap does not get completely rinsed down the sink- rather do that than run water longer- )

  • Donnie May 26, 2009, 4:10 am

    If you can not find the washing soda her is how to change the chemicail makeup of baking soda to make it washing soda.

    Heat oven to 450*
    spread out the baking soda on a cookie sheet
    Leave in the oven for 30 min.

    Here is why: as the soda temp reaches 250* it will release Cardon Dioxide and hydrogen into the atmosphere but is not enough to harm you. This will chemically change the Sodium dicarbon to Sodium Cardon or Baking Soda to Washing Soda.

  • meccano May 20, 2009, 9:17 pm

    Because Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) isn’t a expensive money maker, I have found that stores often stock it on the very bottom shelf or the very top shelf out of the way and hard to find in the laundry powder section. It always seems to be right next to the 20 Mule Team Borax. Baking Soda is sodium BIcarbonate and is also a great cleaner. I have read that if you have Baking Soda, Washing Soda, Vinegar and Borax you can pretty much clean anything. Oxy Clean / Oxiclean does have Washing Soda in it…sort of, but it is the sodium percarbonate in those type products that makes unique. When sodium percarbonate is mixed with water it creates hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. The hydrogen peroxide acts as a natural bleaching agent that will degrade naturally while the sodium carbonate acts as a detergent. Anyways, I don’t pretend to understand the whole chemical reaction that occurs with OxiClean but I have read that it works best on organic stains. The sodium carbonate that is released in OxiClean is what makes it feel slimmy (if you’ve ever mixed it in a bucket you know what I mean), but that is great for the laundry because it is acting like a water softener (anyone remember Calgon?) that will help keep hard water from building up and killing the washing machine as well as keeping you cloths cleaner and softer because the hard water elements aren’t getting stuck in your clothes.

    • Felicia May 20, 2009, 10:38 pm

      Thanks for such an informative post meccano.

      Great info to know.

  • Molly April 28, 2009, 1:07 pm

    Ozy Clean, and the generic brands..is washing soda! Works very