Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap

It amazes me how sometimes the coolest ideas are the most obvious ones! I am one of those people who HAS to have hand soap next to the sink.  Kitchen AND bathroom. I’ve tried to break myself of the habit a couple of different times….but I just can’t do it.  I’ve even tried replacing it with bar soap which is considerably cheaper, with less-packaging, but it just doesn’t do it for me. I have switched to the foaming type soap however.  It seems to last longer and I actually like it better. Feels more “soapy”. :-)

So a few weeks ago I came across this “recipe” for making your own foaming hand soap at

After I read it…I had one of those “hand slap to the forehead” moments.  duh!  lol.  Made too much sense and was too easy. Seems like some of the best ideas usually are.

So I made this “recipe” today for the first time, and I literally cannot tell any difference from the original stuff. I have purchased my LAST bottle of hand soap.

So here it is…the “recipe”.  Prepare to be amazed.

You will need:

Pour one tablespoon of liquid dish soap into an empty foaming soap dispenser.
Fill the rest of the dispenser with water (leaving a little space at the top of the container).
Screw on the lid and shake.
Pump the dispenser a few times to get the foaming started.

The KEY is the foaming soap bottle/pump.  This won’t work with a regular pump bottle. I bought the very one posted above.  Method brand, clear. (I have to have clear…I’m weird that way.)  Today when I realized it was almost gone, I mixed up the above “recipe” and voila!  Looking at it you can’t tell any difference from the bottle I first bought and it literally cost pennies to make.  I’m happy.

Now, for those of you who already figured this out all on your own…I salute you. I’m afraid my brain tends to try and over complicate most things.  Thank goodness for the logical thinkers out there. :-)

UPDATE:  10/24/2011

I was making a new batch of this stuff tonight and noticed that the chamber at the top of the tube had some discolored liquid just sitting in there. It was hardly noticeable, but it was bugging me because I couldn’t figure out how to get it out! I was about ready to go buy a new bottle (*GASP*).  I tried taking the tube out of the bottle and sticking it in a glass of water and pumping plain water through it. Nope, still there.  So I turned it upside down and tried pumping it some more and VOILA!  Came right out.  Now my soap bottle is clean and sparkly again. :-)  AND, even though it gets used multiple times a day, each and every day, it still works EXACTLY as well as when I first bought it about 4 months ago.  This definitely one of my favorite Homemade products!

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  1. Anonymous says

    Ok… so first off the directions are totally wrong. The correct directions are 1 tablespoon of ANY liquid soap refill of your choice to EVERY 1/4 cup of COLD water. You NEED the soap to make the solution worthwhile otherwise just wash your hands with water. Hot water is NOT needed and this person that wrote this obviously doesn't know what they're talking about and just wanted 15 minutes of fame.
    It totally depends on the punp bottle you have. I use the "Dial" foaming pump bottles and I fill the bottom of the bottle about 1/2" up and the rest with just regular water from the tap. If you use hot water it will contract the space in the container (Simple science cold expands heat contracts) and ruin your container and possibly your pump. I've been doing this for about 5 or 6 years now since they first came out with the foaming pump.

  2. Em says

    So excited I came across this post because I had 3 empty dial foam pumps that I was about to recycle! I have the apple berry twist scent Gain dish soap and no one will ever be the wiser that this pretty pink hand soap was refilled! Your recipe works great :)

  3. says

    Jill, I’ve making my own foaming soap since I bought my first one and ran out and found out how expensive it was going to be to keep up my habit. Thanks, though, for the exact formula. My attempts at mixing up a new batch are trial and error and add a little more of whatever if that didn’t work as desired. I think I have more of a comfort level with it now. Isn’t foamy soap wonderful.

  4. says

    I found out that if you save a gallon container of regular hand soap, I use soft soap clear and divide the soap in half between the two bottles add a slow stream of warm water to fill the containers and then mix by turning and twisting the container until the soap is mixed with the water. This gives you twice the amount of hand soap to use in the foaming dispensers. If you check in the store you will notice the only difference between regular hand soap and foaming is the foaming is much thiner. Try it out I save money and keep using the same dispensers for years. I love all your short cuts and homemade solutions for cleaning.

  5. Kelly says

    In my empty dial pump soap container I used 1/4 Dr. Bronner’s unscented baby-mild + 3/4 water (cold from the tap) then added peppermint essential oil (15-20 drops). I started the second batch when there was about 1/2″ left in the bottom. I didn’t add the essential oil the second time and the intensity of the scent is still perfect! So easy!

    • Rita Montague says

      I use Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap and either essential oil or fragrance oil. I’ve always used a 10:1 ratio (10 T. H2O to 1 T liquid castile soap. Actually, with the size bottle I am using, I use 1.5 T. soap to 15 T. water. It comes out very soft. Nice texture. A bottle of the soap lasts forever with this recipe. I then put in a few drops of scent. I choose a different one each time it’s empty for variety.

      I’ve found that if I use a moisturizing soap, it clogs up the works. Dr. Bronner’s is actually very gentle and not drying at all on the hands and face. Hair? Forget it.

  6. Helen Forbes says

    I use my favorite body wash a/ water for this. I found that the dish detergent can be tough on my hands. I do know that the soap you use must be what I call the “clear” or see thru kind. The ones w/ lotion or “cloudy” soaps don’t work well as a foaming hand wash. We really don’t need all the antibacteria solutioins they try to sell us. Just plain soap and warm water works to kill germs. I have done this for years.

  7. Sassenach says

    I have been doing the same with my “method” hand wash bottle, I have been adding 3 tablespoons of Mrs. Meyers Lemon Vervena hand wash liquid and fill it the rest with water, leaving some space at the top, it works the same if not better, and I’m happy saving some $$$ and still use my favorite soap!

  8. Dana says

    Thank you Jillee! I tried this today with much sucess. I also tried the peanut butter trick to get the sticky goo off after I peeled off the labels. A little elbow grease was necessary but it worked. I can’t believe how many years I have wasted money buying hand soap.

  9. Eileen says

    I just found your website, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get caught up with all your good recipes!! I’ve been refilling my foaming Dawn bottle since I first bought one–I just experimented until I found what would foam. I just put a turkey breast in the oven, and kept washing my hands after touching the raw meat and needing to touch something else. That got me to thinking about how you should sanitize cutting boards, sinks, etc., after using them for meat. Is it possible to add something to the foaming soap recipe to help to sanitize hands and work surfaces??

    • says

      There are essential oils that kill bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. Just add about 12 drops of a pure therapeutic grade essential oil (we use doTERRA) to your recipe (Melaleuca, Lavender, On Guard protective blend – wild orange, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, eucalyptus). Enjoy sanitzing naturally without harsh chemicals =)! I like using 1/8-1/4 of Dr. Bronner’s unscented baby castile soap to 3/4 water and the essential oils. It even helps in healing rashes on my kiddo’s hands that they get from using commercial soaps outside our home.

  10. Vanessa says

    Ever since I saw this post I ran out to dollar tree (our $1 or less store) and purchased a bottle of foaming hand soap. We were running out of hand soap so, this came just in time!! We finally finished off the dollar store brand soap and I got to try out your recipe. The only “clear” or transparent soap I had on hand was my daughters Gerber body soap which is really thick, probably thicker than dish soap, but it worked great!!

    I just have one question…. What’s all the hype about foaming hand soaps??? Isn’t it just diluted soap?? Either way, I’m a fan because its saving me money, but I’m still kinda curious. :) thanks for recipe Jill!!!

  11. Shana says

    I use EO brand lavender aloe body wash or all purpose soap. I have an old Bath and Body works bottle that was lavender fragrance so no one even knows it isn’t a $7 bottle of hand soap.

  12. Vikki says

    Does anyone else have problems reusing Bath & Body Works foaming hand soap bottles? I can refill them once or twice and then they give out. It is very difficult to push the pump down. I am using B&BW deep cleansing antibacterial soap, not the lotion kind, to dilute and wonder if it’s the little exfoliating bits in there that is causing problems? I love making my own, thanks Jillee for all the wonderful tips!

    • Melissa says

      Yes! It is driving me crazy that I can’t get the pump to work. I have spent more time than I’d like to admit trying to pull it apart, clean it, reassemble it… to no avail.

      I am about to break down and go buy another B&BW soap because I also bought the cute metal “covers” for the bottles. Ugh.

    • Alicia says

      Not B&BW, but I’ve had problems with using Dial. Works great the first or second time it’s refilled, but after that, it either won’t go down or it won’t spring back up.

  13. Donna R. says

    Hey Jillee, been doing this since last summer when I caught up on all your old posts. I use the Walmart brand of the Hand Rejuvenation scent made by Dawn. Only used half of a two dollar bottle since last July and I’m refilling three pump containers. I don’t measure anymore, just pour a layer of the liquid into the bottom of the pump and refill.

    Regarding $$ store pumps, mine didn’t last beyond one refill, so better to buy Dial or more expensive pump. Also, when my pump gunks up, I run it under warm water and rod it out with a clean Q Tip and it’s like new.

  14. Linda Linton says

    I too have ben making my own pump soap for a number of years. My recipe is a little different regarding the ratios, but it sure saves money none-the-less. One thing I did find is that if you use a soap with “scrubbies” in it, the pump clogs or will not last. That bums me out because I did like the soaps with the “beads” or “scrubbies” in it, jus for the exfoliation process since I wash my hands so much! I just recently found this blog and I LOVE it! I am sharing it with friends a well. Keep the ideas coming jIllee!

  15. Stef says

    Ok. It took me a little longer than expected to actually get around to making this. We’ve been going in cycles with the flu and follow-up problems for 2 1/2 (!!!) weeks now. And we have fevers AGAIN today. I don’t know how we’re going to survive it. We’ve been using a “thieves” type EO, but really nothing seems to be working. Still doing daily ACV doses. (I’ve got some spark naturals on order including Shield since I trust you that it’s ingestible and the prices are awesome.)

    ANYWAY! (Now that I’m done whining like a child) I did manage to get this pulled together yesterday. And it is wonderful! I used 2 teaspoons of the liquid coconut oil (can’t think of the correct description right now) and 4 teaspoons of unscented, baby formula, castile soap. 5 drops of peppermint EO and 10 of Lavender EO. The rest is filtered water (bought at CVS). It smells wonderful and my hands feel so nice! Even the Hub ooh’d and ahh’d over the smell of it (you and I know it’s naturally antibacterial and antiviral!)

    Thank you, Jillee! You are wonderful!


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