Make Your Own “Resort Quality” Liquid Hand Soap for Pennies!

Whenever I go to our local thrift store…I’m always drawn to the room with all the health and beauty odds and ends because they have a big basket FULL of wonderful smelling soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners that come from fancy resorts and hotels in the area. (There are a lot around here, trust me!)

The little bottles of lotion are the perfect size for keeping in your purse, the shampoos and conditioners are great for travelling (unless you’re staying in a fancy hotel, then you’re already covered) and the soaps (about .10 cents each), I have discovered, are perfect for making great-smelling liquid hand soap!

While I was working on the boys bathroom “mini-makeover” I came across a really old bottle of Dial liquid hand soap tucked in a drawer. I realized the new set-up called for a nice, new bottle of soap, but I just can’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good containers! So I decided it was time to try my hand at making one of the few homemade solutions I haven’t tried yetliquid hand soap (then refilling the bottle I already had with it).

liquid hand soap

I’m sure many of you reading this have seen “recipes” for making your own liquid hand soap from bar soap before…so this isn’t anything new. Truthfully, when I’m in the kitchen I usually just use a drop or two of dishwashing liquid because it’s what’s “handy”, but it’s not so great for your hands. The “hotel” soaps, however, are usually labelled as “facial bars”, so I figure if they’re gentle enough for your face…they’ve got to be nice for your hands too. And did I mention how NICE they smell?? :-)

liquid hand soap

The method for making your own liquid hand soap could NOT be any easier.

liquid hand soap

liquid hand soap

All you need to do is grate the soap (I actually put mine in the blender)…dissolve it on the stove in hot, distilled water (be patient, it takes awhile), add some glycerin which helps moisturize the skin, and wait. About 24 hours is what I’ve found to be ideal.

Liquid Hand Soap Recipe

(1) 8 oz. bar of soap, grated (or equivalent of smaller sized bars…I used 6 ‘hotel-sized’ bars)
Note:  if you are “allergic” to grating…you can also stick it in a food processor or blender, you can melt soap in the microwave, or SEE NICOLE’S COMMENT BELOW! Great idea!

2 Tablespoons glycerine (found in pharmacy. It’s over-the-counter but I had to ask the pharmacist)

1 gallon water (doesn’t HAVE to be distilled, but using distilled or purified water will make the soap more effective and keep it smelling fresher, longer.)

Then you will have approximately 1 gallon of some of the nicest liquid hand soap you’ve ever used.

liquid hand soap

After it had cooled, I gave it a good whisking (you can also use a mixer) because it will thicken quite a bit overnight……

liquid hand soap

….and poured it into these mason jars for storage. Now all I have to do when I run out is take the top off my DIY Mason Jar Soap Dispenser and pop it onto another jar.

Pretty slick huh?  Not bad for about .60 cents. :-)


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    • Sarah says

      I make the foaming stuff out of regular handsoap. Fill up a foaming dispenser 2/3 water and 1/3 handsoap (water first). I shake it very gently and I have foaming handsoap for a fraction of the cost. I usually buy a big refill jug of the handsoap so I can always make the foaming stuff.

      • sarah i. says

        Question, Sarah – have you tired using this homemade soap in a foam dispenser? I use those for my kids, and I’ve always refilled like you’ve described, but I wondered if the homemade soap would be the right consistency??

  1. chelsie says

    Ive done this before for body wash and it doesnt lather like regular liquid soap and tends to congeal so that it all sticks together. Probably wouldn’t do this method again.

  2. Linda says

    I did this once before, also. After the first 24 hrs it was too thick, added more water (I didn’t use distilled, maybe that’s where I went wrong.) Then it was the consistency of snot (not attractive at all). I used an old bar of Bath & Body Works. I’m willing to try again, more details, please, Jillee.

  3. Sara says

    For those who like myself are allergic to the granting part, you can pop any bar of soap in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high for 30-45 seconds. With ivory (my go to bars) it puffs up and others become melty. Either way you can then dissolve it in your already boiling water. No grating involved.

    • Cate says

      I was wondering the same thing, I was going to swap cocnut oil for the glycerin, but then I found some olive oil soap so I’ve used that instead … we’ll see if it works, it’s cooling right now :)

  4. Susan says

    I’ve been making large amounts of body wash and storing it in gallon sized containers that vinegar or apple juice comes in. That way my husband never runs out and he’s happy!

  5. says

    I don’t like to grate soap so I get lazy. I just hack up a bar with a knife into maybe 1/2 inch or so chunks and put it in a jar, then fill with water and screw the lid on tight. Shake well right then, and again any time I happen to walk by. Usually within 24 hours the soap is completely dissolved but sometimes it takes a little longer. I can then warm it enough to incorporate the glycerin and mix well.

  6. Alice says

    Here are some of the reasons I don’t use those smelly soaps. I am trying to stay away from the chemicals and what not that can be harmful.
    Fragrances in soap can irritate the skin. Some fragrances contain phthalates, and some studies connect phthalates with reproductive problems. This is true in both people and animals. Many artificial colors in soap are actually petroleum-based chemicals. The skin can absorb these potentially harmful chemicals through the pores.

    Many different brands of soap add sodium laurel (or laureth) sulfate. This chemical surfactant is used to improve lather. This additive, however, can cause skin irritation. As little as a .05 percent concentration is capable of causing irritation according to a 1983 report of the Journal of The American College of Toxicology (ACT). The concentration can be as high as 30 percent in some soap on the market. This is considered to be a dangerous chemical level according to the same ACT report.

  7. says

    I love you guys/gals! I realized the second my head hit my pillow after posting this that I’d completely forgotten to include the amounts of stuff! doh!
    I KNEW you would “call me out” on it! lol! Thanks for keeping me honest. :-) I’ve updated the post.

    • Sandie says

      I just ordered some very resonable essential oils from “The Puritan’s Pride” Make sure you put the “The” in when searching or it will bring up all kinds of things. They were very resonable and someone else suggested Do Terra but their prices were 4.5 times as much. Not sure what the quality difference there would be to be able to charge so much but maybe I missed something. Hope this helps!

  8. Nancy says

    I LOVE making my own soap. My husband was very apprehensive at first and the soap’s “snotty” consistency definitely threw us off a little bit. But, we quickly got used to it and when we ran out, the husband asked me for days “Are you ever going to make any more of that soap!?!?!” I have noticed my second batch was not as snotty….I don’t know if I stirred it more or added more water but we are happy with it!

        • LN says

          No it is not. Many studies have proven that any “preservative effect” it has is due to chemical contamination. Even without contamination at best it is

          Neither is Vitamin E (suggested below)- it will stave off rancidity in oils but will NOT prevent bacteria from growing.

          And neither is any essential oil. By themselves they do have antimicrobial properties but there are a whole host of factors that come into play when preserving a batch of something such as this (pH, chemical composition of the original “soap” used, whether the original “soap” was actually soap or a detergent bar, etc). Plus you would need huge amounts to effectively prevent nasties from growing.

          Your best bet is to use distilled water, sterilize everything and make SMALL batches. The sad truth is that there is no “natural” preservative that is effective for very long and any time you add water to something you create a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi. As I said previously, there are many factors that come into play re whether a preservative (natural or otherwise) is compatible with this recipe. I’d be really curious to see a slide of this stuff under a microscope after a few weeks.

      • says

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        but I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours.

        It is pretty value sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made
        good content as you probably did, the net can be much more useful than ever before.

  9. Marci says

    Ok, I am probably the laziest person on the planet…but this I MUST try! (Along with your other DIY recipes!!) The only question I have – and it’s probably a ridiculous one – is when you say “grating” do you mean using a cheese grater?

    • Missy says

      I haven’t tried this recipe yet, but I do make my own laundry detergent. After grating the first time and feeling like I could not get soap powder from my sinuses, I switched to microwaving the soap. Zap it a little first (30 seconds at a time…every bar of soap is different based on size, brand, etc.), chop them into cubes (easy when soap has been softened), and then toss the cubes into the food processor that I use for all of my homemade cleaning products.

  10. Patricia Williams says

    YAY! I usually send these samples on to whoever is having the drive for them but found a small bag last night and didn’t know what to do. Now, I know. For those of you who camp, these small sizes are great for taking to the showers so it won’t matter as much if you forget and leave your soap/shampoo/etc., in the shower.

  11. Jen E says

    Please be careful with this esp if you make a lot and don’t add a preservative. Even if you use distilled water you can still get nasties growing in it. People and children with immune disorders can get really sick from these germies in it. Case in point I read one person that was sick in the hospital with a infection and they couldn’t figure out what was going on. They found was using lotion from a crafter that was not preserved and it had the same bacteria that she had in her system so please be careful :)
    Please note: Vitamin e, GSE & rosemary oleoresin are not preservatives.
    God Bless!

  12. Alisha says

    Thanks Jillee, I went right out and bought the stuff to do this, but was waiting on the update, cuz I’m like that. Also I’m adding some essential oils to mine. Update you later on that. Question is boiling water the same as distilled? Just curious.

    • Tracey Tilson says

      Distilled water is water that has many of its impurities removed through distillation. Distillation involves boiling the water and then condensing the steam into a clean container.
      Here’s a way to make your own distilled water at home: Take a good size cooking pot with lid and a small heavy cup. Put a little water in the bottom of the pot and set the heavy cup in the middle of it. It needs to be heavy enough not to float. Now put the lid on upside down so the dome of it is sinking down into the pot and put some ice into the lid. Put the whole thing on the stove and turn it on.
      Here is how it will work: The water will turn to steam and when it hits the lid with ice it will condense and run down the dome of the lid and drip off into the cup. The water in the cup will now be “distilled”. (I found that on

  13. Jolene says

    Thank you for posting this! My husband doesn’t like the foaming hand soap, so was hoping for a liquid recipe. As for the bacteria thing, the base ingredient is regular bar soap, that alone should help with any bacteria fears. Also, I get city water, ie, it’s full of clorine which kills off just about everything. I’m hoping I can find glycerine soon so I can give a few of these recipes a try. Thanks again for all you and your friend google do!

    • ANNE says

      Kirks Castille just the scent of it brings back memories of visiting my grandparent. It was all they used. Doesn’t lather much so don’t expect it in this soap but VERY gentle on the skin.

  14. Sarah S says

    I did this a few months ago too, and here are a few things I learned: Be careful if you try to microwave your bar of soap. The one I used foamed up and burned, it smelled HORRIBLE! I didn’t use Ivory, which I think doesn’t have as much weird stuff in it like the bar that I used, which apparently just inflated as it was microwaved. I ended up grating which was the worst part, but I didn’t even think about putting it in the food processor! I will definitely do that next time!
    The recipe I had called for like 4 full bars of soap, and it made over 2 gallons of the stuff, I would suggest just starting with one bar of soap (or 4 resort bars) so you figure out what works best. I used 2 different types bars, one didn’t have much of a smell the other did. I’d just make sure if you use different ones that they have complementary smells. For example I probably wouldn’t pair a lemongrass with eucalyptus :)
    Also, the soap congealed overnight and it was like a big huge bar of soap. The amount of water you will need depends on how much water is already in the bar of soap you are using (so like the types of soap that will end up cracking and breaking when they get really small don’t have much water in them, so you might need more) I had to put the congealed soap with more water in the blender, and that seemed to work fine. I did, however, end up with a liquid soap the consistency snot. Not the really runny, water like snot, the type of snot that is cloudy, stringy and is hard to wipe off :) It doesn’t later, either but that doesn’t matter to me. I have heard people doing this with castille soap (like Dr. bronners) because its much cheaper to buy the bar yourself and do it then to buy it in liquid form. Also, my recipe didn’t call for glycerin, any science people out there know what the addition of glycerin does for the liquid soap?
    For me, making my own liquid soap not about being trendy or even being green (although that’s a nice addition) Its about getting by with what I already have. Its about knowing more, and needing less. That’s why I love this blog! I have also, recently started getting essential oils (in part because of this blog!) and am super excited for my next batch b/c I will use a scent free soap and make my own scent! :) Here’s to a less snotty batch next time!!

    • Rhonda says

      The glycerine ( and I recommend vegetable glycerine oil or emulsion) is a skin softener, that’s really all it is for in this instance. Altho I have made a bodywash using bar soap (the ones labeled “moisture bar”), I like dove or olay, water, vegetable glycerine and just a touch of coconut oil (because it is so good for the skin – and I love the smell of coconut!)and I didn’t have an issue with sliminess. The soap has a slight tendency to separate, kind of congealed on top and more watery on the bottom, but all I do is is give it a quick shake before washing and it’s perfect! Good luck!

    • kat davis says

      My hubby is immuno-suppressed to treat an illness. I love foaming antibacterial soap, but it can get pricey on our budget, what will all the meds, etc. I have learned from the doc that we can take one small (99cent stuff) antibacterial pump soap from the local discount store, and add it to one gallon of distilled water. We do put in a small amount of food grade food coloring, to make certain that no one drinks it. Works wonderfully, and we go through a ton of hand washing at our house. Without this, I would be buying 8 to 10 small pumps a month… 99cents for the soap, and 88cents for distilled water…

  15. says

    Hi there, Elizabeth! I am just loving this site – and have a question for you about “grating” soap.

    If I use my blender, or my food processor to grate soap, will I be relegating it to “no longer safe for food?”

    I need to know!


    • Missy says

      One person I know said that we use soap to clean our blenders or food processors, so all we’d really have to do is rinse all of the soap off. I rarely use a food processor for food; in fact, all I have is a little one called Short Order Cook that I use for all of my DIY cleaning products.

  16. heather says

    I used my food processer and boy was it a pain to clean afterwards. I used it with fels naptha to make laundry detergent. It gets stuck in every little crevice. I wash mine out really well afterwards so I can still use it for food. But it is better than hand grating. I am looking forward to trying this recipe someday, because I do love how yours look in the jars (awesome idea!) Right now we use foam soap containers with liquid Dr bronners and water mixed. Got to start collecting hotel soaps while I wait for my other stuff to run out!

  17. Kris says

    My soap turned out so slimy and snotty. Is there anyone that has made a batch and not had this same result? What kind of soap is the best to use? Is it necessary to add glycerin if there is glycerin in the bar of soap already? I’m frustrated…

    • Shawna says

      I used Kiss My Face bar soap. It was the lavender and olive oil scent. It contains no glycerin and my soap turned out runny. It works just fine, but I expected something thicker…but mine is definitely NOT slimy.

  18. Brooke says

    I used a bar of handmade soap that my mother made. It turned out really thin and clear. I saved it for about a month and a half before using it and now it’s cloudy with some little whiteish beads/balls in it… Any idea what’s going on? Did it go bad on me?

    • Dee says

      I had the same thing happen to mine, I used kirks. I just added a bit more boiled water and hit it with my immersion blender. I think it is the soap bar colacing. Mine became thick like shaving cream. Which didn’t bother me so much.

  19. Brookee says

    I used Dove bar soap and it does not work. It’s just soapy water 12 hours later. I read on a few other posts that its knowen to not work because of the 1/4 lotion in it…Too bad i didnt see that before using it:/ I read that you can add another 8 oz grated dove soap, return to heat and let cool for another 12 hours. I thought about just dumping my batch and using a different bar soap but I’d always wonder if the second 8 oz. would make the difference. So I’m trying it right now, fingers crossed!!

    • Brookee says

      I am replying to my own comment. After adding another 8 oz. of grated Dove soap I was still left with “soapy water”. I googled options to (yet again) try to thicken my soap in a last ditch effort to salvage it but I came up empty handed:( Finally I scrapped the batch and dumped it out. Just thought I’d make an update so no one else makes my little mistake:/ we are making a new batch this weekend but using different brand of soap.

      • Cathy says

        I had the same result as you Brookee, the mixture was just watery soap. I am very disappointed that I did not read about using Dove soap ahead of time. I will try another soap. It would be a good idea if this information was added above in the recipe section so others don’t go through the same thing. I am excited to give it another go though! Thanks so much for the money saving ideas!

      • Rhonda says

        When I made liquid bodywash with the dove soap it worked, but that recipe called for 2 cups of distilled water to every 4 oz bar of soap, it actually specified that you SHOULD use the bars that said 1/4 lotion or moisture bar. using that recipe and 2 TBSP of vegetable glycerine and a touch of coconut oil (just bc I like it, smells great and is amazing for the skin) and it came out perfect after letting it cool and set overnight and then shaking it up ( I stored it in mason jars). sometimes when it is cold it congeals a bit and I just quickly shake it and it works great, the heat of the shower keeps the congealing down while we bathe as well.

  20. theresa says

    just getting started, read a lot of comments that grating bar soap is a pain- just found out how true that is! since i take it as a challenge to make my handmade stuff as ‘old school’ as possible- i.e. as little electric power as possible- i cast about the kitchen & grabbed my vegetable peeler- shaves bar soap like butter (stick a fork in the bar as a holder when bar gets small). i also use solar to melt stuff- as simple as foil in a south window works well. ADDICTED to this blog- very hard to stop reading while furiously taking notes, & get to work! :-)

  21. Sharianne says

    Floor soap from a bar of soap.
    First though – This blog is great!
    So I did this by accident but thought I would share. My dogs started slipping and sliding around on my wood floors about 3 weeks ago and I couldn’t figure out what to do. Then I started slipping too and I realized that the aromatherapy oil that I had been putting on my feet must have gotten tracked around then mopped around on the floors. How to get the oil off? I tried Pine-sol which did not work. Then I remember the all natural bar of soap my hard core professional aromatherapist friend had given me that smelled great but just ripped the oils out of my skin rendering it unusable. (And this is “soap” soap, not a chemical “cleansing” bar like Dial or Dove.) So I washed the dogs feet with the bar soap and some water. Which improved their traction but not completely.
    Then I put the motel size bar of soap in a bucket of water – maybe a gallons worth of water – and just let it dissolve for about an hour. It didn’t dissolve even close to all the way but the water looked a little milky. I shook it around in the water with my hand too. Anyway, I used that soapy water to mop the wood floors and voila! The excess oil was gone and the dogs are walking normally again. That got me to thinking about how to make more soap from a bar and I found this blog. After reading all the posts I guess there is no huge need to make a batch of it, I can just let it dissolve each time like I did before.
    I am going to try the liquid hand soap ideas though – sounds cool!

    • Lisa S says

      Sharianne, I know this is way late in responding, but I have just found this site!! My husband owns a wood flooring business, and you can guess that most of my floors are wood! The absolute best cleaner, based on cutting grease, and preserving the floor for future restoration, is hot water with vinegar added to it. Almost any other product will leave a little coating on the floor and sometimes it becomes impossible for your contractor to refinish it after several years. They have a really hard time getting the new finish to look good because of residue from cleaning products. Just thought I’d throw in a little info for anyone that may come across this. I love this site!!!


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