DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap

For a number of weeks I have been bragging about my homemade, almost free, DIY soft soap.  Surprisingly, only a couple of readers had called me on the fact that I have been sending out teasers, one right after another.

DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival

So okay, no more teasing.  Today I am going to share with you my DIRT CHEAP SOFT SOAP.  And by dirt cheap, I mean as low as 80 cents or less for a gallon jug of the stuff.  Now I like a bargain as much as the next person, but this is so good and so cheap that I am wild and insanely crazy about it.  And the best part about it is that I only had to purchase one item to make up a batch of this wonderful stuff – namely a bottle of vegetable glycerin.

So how did I do it?  Let me share the basic recipe.

How to Make Dirt Cheap Soft Soap

The basic ingredients of Dirt Cheap Soft Soap are bar soap, water and glycerin.  In addition, you can add some essential oils for fragrance but that is totally optional and not needed if you start out with scented bar soap.

Ingredients:

1 cup grated bar soap
10 cups water, preferably filtered
1 tbl glycerin
1 – 2 tsp essential oils, optional

Directions:

1.  Grate the soap.

I used my Cuisinart for the first two batches which was pretty wild.  The soap grated up up into a fine powder that floated about my kitchen.  It smelled heavenly – clean and fresh – but it looked like smoke.  In subsequent batches, I used an old fashioned box grater.  I grated a full-sized bar of Yardley Oatmeal and Almond soap in less than 5 minutes.

     DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival

2.  Place the grated soap flakes into a large pot and add the water and glycerin.

I used filtered water (what I call Berkey water) because I did not want strange odors in my soap.  And our tap water does smell like a hot tub if you know what I mean – pretty icky.

DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival          DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival

3.  Put the pot on the stove and turn the burner up to a medium heat.

After about a minute, you will see the flakes dissolve.  This happened a lot quicker with my Cuisinart soap – say about 1 minute – but the grated soap only took a minute or so longer.  At this point I took my whisk and whipped up my brew into a heavenly, bubbly froth.  You probably do not need to do this but I had read on forums where the some homemade soft soap was more like snot (sorry) and I did not want that!

I whisked away and practically doubled the quantity of soap in the pot.

DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival     DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival

4.  Set your homemade soap aside to cool.  Let it sit overnight or for a few hours at a minimum.

Dirt Cheap Soft Soap (which I named, by the way) will get thicker as it cools.  I have found that different soaps thicken differently.  Some got too thick so I simply added more water the next day and whisked it up some more to blend it all together.

5.  Pour your Dirt Cheap Soft Soap into containers.

For each batch I used 2 re-purposed 1/2 gallon apple juice jugs as storage containers.  I used a funnel which helps a lot.  I then used the juice jugs to fill my counter top soap dispensers.

DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival     DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival

Tips and Hints

The cheapest way to make this soap is to use freebie bars of soap that you have saved over the years from hotel rooms or in my case, cruise ships.  I always take these little travel toiletries with me when I check out since I did pay for them, right?  So maybe they were not exactly free but you know what I mean.

I also used some scented gift soaps that were given to me years ago.  I do not use bar soap at all so these have been languishing in a box under the sink for ages.  The latest batch was made using a bar of Yardley Oatmeal and Almond  bar soap that I purchased at the dollar store.

I did add about 2 teaspoons of lavender essential oil to the hotel/cruise ship soap version but the scented soaps retained their pleasant smell without the need for anything else.  And even the hotel soaps smelled nice but I happen to love lavender so there you go.

Different types of soaps may produce different results.  Do not be afraid to add more water if your soap is too thick.  And also, don’t feel that you need to have fluffy soap.  I just happen to like it that way.  Experiment and have fun with it.

The quantity may vary from batch to batch.  It may be the soap, the humidity, the whisking – who knows?  Expect some variability and go with the flow.

I have not tried it, but if you are using a high quality bar soap (perhaps one of those gift soaps), you may be able to leave out the glycerin.  Like I said, I have not tried it and the glycerin was cheap enough.

The basic recipe can be doubled or cut in half or even fourths.  I have had the same success no matter what.

Cost Breakdown

At $6.46 for 4 ounces, I probably overpaid for the glycerin since you can purchase a full 16 ounces online for a lot less ($8 at Amazon).  No worries, that still works out to 80 cents per batch and next time I will purchase a larger quantity to bring the cost per tablespoon down.  (Remember, there are 2 tablespoons to each fluid ounce).

The 4.25 ounce bar of soap made up 1 1/2 cups of grated soap so with each batch I had some leftover for next time.  Working the math though, I come up with .67 cents per cup of soap (assuming you paid a dollar), so the total cost for a full gallon using purchased soap was $1.47.  Compare this to the cost of a one gallon jug of “Softsoap Moisturizing Hand Soap” at Costco for about $11.

The Final Word

The Survival Husband simply loved this stuff from the get go.  I had no idea he felt our day to day name-brand soft soap was drying and rough.  Go figure.  And me?  I feel like a chemist when I stir up a batch and the clean up is a breeze.  It is soap, after all.

The other thing I want to mention is that Dirt Cheap Soft Soap is my name for this stuff.  I made it up and I think it fits.

I would love to have you try this and share your comments and experience with the rest of us.  Let me know how it all works out.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

Gaye

Bargain Bin:  If you are planning to mix up some Dirt Cheap Soft Soap, check around your home.  Chances are you already have everything you need except, perhaps, the glycerin.

NOW Solutions Glycerin 16-Fluid Ounces:  Compared to what I paid, this is a real bargain.  I have been purchasing the NOW brand of essential oils and have been very happy with them, even though they appear to be budget prices.

NOW Foods Lavender Oil:  Pick you scent.  I happen to like lavender but seems to me that peppermint, orange or rose would work wonderfully as well.

Yardley of London Naturally Moisturizing Bar Soap: The Yardley soap worked well and can be found at the dollar store but the available scents are limited.  Amazon or even your local drug store will have more variety.DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival

Box-style Hand GraterDIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival:  As easy as it was to use the Cuisinart, it just felt “better” to grate the bard soap by hand.

OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Funnel and Strainer SetDIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival:  This is the set I have in my kitchen.  OXO products are known for their quality and usability.  And here is a hint.  If you purchase an OXO product and don’t like it, send them an email or give them a call and they will refund your money.  I bet you did not know that!

Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid CleanserDIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival: I know that Dr. Bronner’s Magic Castile soaps have a cult-like following but I prefer the Sal Suds.  I call my DIY cleaner “Sudsy Sal”.

Soft ‘n Style 8 oz. Spray BottlesDIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival: I happen to like these smaller bottles and you can not beat the price for a set of 3.  Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival

Umbra Vapor Glass Soap PumpDIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap   Backdoor Survival: I have been collecting glass pump bottles for years but you can also use re-purposed – you guessed it – soft soap bottles.


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Comments

DIY Cleaning: Dirt Cheap Soft Soap — 21 Comments

  1. I’ve read multiple recipes along those same lines on frugal blogs. One just yesterday. I don’t think you should imply that people back off from using the name Dirt Cheap Soft Soap – you didn’t invent it, or the name.

  2. Thank you Survival Woman for sharing your helpful ideas and tests. I did make a batch of of this soap using the Yardley $ store brand soap bar. I got 1/4 less than your quantity…perhaps because I did not whip it beyond a small froth. Does the soap retain any of the antibacterial properties of the lavandar essential oil in addition to the fragrance?

    • That is an excellent question. My guess is yes – especially if you are generous with the amount that you use. And yes, my soap was pretty sudsy. Now the funny thing is that some batches stay that way while others settle down after a bit. There is no logic to it – which makes this so much fun LOL.

  3. ive ordered a soap FOAMING dispenser. do you think this would work. just curious. wondered if maybe thats what you’re using. thanks for the recipe for DIRT CHEAP :) susy

  4. I made soap according to directions. 1 cup grated soap (I used Irish Spring), 10 cups of water and 1 Tbls of glycerin, and heated on medium heat till hot & disolved… BUT my soap is not thickening! It is staying water runny. I even took a small amount out and put in the fridge to make cold instead of room temperature. HELP!

    • I do know that different soaps give different results. This happened to me with the batch I made this weekend (I am making extra soft soap for my friends) so I put it all back in the pot, added a tablespoon of additional soap flakes, and re-cooked the whole thing. I made sure the soap mixture was really dissolved this time.

      I left it in the pot overnight just to see if it would thicken up and it did – perhaps too thick. I don’t know if it was the additional cooking or the extra soap that did the trick but I would give this a shot. If it is still not thick enough, keep adding soap flakes 1 tablespoon at a time and re-cook.

      Be sure to report back in the results :)

      • I got it to work! First, I was expecting it to thicken as soon as it cooled. That was not the case. Maybe its a combination of time & temperature? I split the batch in to 3. 1/3 in the cooking pan, 1/3 in a plastic bowl left sitting on counter top, and 1/3 in plastic bowl I put in fridge. The one in fridge thickened first, but it turned to “snot” consistancy even after beating with electric hand mixer until frothy. I had frothy snot! The plastic bowl thickened next with a tiny bit of slimy froth texture. The metal pan thickened last. It was not slimy or snotty! It took the longest, but turned out the best :) thank you for your help!

  5. I am going to try this today, but I don’t have glycerin. I read another recipe that calls for 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Have you tried this? I was also thinking of adding some moisturizer, but maybe the olive oil would be enough. Thanks for all the ideas everyone!!

  6. I’ve made homemade soaps in the past as a hobby and you can use different oils; almond, olive, coconut, glycerin even vitamin e oil. Different oils have different properties. I will probably be trying this out soon to help cut costs some. I have 4 different foaming dispensers in the house plus the kids go through “body wash” like crazy. You can easily use regular soft hand soap for foaming dispensers, simply use about 1/3 soap to 2/3s water. Depending on the soap it might be too thick or thin, just add more soap if too thin and more water if too thick.
    Thanks for sharing this Gaye.

  7. I just finished making 5 gal. laundry detergent. I’m too tired to take on another task today, but maybe tomorrow. Love all the help that you give us as we learn step by step to be sufficient and able to sustain ourselves without depending on the grocery stores for everything. Thank you again.

  8. my soap is sooo runny! Its like it never got thick. What can I do?? Should I put it back on the heat and add more soap flakes??

    • Linda – Yes, definitely. What type of soap did you use? Some soaps work better than others. Using the Yardly soap, I had to add additional soap flakes in order to get the consistency I wanted. Using “hotel” soaps, it comes out perfectly every time. Good luck!

  9. I’ve not long been making my products at home, but this is very similar to the method I use to make laundry detergent. Since I bought a jar of coconut oil for a recipe, I may try this with it. I also need to find a source for more essential oils. Lavender gives my wife headaches and we both love citrus, so that’s on my list. I love the simplicity (and the chemistry) of making cleaning products!
    I’m curious about one thing. My laundry soap has a tendency to separate between washing sessions (once a week). Does this separate?
    Thanks for everything you share, Gaye!

    • I once made a double-strength batch of laundry soap and it too separated. And then another time, I did not use boiling water to dissolve the powders and the same thing happened.

      I now stick to the recipe and make sure the powders are fully dissolved before topping the jug with additional water.

      You can find links on my website to Spark Naturals for essential oils. Us the code BACKDOORSURVIVAL to get 10% off. I use their products exclusively for healing purposes. For soaps, I use the less expensive NOW Foods essential oils that I purchase on Amazon.

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