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DIY Foaming Hand Soap

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
DIY Foaming Hand Soap

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I have a confession to make.  I have always hated those foaming soap dispensers that are ubiquitous in public restrooms.  To me, they are a watery, slimy mess that leaves hands feeling sticky and icky no matter how hard you work at rinsing after the fact.

That being said, I wanted an alternative to the Dirt Cheap Soft Soap that is crafted in my kitchen every month or two.  While not difficult to make, it does take some time and a bit of a mess.  Plus, as those of you that have tried it know, it sometimes takes a bit of tinkering to bring it to that just-perfect texture.

DIY Foaming Hand Soap | Backdoor Survival

Thus started my exploration into making my own foaming hand soap.  I needed a benchmark so I started out by purchasing some Method Foaming Hand Soap from the local supermarket.  My thought was that I could then re-purpose the container to use when making my own DIY version.

Two things happened along the way.  First, I loved the foaming hand soap. It was not even remotely similar to the commercial stuff used in public places.  Second, repurposing the container after the fact was a total waste of time.  It started to fail early on and never did work right.

From there I was on a mission to make my own liquid foaming hand soap and let me tell you, there is now going to be no turning back. This stuff is fantastic.  It is rich and creamy and not at all slimy.  It smells heavenly and leaves my hands with a nice, smooth and moisturized feeling after the fact.  Plus, it is a cinch to make and there is no mess to clean up.

DIY Foaming Hand Soap | Backdoor Survival

DIY Foaming Hand Soap (So Simple Anyone Can Make It)

If you are expecting a complicated recipe, look elsewhere because this is so easy peasy that I am browbeating myself not trying it sooner.  Plus, as you will learn below, it only costs about $1.10 for a large, 12 ounce bottle of the best darn hand soap you will ever use.


10 ounces of water (distilled or filtered water is best; I use Berkey water)
2 ounces liquid castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s)
8 to 10 drops of essential oil (optional)
Foaming Dispenser (I like this one)


Add the water to your dispenser.  Top with liquid castile soap and your essential oils if you are using them.  Give everything a good shake and you are good to go.

Note:  the ratio of castile soap to water is 1:5 so if your container is smaller or larger, you can adjust the amounts accordingly.

That is it.  Were your expecting something difficult?

Variations to Personalize Your Foaming Hand Soap

For the ultimate flexibility, use unscented liquid castile soap and add your own essential oils  This is an especially good solution when you want to mix up a variety of “flavors”.  Perhaps you want to use lemon, as an example, in the kitchen and tea tree (melaleuca) in the bathroom.  Or the other way around.  During the winter cold and flu season, you might want to add some oregano essential oil or even some Shield Protective Blend (a thieves-like blend) to add some extra protection to your wellness arsenal.

All that being said, soap would make an excellent use for your inexpensive oils since they are, after all, going down the drain.  Some may think making this statement is travesty but as far as I am concerned, it is what it is.

For my own use, I have chosen to purchase Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap that is pre-scented.  Call me a sucker for those crazy hallucinogenic labels on the bottles, but I have the Lavender, Tea Tree, Hemp Rose, and Peppermint.

By the way, if you love the smell of Rose essential oil but not the price, try Geranium instead.  I like to use it in the diffuser at bedtime since it is so calming and puts me in the right frame of mind for sleeping.

DIY Means Saving Money

I ran some rough calculations on the cost of making your own liquid foaming hand soap.  I did not want to include the cost of the foamer (container) itself since the type you use is a matter of choice.

Using a quality foaming soap such as Method, I came up with $5.00 for a 28 ounce refill pouch (remember, I did not want to include the cost of the foaming dispenser which can run from free for a repurposed container to $10 or $20 depending on how fancy you want to get).  That works out to 17 cents an ounce, pre-diluted.  To fill a 12 ounce container, your cost will be $2.04.

Purchasing Dr, Bronners is not the cheapest way to go but convenient.  At about $18 for a 32 ounce bottle, that works out to 56 cents an ounce.  To fill a 12 ounce container you only need two ounces at an outside cost of $1.12.

Don’t you just love to save money?  Plus, you can use your liquid castile soap for so many other things.

A Word About Foaming Dispenser

I hesitate to recommend one specific foaming dispenser over another. Making things difficult is that online reviews are all over the board.  Although using a repurposed foamer might sound like a good idea, my repurposed Method soap dispenser failed almost immediately.  I also tried some inexpensive travel-sized foaming dispensers, but of the three I ordered, two were DOA.

On the other hand, the foaming dispenser in the picture has been functioning for about three weeks and is a keeper as far as I am concerned.  Your mileage may vary.


The Perfect Gift

This time of year we all have gift giving on the mind.  Let’s face it, some people are darn difficult to please.  Here is a suggestion: how about a bottle of liquid castile soap, a nice foamer bottle, and a fluffy hand towel?  Snuggle it all in a basket with some instructions for making the foaming hand soap and you are all set.

The Final Word

I have always sought out products that are both non-toxic and multi-purpose.  This includes personal products such as lotions, potions, and soaps in addition to household cleaners.  The thing is, over the years I have learned that some of the products I considered safe and natural were not.  For that reason I continue to study and educate myself and, when possible, make my own products.

In closing, I just want to remind you that as as preppers, we want to stock up on as few products as necessary to get the job done.  On my list are liquid castile soap, vinegar, club soda, and baking soda.  These items have a forever shelf life and, with the exception of the liquid castile soap, are dirt cheap.  And even the liquid castile soap, when diluted, is not a bad value.

Have fun making your own liquid foaming hand soap; once you start, you will never go back to buying pre-made hand soap at the store!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Below you will find the items related to today’s article.  Use them as a launching point for creating your own DIY Liquid Foaming Hand Soap!

Dr. Bronners Liquid Castile Soap :  I have grown to love Dr. Bronners soaps and am now using them exclusively not only in my household cleaners, but in DIY facial wipes and as a Tucker (the Dog) shampoo.  A little goes a long way so even though it may seem expensive, when you break down the cost of use, it is really quite reasonable.

InterDesign Duo Foaming Soap Dispenser Pump:  I have had good luck with this type of foaming soap dispenser.  There are lots of styles to choose from and you can even try repurposing those that come prefilled from the Dollar store.

Method Foaming Hand Soap :  If you want to try a decent foaming hand soap before making your own, I recommend the Method Brand.  I especially like that they are a responsible company that fully discloses all of the ingredients in their products along with what each one does. You can read more on their website.

Spark Naturals Essential Oils: I prefer essential oils from Spark Naturals.  They are high quality yet reasonably priced.  In addition, there are no membership fees and a distributor relationship is not necessary to get best pricing. Interested in checking them out? Backdoor Survival readers get a 10% discount by using coupon code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout!

NOW Foods Essential Oils :  For the most part, I use essential oils from Spark Naturals.  For healing purposes, I feel they are superior.  On the other hand, NOW Foods has decent essential oils at a budget price.  Here are a few to get you started:  NOW Foods Rosemary Oil, NOW Foods Peppermint Oil, and Now Foods Lavender Oil.  For a delightful smell just like roses, try Geranium in your soap or diffuser at a much lower cost.

ZAQ Noor Diffuser:  Of my three diffusers, this is my favorite and is therefore the one I recommend.  It puts out a strong, fragrant mist that is both soothing and healing.  My second most favorite is the ZAQ Dew (pictured below).  With both diffuser, the really cool thing is that the light (which can be turned off) changes colors all by its own self.  Very soothing and I love it!


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9 Best Essential Oils for Your Survival Kit | Backdoor Survival

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18 Responses to “DIY Foaming Hand Soap”

  1. I have been doing this with just generic bulk liquid soap for a couple of years but was having trouble with my pumps failing. What I found was the “creamy, satiny” looking soaps messed with the pump for some reason and made the pumps “fail”. The soaps I found consistently made beautiful, thick foam are the clear, jelly like liquid soaps. I fill about 1″ of the pump bottle with soap, add essential oils and water to the top, cap and swirl to incorporate. Works like a charm and like Gaye says feels thick and luxurious! PS don’t throw away the pumps that fail until you run water through them and try them with a different soap mixture,

  2. I bought a “Dove [brand soap]” foaming bottle -just to use for the bottle, after throwing out the soap it came with! Has been working great for almost 3 years now- when the bottle empties, I fill it with an inch of plain water and then squirt it all out! I dilute foaming hand soap from Tropical Traditions (I know you love this company, as do I!) even further- and it still works great! … I use the Dr. B castile soap in my kitchen dish liquid dispenser installed on top of the sink: I use it to wash my dishes! I especially love the hemp and peppermint scent! It’s very concentrated, so you only need a little bit. Last, if you read all of the “18 in 1” ways to use Dr. B’s castile soaps, you’ll find even more reasons to love it!

  3. So far, my recycled foaming pumps are holding up. For my 8.75 oz bottle I use about 6.5 oz water & 1.5 oz Bronner’s. I also add about a tsp. of coconut oil for extra moisturizing, a little more in winter than in summer. I’m on my 3rd batch throughout the house. Thanks for the recipe – I’ll never buy it again!

  4. Super great article! I love Dr. Bronners but it is expensive. If I am doing the math correctly your recipe cuts the cost by 4/5ths. Or saves 80% off the price of Dr. Bronners by making it last so much longer. AND potentizing the smell with your own essential oils. I have a large collection of oils. Can’t wait to try!

  5. That’s a great and simple DIY! Love it.
    I wouldn’t think club soda had a long shelf life. But I also don’t remember seeing that in your other articles. What are you using it for?

    • Club soda is a bit of a sleeper in that no one really says much about it. I started with a 3 year old bottle that has been in the car forever and find it amazing as a glass cleaner, stainless cleaner, and a general spot remover on carpets and clothing. I put it in a small spray bottle and use it as is with nothing added. I am working up an all new “what is in my cleaning bucket” article and will go into more detail about club soda at that time.

      Another thing: you can stockpile club soda for cleaning purposes but you can also drink it. Win win.

  6. Would it work to use the DIY version of liquid castile that is on your website? That would probably drop the cost even more if it could be substituted for the Dr. Bronners.

    • I don’t have any with me here in Arizona to test so I do not know. If you try it, be sure to let us know how it works.

      PS – I did purchase a bar of Bronner’s bar soap to make a batch but have not had time to get to it. Kirk’s has started to list some chemicals on their wrapper so I am no longer sure it is as toxic free as I would like. Still checking.

  7. Gaye,
    Have you been able to find Carnation oil/essence? My grandmother used to have a candle that smelled like the old fashioned heirloom Carnations. They smelled spicy not too overpowering and I believe she used to make hand soap with the flowers or the oil. I’d like to try and make soap and candles. The ones that are grown today have NO smell at all. It’s my favorite flower, DaHubs and I have been trying to find heirloom Carnation seeds so I can grow my own. Sorry to be a bit “off-topic”

  8. I’ve been making my hand soap just like this for almost a year now, but I add a tablespoon or so of sweet almond oil and jojoba oil (I just squirt some in) and a dab of vitamin e oil. I will NEVER buy hand soap again! This stuff is awesome 🙂

    • I will give that a try with my next batch. The soap is already super moisturizing but this time of year my hands need all the help they can get. What type of foaming dispenser do you use?

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