Monday, June 24, 2013

Liquid Hand Soap

The DIY liquid hand soap I made a few years ago has been one of my most-visited posts.  I recently made it again, but changed up the recipe a little, so I'll share what I did differently!

What I loved about the first one was:
  • It made over a gallon of hand soap
  • It was free from hazardous crap like triclosan (in antibacterial soap; read more about it from the FDA, wikipedia, beyond pesticides, EPA, but essentially it can bioaccumulate, it's a hormone disruptor, and it isn't proven to be better than regular soap)
  • It was cheap
What I didn't love:
  • It kind of felt like snot
  • It didn't get sudsy enough for our tastes
  • My husband hated it

So I fixed all that!  This recipe still makes cheap, healthy handsoap, but doesn't feel like snot and gets plenty sudsy.  My husband had no idea it was homemade.

I picked up this yummy little soap at Homegoods for $3.  I simply went through them all and picked the one with the best scent that didn't have nasty chemicals in it.

  • 1.5 c grated soap
  • 2 T vegetable glycerin
  • 8 c water
  • It's the ratio that's important here.  If you grate your soap and get 3 cups, just double everything!

  • Grate the bar soap using one of the finest grating on your cheese grater
  • Add all ingredients to a large kitchen pot (it's OK to use a good one - it's just soap!)
  • Heat and stir until the soap is dissolved (I like to use a whisk)
  • Let cool completely to room temperature, so you know for sure you're not ending up with a brick of soap sponge (like the first time I ever tried this)
  • Fill up your containers!

The only bummer about using more soap in the recipe is that now it doesn't make as much.  Still, 2/3 of a gallon of hand soap for $3 is pretty darn good!  It also made less than the first time because the bar of soap was a good bit smaller.

Some hints:
  • If it turns into a spongey mess once it cools, just heat it back up and add more water
  • If it's too liquidy, first make sure it actually cooled all the way, then add more soap, reheat, etc.
  • I got my Glycerin at Whole Foods, but my readers say it's also available in pharmacies.  I paid about $6, but haven't even used half of it yet.
  • Avoid using soap with "stuff" in it, like tea leaves or exfoliating beads - they clog up your soap dispensers.


  1. Hi, great recipe; easy, fun and cheap. Thanks for posting! I made this yesterday with my BF, we made two separate batches. A couple of notes:

    1. Even after the soap cooled to room temperature (it felt cool to the touch) it was still very runny. We added some extra soap per your instructions, which did not help. We tested out the soap and even though it was really runny, we both liked it, so we poured it in the dispensers. Woke up this morning to thick soap! So, if anyone is not getting the thickness, maybe wait overnight and see if it sets instead of putting extra soap in. We were ready to go buy more soap and mix it in, but we didn't, and we're glad! Our recipe ended up being 8 C water, 2 T of the glycerin and 2 C of soap in each batch. It's nice and thick, but the extra will have to be heated before it can be poured into the dispensers to refill.

    2. We used plain, unscented soap and added essential oils to get a scent that we liked. I used 30 drops of lavender and can barely smell it, but the BF used about 40 drops of spearmint and it filled the house, haha. We like the natural color of the plain soap and the simple fragrances, so we're pretty happy with the results overall.

    Thanks again!

  2. I used coconut glycerin ... Is that why it's so liquidy?

  3. Added two bars of soap and it is still totally clear liquid... Help please!!!!


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