Homemade Foaming Hand Soap

We all need to wash our hands, for a variety of reasons, throughout the day.  Making your own foaming hand soap is a quick, easy and frugal way to have safe and green hand soap, and avoid antibacterial soap containing triclosan.

Making your own foaming handsoap is so easy that I almost feel funny writing a post just about that, but I know there are a lot of you that are interested in using castile soap for your hand soap, so I wanted to share a quick and specific post about it.

Homemade Foaming Hand Soap


  • Foaming Soap Dispenser – I bought Method foaming soap from Target once and have just been using the same bottle to make my homemade version.  I think you can also buy foaming soap dispensers at places like Bed, Bath and Beyond, or online.
  • Liquid Castile Soap – any scent or brand is fine.  Because it is so diluted, the scent does not really matter very much. I usually use Dr. Bronner’s Uncscented Baby Mild, just because that’s usually the biggest bottle I have on hand.             5/11 Update:  Lately I’ve been using Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint castile soap and love the light, clean scent that it has.
  • Water

1. Fill up your bottle almost all the way with water.  You want to add the water first because if you add the soap first it will all bubble up and spill out as you fill it with water.

2. Add 1 +/- Tablespoon of castile soap to the bottle, put the pump on and shake it gently to incorporate the soap.  You may want to adjust the amount of soap based on the type of water you have, and your needs.  If you use too little soap, it will seem hard to spread around on your hands as you wash them.  If you use too much soap, it will feel too slippery and hard to rinse off.

I estimate that this costs about 20 cents for one bottle of foaming soap, depending on the cost of your castile soap and how much you use.  One bottle will last for a while, unless your kids get into it and go crazy squirting it and rubbing it all over their hands (and body)!  Kids love this stuff!

That’s it, it’s really that easy! You can’t beat this for easy, frugal, and green hand soap!

Here are lots of other great uses for castile soap!

If you’d like to learn more about living green and living frugally I’d love to have you as a Live Renewed reader!  You can subscribe, either by email or in a reader, to get the latest posts, tips and ideas for living frugally green.  We’ll be talking all about natural laundry in June, I’d love to have you join with me!


P.S. See that empty jar next to the jar with the q-tips in the top picture?  It used to hold cotton balls, but I decided I wanted to find a reusable alternative to buying cotton balls.  So, I’ve been knitting my own cotton “balls”.  Stay tuned for a post about that! Now if I could only figure out an alternative to q-tips?!

*Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.  I will receive a small commission for purchases made through my links.  Thanks for supporting Live Renewed!

Want to Read More?


  1. says

    I love making my own foaming hand soap! I now add a squirt of glycerin for extra moisture as well as citrus essential oils- lemon, grapefruit, and sweet orange. It smells wonderful and I love using the same bottles over and over again!

  2. says

    I feel kind of dumb for not knowing about this, so I’m glad you shared! :) I usually spend a litte more on hand soap (since I want to buy non-toxic, eco-friendly stuff), so this is going to save my family some money!

  3. says

    I am so so SO glad that you posted this. That isn’t because I’ve never heard of this before, but because I’m doing it WRONG! HELP!

    I’ve made my own foaming hand soap with regular non-antibacterial soap and it works great. However, when I tried to use Dr. Bronner’s it was awful! The soap kept settling to the bottom of the bottle. Eventually, the water turned yellow & the “soap” left my hands smelling like a dirty dish rag!

    What was I doing wrong?? I was using Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap. Does that make a difference?

    • Emily says

      Hmmm, I don’t know Rebekah. I’ve never had that problem. I guess it could be the essential oil in the soap, but I used to use the rose scented Dr. Bronner’s and never had a problem. I wonder also if it might be your water? Do you have well water, or really hard, or soft, water? I don’t know, I’m hoping maybe someone else can chime in with a better answer.
      But, if you’ve been having success making your own with regular soap, I say stick with what works, ya know! :)

      • says

        I do have hard water. Maybe that is the problem.

        After trying to use Dr. Bronner’s twice, I’ve given up. Now I just need to figure out what to use my castile soap for. Perhaps a green blogger that I know could do a post with some suggestions for me. *wink-wink*

        • Sarah C says

          I don’t blog, but sometimes I’m green…

          I have found Dr. Bronner’s to be hard on my hands, and on my son’s butt, so we don’t use it for skin anymore, but I use it for general cleaning (toilet, tub, sink). I just sprinkle some baking soda, a couple drops (or squirts if it is pretty dirty) and give a little scrub. It cuts the grease well, and I don’t have to worry about bad residue.

          Ironically, Mrs. Meyer’s hand dishwashing soap doesn’t bother my hands, so we use that in our foaming soap dispensers and I haven’t had any problems. In fact, it is lavendarlicious :)

          Hope that helps!


        • Bridget says

          Rebekah, I also have hard water and sometimes use bottled water for my homemade cleaners. Just buy a gallon to keep on hand for these things….it will go a long way!!

    • Amy says

      I had the same problem with the soap leaving my hands smelling bad… Until I tried a slight variation of the “soap recipe”. Now I start by adding about 10 drops of Thieves essential oil (I believe this also makes the soap antibactierial) to 1tsp of baking soda, then I pour that into my soap dispenser and add warm water until it’s about 2/3 full, stir or shake until all the baking soda is disolved & then add about 1 oz of Dr. Bronner’s pure Castile soap (I use pepperment usually) & then stir gently (don’t shake or it will foam up alot). So far this has worked for me & now my soap leaves my hands smelling fresh! :) Hope this helps!

  4. Lori says

    Hey I do this! I occationally add olive oil too for a little moisture. I use this as body wash for my son and I because my clawfoot tub is close to the sink and its easy to grab :) One bottle lasts me like 6 months. I think I’ve actually only filled it twice since moving back home last october and the second time was only a few weeks ago.

    • Emily says

      Hi Lori,

      Does it work to just put the olive oil in with the soap and water? Don’t the water and oil separate? I just had a friend ask me last night about adding oil to make it more moisturizing and I wasn’t sure.

      • Lori says

        The plain dr bronners makes my hands a bit dry so the oil really does help with that. I have a bad habit of adding the soap and oil before the water so it bubbles all up and I have to wait for it to go down then finish filling it later so maybe that is why is doesn’t separate.

        • Emily says

          Thanks Lori! I should have asked you this before, but how much olive oil do you use? I’m assuming it’s just a bit, I’m sure a little goes a long way!

          • Lori says

            Oops! I just saw your question. I have been so bad at checking my e-mails. I don’t measure anything but I would say I don’t use more that a tablespoon. I had a pretty small dial foaming container that I had dumped to make it in, until my sister-in-law threw it away cause she thought it really was dial hand soap that her mom bought haha. So I need to make some more so maybe I will measure it all out this time.

          • Emily says

            No problem Lori, thanks so much for coming back and answering. I tried a little almond oil in my soap because I already had that in the bathroom and I did feel like it made the soap softer and more moisturizing on my hands. Thanks again for the tip!

  5. says

    Hi Emily! Question for you–Has this been causing any problems with your sink? My sink has gotten clogged up twice now and I’m fairly sure its from the Bronners. Its the only sink I’m having trouble with and its the only sink I use the Bronners at. Also, when my FIL got out the clog, it was gray slimy stuff, which I think must be some kind of build up from the soap. The first time I thought it was a fluke, but the second time, I figured I needed to stop using it. I’m curious if any one else has had any problems with this.

    • Emily says

      Hi Kate!
      Hmmm, that’s an interesting question. Our sink has gotten kind of clogged and backed up, but we’d been having problems with lots of our plumbing for a while and thought it was all because we had roots in our pipes. We just had Roter Rooter come out two weeks ago, so we got that part fixed, now I’ll have to pay attention and see if our sink keeps clogging up, and if it could be from the soap. I didn’t even think of that. I’ll watch it over the next few weeks and let you know.

      I will say that I have been using castile soap (Dr. Bronners) as body soap for the two years that we’ve been living in this house and have never had problems with the drain in our bathtub. So, the only thing I can think of is that the castile soap must just react different depending on what kind of water you have.

      Sorry I can’t be more helpful. If you stop using the castile soap and your sink stops clogging, then I guess you’ll have your answer! Stop back and let me know! :)

    • Nancy says

      See my post below, I have hard water and avoid “real” soap at my sinks. In my shower I don’t seem to have a problem, but maybe that’s because the drain is bigger. Anyway, I make foaming soap with Oliva Care All-Natural hand soap, I usually find it at TJMaxx or Homegoods, for about $5 for 20oz. I use a 2 parts water to 1 part soap mix.

    • says

      My roommate used this product for laundry and caused laundry washer machine to clog up and then drain pipe got clogged. I told her to stop using Castile liquid soap its too oily and too thick. It is hard to degraded. Forget it, not recommend using this product

    • Jena says

      we just learned how to make foaming soap a couple months ago with regular dish soap and we really like it. I use a glass jar with a tight fitting lid to mix the soap in (a pickle jar should do the trick) and mix 1 part dish soap (we love palmolive with the lavender scent) to 5 or 6 parts water. We have some dial foam soap dispensers i have been refilling and if you are using a 1/4 measuring cup for each “part,” you can fill 2 dial soap containers about 3/4 full. Easy, cheap, very nice smell, and washes off nicely. Good luck :)

  6. says

    I’ve never had luck with making my own foaming soap, sadly. We don’t have a dishwasher, so I swear by Dawn Direct Foam — which is sad, because it’s expensive! But it’s worth it to me; I really do love it.

    I recently began using family cloth and have employed some of the wipes for makeup-removing purposes. It’s great! No more cotton balls/pads for me. But I, too, wish I could find a good alternative to qtips. I haven’t thought of anything yet. :)

    PS: These are the cloths I bought, in case anyone’s interested:


    • ashley says

      i would think you could do the same thing with your dishsoap. i usually use regular hand soap and water in my dial foaming soap dispenser. my ‘recipe’ is 3 tbsp of soap and 2/3 cup warm water.(stir, don’t shake!) i would keep one of your used dispensers and try it, of course you’d need to multiply the recipe! i’m sure a bottle of regular dawn would be cheaper and last quite a while longer than one of the direct foam would!

    • Emily says

      The brand name Q-Tips are compostable. I’m a recycle/reuse fanatic and was thrilled to learn this. If you are looking for a way to make them, to not have to pay so much to purchase them, this does not help. But if you care about their end of life footprint, they will compost because they are only paper and cotton. I learned this from Q-tips via Recyclebank.com – a wonderful resource for anyone who can use cool rewards for furthering their recycling knowledge. Cheers!

  7. Nancy says

    I make my own foaming soap, but not with castille because I have hard water and makes a mess of my sink. I scour stores like TJMaxx for Olivia Care liquid hand soap and mix it in my pumps at a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part soap. My cost is about 50cents per fill-up. I used this same mixture for my homemade baby wipes, saved tons of money.

      • Nancy says

        I used the Olivia Care soap or you can use the hand soap from Trader Joe’s, both are sulfate and paraben free all natural soaps. I would then fill a 16oz bottle with water and then add a couple of pumps of soap and a drop or two of glycerin. I bought cotton baby wipes from an online store, but you could probably use flannel squares or any thin wash cloths. I would fold the cloth baby wipes in half and put them in old baby wipe container and then pour about half the soap mixture over cloths. They can be washed with cloth diapers. HTH!

        • valleygirl says

          Nancy, does this work well for … uh… poop smears? The thought of washing that is nasty to me… LOL We still use disposables. My son has a medical condition and with how often we go through diapers I cannot imagine…though I have thought about it lots. I’m really hoping we can potty train him soon though medically, that’s iffy. So who knows. So basically, lots of pooping going on over here all day long. Are homemade washable wipes feasible? Is washing them in a normal washer gross? I mean will that contaminate other clothes later on or do I need to super clean the washer between?

          • Nancy says

            I’d have to say no, this would not be a good idea in your situation. I used mine along with cloth diapers, so they all got washed together and never mixed with other clothing. You could still save money and do the same thing with paper towels, but the might be a bit rough on kiddo’s bottom. Sorry :(

  8. valleygirl says

    Never even thought of trying this. Bc I have hard water and noticed the other posters having difficulty with castille soap I’ll search for the Olivia Care mentioned a few times. My only question is…does it really clean well????

    • Nancy says

      I forgot to mention that you can use the hand soap from Trader Joe’s if you can’t find Olivia Care. Both of these soaps are sulfate and paraben free, and won’t clog your plumbing. Oh, and yes it works! I have to keep up with a 3yo boy who loves playing in the dirt and mud.

    • Emily says

      Hi valleygirl,
      I’m not sure what you’re asking about does it clean well. It is soap, and it will clean dirt and germs off your hands, or whatever else you may be washing. When washing your hands the most important thing is scrubbing and washing and rinsing, that’s what really works to clean your hands. I think sometimes we get caught up in the marketing or advertising of products and start to believe that’s the only thing that will work, or that homemade alternatives won’t work. But I can tell you, I have two little ones who love to play outside and get dirty and it definitely works to get them nice and clean! Hope it works well for you!

  9. says

    I love this idea. I have been doing this same thing for about a year. It saves me a lot of soap as my little ones like to pump out a bunch for every wash. Hands are just as clean as they were before we diluted the soap.

  10. Shana says

    I am a new follower, but I have been making my own foaming hand soap with Dr. Bronner’s for a while now. I just bought cheap foaming soap at Meijer and scrubbed off the label. I like to fill it with part Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint and part Dr. Bronner’s Lavender castile soap and plenty of water. Then I give it a shake and it’s good to go. This combination smells great! My husband, kids, and I all use it in the shower too (in just a regular pump). The boys use peppermint or eucalyptus and my daughter and I mix rose and lavender. The three bottles I purchased (all on sale at my health food store), should last us over a year. I also use the peppermint in a spray bottle mixed with water for general cleaning. Awesome stuff– I will never go back to regular products again, no matter how many coupons I find!!

  11. Hillary says

    I tried this today- what a great idea! It works really well. I had to add a little more soap to get a good foamy lather but that’s fine, it’s still cheap to make. I am so glad to have found something so simple and inexpensive to make that’s natural too, thanks !

  12. says

    It’s fine if you think you want to save a few bucks buy watering down your store bought soap, but you are still using soap that will dry out your hands. You need to buy some “true” soap, something that is handmade with oils. Try this Foaming Hand Soap After you use it you wont even need lotion anymore.

  13. says

    This is perfect! I had heard you could refill using Castille soap, and this was just the post I needed. I just ordered some of the peppermint, and may get some lavender as well (my husband loves lavender scent) Thanks!!

    • Emily @ Live Renewed says

      If you use organic soap, then yes, your foaming hand soap would be organic as well. Hope that helps!

  14. tiffany says

    I have always been fond of homemade soap…I look forward to making them myself…back in college, in chemistry I have learned about how to make but never really tried it.

  15. lalingwelna says

    I like post about do it yourself things like this. I have been reading much and when I follow it and made one myself, I felt the satisfaction of having to do it on my own. Keep on posting mam and I will be always around to drop by what you have in store for us.

  16. Linda says

    I have been trying to make foaming hand soap with Dr. Brommer’s liquid castile soap. I added fragrance oils and cosmetic color and initially it looks and lathers perfectly. After the bottle sits for a few days, the soap seems to separate and settle to the bottom of the bottle. Any suggestions on what to do?

    • Emily @ Live Renewed says

      I’m not sure, but it may be the addition of the oils and colors that makes the soap separate. I would try it without those and see if that helps. The only thing I add to mine is glycerin to help the soap go on more smoothly and keep it from being too drying. Hope that helps.

  17. Vicki Nunez says

    I have been so bad at checking my e-mails. I like post about do it yourself things like this. Bc I have hard water and noticed the other posters having difficulty with castille soap I’ll search for the Olivia Care mentioned a few times. This will be a cheaper hand soap in our house..

  18. Deb says

    I have made foam and regular soap from the liquid Castille soap and all of them have separated, what can I do to prevent that?

  19. James says

    any problems i have had with a castile hand soap seperating and needing remixing periodically was when we are up at our summer cottage where the water is very hard (Lake Water). at home our water is soft and i never have had an issue with the dr bronners not staying suspended in the solution. distilled water might be the way to go if your in a hard water area.

  20. Allison says

    Hi, I tried to make my own foaming hand soap to use Dr. Bronner’s as shampoo and body wash in the shower since I cannot get it to foam, I used quite a bit of the soap to make it seem like it foams (plus tea, witch hazel, vitamin e, and glycerin). Then I made one foaming hand soap with Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap and it separated and did not foam. I also tried to make a foaming hand soap with dial hand soap using little less than 1/3 soap. This soap separated into little flakes and had to be remixed every time I used it. We have 250 PPM as CaCO3. So our water is pretty hard, is that the problem? Any advice, please? Will adding glycerin help Dr. Bronner’s soap foam more, or what will?

  21. says

    I made this today, and I LOVE it! I had Castile soap on hand from another DIY cleaning product that I adjusted my recipe for and no longer use it. So it was perfect! And it’s peppermint scented. My hands still smell delish!

  22. Samantha R. says

    Have you guys ever checked out some of the already made castile soap? It’s so much easier than making yourself especially if you don’t have the time. There is sites where you can get it for a great price without going broke. I myself, get my castile soap from http://www.naturalwayorganics.net and it’s been the best I’ve ever used.


  1. […] Hand Soap – Use a foaming soap dispenser and fill it up with water and then add a few squirts of castile soap. (Another great way to avoid triclosan!) I bought some rose scented castile soap on clearance at Target only to get it home and realize that I didn’t really like the scent.  So, I’ve been using it this way for hand soap and because it’s so diluted, the smell isn’t as much of an issue. It’s also great for kids because it makes a lot of fun bubbles to wash with, but without the nasty chemicals in popular kids’ soaps like Kandoo. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *