DIY Liquid Hand Soap


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DIY Liquid Hand Soap | Handmade Holidays | Cheap Recipe Blog | DIY Soap | Gift Ideas | Handmade Gift Ideas

This is a guest post is from Haley of Cheap Recipe Blog

When I was about seven years old, I wanted to give my mom a really nice Christmas gift. I remember feeling guilty that she gave me such nice gifts (like dolls and games and new clothes) – and all I ever gave her was necklaces made out of yarn and buttons, pictures that I had colored, and other simple homemade gifts.


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In the weeks before Christmas, I remember asking her what she wanted for Christmas. She replied, “Oh Haley honey – just make me something homemade! Homemade gifts are the best gifts”.

Although she said it with conviction, I didn’t buy it. Why would a homemade gift be better than getting something shiny and new? What could I possibly make that would compare to something purchased in a store?

Today, 20-some years later, I know exactly what my mom was talking about. As I grow older, I realize ultimately how little satisfaction material things give me.

Sure, I love getting new stuff as much as anyone else. But ultimately, these items don’t make me happy. I realize that the times that I am most happy are the times I spend with the people I love. And when I can’t physically be with the people I love,

I get satisfaction from making gifts or food for them. Usually this involves baking something rich and decadent, but a good craft of DIY project can also be fun and is much appreciated by the recipient.

This homemade hand soap is really fun and easy to make. I found the idea in Richard Blais’ cookbook, Try This At Home: Recipes From My Head To Your Plate. This is one of the most bang-for-your-buck homemade gifts out there. A travel-size bar of soap turns into a huge batch of liquid hand soap.

DIY Liquid Hand Soap

Although the texture of the liquid soap isn’t exactly like the stuff you buy in the store, it cleans your hands just the same.

And you can customize it by adding essential oils. Give it a try for yourself. Or better yet, make a batch, put it in a pretty soap dispenser, and give it away as a gift.

Here is what you need:

1 bar unscented soap
1 gallon water
1 tsp essential oil such as lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, etc. (optional)
Cheese grater
Large soup pot
Soap dispensers (this makes a huge batch)


Step 1: Using a cheese grater, grate the soap into a large bowl.

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Step 2: Bring water to a boil over high heat. Add soap and stir until dissolved. This will take about two minutes. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool, stirring every five minutes or so.

DIY Soap

Step 3: Stir in extract, if using. Pour soap into soap dispenser. If the soap is a little too thick for your liking, use a hand mixer and beat until smooth.

If you want a smaller amount of hand soap, simply use a half gallon of water and a travel size bar of soap. This recipe is very adaptable.

I hope you have fun making this liquid hand soap, and I hope your recipients love it. Make your gift extra special by putting it in a pretty soap dispenser and placing it in a sparkly gift bag. And if you decide to keep it all for yourself – more power to you! Enjoy.

DIY Liquid Hand Soap | Handmade Holidays | Cheap Recipe Blog | DIY Soap | Gift Ideas | Handmade Gift Ideas

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Have you ever tried to make your own liquid hand soap?

DIY Liquid Hand Soap | Handmade Holidays | Cheap Recipe Blog | DIY Soap | Gift Ideas | Handmade Gift IdeasHaley is the author of Cheap Recipe Blog, which features creative and low-cost recipes and money-saving tips. Haley’s pride and joy are her “$10 Food Day” posts: Four recipes (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack), enough to feed a family of four, all for less than $10 – for the entire day.



  1. Kelly
    November 4 at 09:55AM

    This is amazing! I can’t wait to try it! Thank you so much!!!

  2. Marissa
    November 4 at 11:02AM

    This is an awesome idea! I am always looking for inexpensive DIY gifts to make for people outside of my normal gift-giving circle (like coworkers, neighbors, etc). 🙂

  3. Anna
    November 4 at 12:18PM

    This looks like a great idea. Do you have any tips on what kind of bar soap to use, or what types should be avoided? Or will anything work? E.g., my son’s dermatologist wants him using only Dove Sensitive. Do you think I can make that into a liquid soap?

    • Sheri B.
      November 18 at 07:02AM


      I have done this for years and years for my face. I am a “Dove” girl, but got tired of keeping a messy bar on my sink to wash my face. Now, when the shower bar gets too small to handle, I just throw it into a pump bottle (it has a wide opening), add a little hot water, and stir. Dove is soft enough that you don’t have to grate it and the little bar just melts. Perfect for my nightly face washing!

  4. November 4 at 02:13PM

    This looks lovely. Beautiful pictures, too.

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Becky
    November 6 at 04:11PM

    Why does it have to be a unscented bar. Can’t you use one like Caress or others that have a scent?

  6. November 8 at 02:21PM

    Hey Becky – you can totally use scented soap. But I will say – the soap becomes so diluted with water that barely any scent from the bar soap will remain. If you want a scented soap, I would recommend adding some essential oils.

    Anna – I have never tried making this with Dove, but I can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t work for this project. From my experience, this recipe is pretty much foolproof, so I would be surprised if Dove soap affected the end product.

    About the type of soap: I used a small bar of soap from a hotel for the first batch, and some scented guest soap for the second batch (one of those small square bars from the photo above). From my experience, virtually any kind of bar soap will work for this recipe. If you’re using a small bar of soap (like the kind from a hotel), just make sure to reduce the amount of water you use. Good luck!

  7. marge201
    November 8 at 03:29PM

    Great tutorial, Ruth. Thank you! I haven’t bought liquid hand soap in a long time. My current is using cheap shampoo that I’ve had forever, doing about 25/75 shampoo to water, and filling a large hand soap dispenser that I’ve had. Everyone once in a while I add a little shampoo and a lot more water. As soon as my cheap shampoo stock is done, I will totally do this. Thank you so much!

  8. Sue truitt
    November 24 at 06:58PM

    Can u tell me exactly how thick this will get? I just made a batch and it is fairly watery. Thanks for getting back to me

  9. Andrea
    December 2 at 12:00PM

    Oh me too! It’s so watery so added another half bar ?????letting is sit now..

  10. kayla
    December 8 at 10:21PM

    I used one bar of soap and the amount of water called for, but it tuned out very watery. Any suggestions?

  11. Kristi
    December 17 at 09:40PM

    Hello, I love this blog! I’ve been following it for several months now. I tried this recipe and my soap is also very watery. The instructions make it seem like it will turn out thick and need to be mixed with a hand mixer. What gives? I do have a backup plan: homemade peppermint foot scrub I found here.

    I hope I can get my peppermint liquid soap to work out so I can give a combo gift! Any advice would be appreciated.

  12. Amy
    January 23 at 10:19AM

    I tried making liquid soap yesterday. So far, it is not turning out right. I grated about 9 ounces of soap, from a bar of Jergens and some little hotel soaps. I boiled 9 c of water. At first, it was watery, when I stirred it, and seemed ok a half-hour later. When I checked a couple hrs later, it was gelatinous! Are you supposed to keep a lid on it? Or pour immediately into dispensers? I heated up the pot and added 2 3/4 c water, to hopefully thin it. Same thing happened. I tried using electric mixer. And, I heated again, adding 2 1/2 more cups of water; let sit overnight. This morning, gelatin! Please help!

  13. Lisa
    January 26 at 02:24PM

    I just put scrap pieces of soap in a container add water and some pony beads. Let. Sit and it turns to liquid. The container has a pump. Pony beads are in the craft dept.

    • Amyp
      January 29 at 10:50PM

      What do the pony beads do to aid making soap?

  14. Anonymous
    January 29 at 08:50PM

    The soap will turn gelatinous over night. It might depend on the brand on how “watery” it ends up being. I used 4 oz of soap, which I grated, then I added it to 1 gallon of hot water. Still very thick, the next morning, which I thought was okay, because as long as I can pump it out the pump, it’s good right? I’ve made liquid soap a few times now, and this seems to be the way it goes. I like Lisa’s idea of the scrap soap and the pony beads. Clever.

  15. Anonymous
    February 27 at 07:17PM

    can this hand soap recipe convert to foam soap ?

    • Anonymous
      April 22 at 11:04AM

      The foaming effect is a result of the type of soap dispenser you use, not how the hand soap is made. Some liquid soap dispensers have a mechanism within the pump that aerates the liquid soap as it passes through, so that it comes out as a foam, not a liquid. Kroger sells Method liquid hand soap and you can see through the clear plastic of the bottle that it has a more complex pumping mechanism inside it than the cheaper brands have. The liquid soap in the bottle is clear but when pumped, comes out as foam.

  16. Nelleke
    March 1 at 08:58AM

    My handsoap is slimy. What can I do?

  17. DD
    March 15 at 06:21PM

    What do the pony beads do for the soap? I don’t understand this part at all. Thanks

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  22. August 5 at 07:01PM

    I love this idea it’s so cute me and my bestie tried it and it works so well

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  25. Anonymous
    November 17 at 09:14PM

    Old-timers wasted very little – we used to take all the ends of soap bars that were too little to use, put them in a quart jar, add water, and shake really well. We used it for laundry, washing the dog, and just washing hands. We called it ‘soap jelly’. To use in a pump dispenser you need to have one that has a fat tube going to the bottom of the bottle. “Method” dish-washing liquid bottles work very well. They are rather large but have a very fat tube inside. Sometimes you have to periodically shake the bottle to keep it from separating. BTW, who cares if it is slimy – after all, it is SOAP, and will clean very well no matter what the consistency is!

  26. Emily
    December 12 at 05:09PM

    i tried making this soap, at first it was just soapy water so i added another bar in and left it over night and my liquid became a solid i’ll try to heat it up and then let it cool then i’ll beat it.

  27. December 13 at 07:10PM

    I have a great recipe…4 n half gallons of very hot water…mix in 1 cup borax and stir 2 mins…mix in 1 cup super soda washing stir 2 mins…add 3/4 cup of your fav laundry soap and stir again 2 mins. While all that stirring and mixing is going on find time to grate your favorite bar of soap…I use 1 1/2 bars zest because it’s soapy, and bring to a boil stirring the mix. When melted add it to your gallon and stir 2 mins. Cover lightly with foil and set in lukewarm area overnight

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  29. Samantha
    October 22 at 04:17AM

    Adding about a tablespoon of vegetable glycerin will give it an awesome texture 🙂

  30. Angela Reiter
    October 1 at 08:05PM

    This is too cool. Thanks f. or sharing. Looking forward to giving this a try

  31. October 23 at 11:08AM

    If you want a smaller amount of hand soap, simply use a half gallon of water and a travel size bar of soap. This recipe is very adaptable.

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