Make Your Own Hand Soap and Body Wash

The major ingredient in antibacterial liquid hand and dish soap, Triclosan, is currently under a safety investigation. The ingredients in antibacterial soap have always worried me and my husband, we’re worried about their contribution to the development of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”. We also worry about the chemicals being ingested by our children when they touch their mouths or eat after washing their hands. I am not saying that Triclosan is unsafe and I’m not saying that antibacterial soap doesn’t have it’s place, just that my family probably doesn’t need to use it for every single hand washing.

We have found a solution that works for our family and it just so happens that it’s cheaper than buying liquid soaps. It’s also insanely easy to make, it takes a week or two to start but the wait it worth it.

What you need:
-a storage container (glass jars are my favorite but I also have several plastic jars that I have recycled, the one pictured here is a reused container from a bulk container of peppercorns)

-a bar of soap (You can use any soap you like, I like to use the end stubs of a locally-made organic soap. It sells for $6/bar but one bar provides 6 months worth of hand soap for my family of 7 and it smells fantastic! If you use natural soap make sure it doesn’t contain lye.)


-a refillable soap pump (I reuse soap pumps that my parents give us, otherwise you can buy BPA-free containers online, or you can pick up cheapies at the dollar store)


Step 1

Step 1

Place the soap stubs into a sealable jar. If you’re using a whole bar of soap cut it up into 4 or 6 smaller pieces. The soap in this picture has already been soaked (step 3) a few times so yours won’t look quite the same.

Step 2

Step 2

Pour hot water over the soap, seal and shake the container well. If you’re using a glass container you can use boiling water to start the process faster, otherwise just use hot tap water.

Step 3

Step 3

Let the soap bars soak in the water for at least a week. Natural soaps tend to break down faster, so a week is just about the perfect soaking time. If you’re using store-purchased soap it’s going to take more time, between 2 and 4 weeks depending on how processed the soap is. Every day or two give the container a good shake.

Step 4

Step 4

You know your hand soap is ready when you pour some out and it’s the consistency of purchased hand soap, I like mine even a little thicker. If it’s too thick just add a little water, shake very lightly and continue.

TIP: It’s important not to shake the soap jar too much at this point, otherwise it’s too hard to get to the thick liquid soap. If you shake it allow it to settle for a few hours before continuing.

The thicker, concentrated liquid soap hangs out at the bottom of the jar so you need to pour off a little bit of the thinner stuff to get to it. If you’re using one of those foaming soap pumps you can use this thinner liquid in it, it’ll work just fine. If you’re using a regular soap pump you want to pour this liquid off into another container, save it and add it back to the soap bits. As soon as you get to the thicker soap (trust me, you’ll know when this is!) grab a funnel and pour it into a hand soap pump.

Step 5

Step 5

When your container is full put the lid on and you’re good to go. Cover the soap bits back up with water and let it soak until you’re ready to refill your soap.

Now, wasn’t that super easy?

This soap can also be used as laundry detergent (add some baking soda or borax to the load) and as body wash.

*Disclaimer: I’ve been using this method to make hand soap for a year (and laundry detergent for about 6 months) and no one in my family has suffered from it (and our laundry comes out clean) but your experience may vary.

Copyright © Meg Grooms,, 2011-2013. All Rights Reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced without express written consent, including graphics.


3 thoughts on “Make Your Own Hand Soap and Body Wash

  1. I make soap…all soap starts with lye and oil.
    Even organic soaps. Even the glycerin soaps start
    Off from soap made from lye.

    In the process of mixing lye water and oil…it becomes
    Soap. There is no lye left. But the chemical reaction
    That makes soap requires lye. On your soaps it won’t
    List lye…because its been turned into soap through

    In commercial soaps…they aren’t actually soaps. They take
    Out the glycerin to add it to lotions…and leave you with
    Some very harsh soap. Lol…then you buy the lotion to
    Soften your skin…using the glycerin they removed.

    I’ve been making soap with lye for a couple of months…
    And it is the best. I will never go back to store bought soap.


    • Actually, the soap I buy uses cocoa butter and some other ingredients as a base so they don’t need the lye to process the soap. That’s what the soap maker says anyhow.

  2. sorry but you’re wrong meg. sodium hydroxide, caustic soda, potassium hydroxide, lye…i just got taught how to make soap (and yeah i researched it) by a woman who taught women in northern india. it’s alkali and acid, or no soap. do some more research! but thanks for the tips, i have never soaked soap, and now i need to use my bar soaps because they make scum on the shower, and this will help. thanks:)

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