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There are only about a million posts about how to make your own liquid hand soap, and most of them have the same two reasons for posting about it:

1. It is cost-effective

2. It is really easy

So here’s the long and the short of it–it’s hard to mess up making your own homemade liquid hand soap.  And, if you try it and it doesn’t turn out like you want it, you can still use it and try again later because you’re not out that much money.  

So, here’s the method I use, and it can easily be adapted to your preferences and needs.

You will need:


big spoon

big saucepan or pot


1 standard 4 oz bar of soap (please read the update below)

12 cups of water (please read the update below)

2 Tbs liquid glycerin

I found glycerin on the same isle as Bandaids  in the Health and Beauty section of Walmart.

Update: When I made this soap for this post, I did it a little differently than I had done it in times past.  I formerly had used Ivory bar soap or some other easily rinsable type of bar soap, and this time I used an antiperspirant soap (Dial maybe) of some sort.  Also, I formerly had used about 15 cups of water, but found that my soap turned out a little thinner than I like it, so I lessened the amount of water this time around to get the consistency I wanted.

That said, one or the other of these changes (or both) made this soap to be gradually sink-clogging over time.  I never had this problem when I made this hand soap with more water and low-residue bar soap, so I wanted to be sure to add this caution to other soap makers.  To be sure your homemade liquid soap will not build up in your drain, add about 2-3 more cups of water to the above recipe, and make sure the bar of soap you use is one that is low-residue.  That should solve any problems!  Your soap will be a thinner consistency, but will work just as well and will not build up in your drains.  Now, back to the post….


Put water in a pan and heat to almost boiling.  

While you are waiting on the water, grate the bar of soap and set aside.

grated bar of soap

When the water is ready, dump the grated soap in and stir.

soap and water combined

Try not to let the water boil; you’re just trying to melt the soap particles.

After the soap is melted, remove from heat and add glycerin.

Stir well and allow to cool.  Let soap sit at least four hours, or overnight–it will thicken as it sits, and can take awhile before it does, so try not to get impatient.

When it is thickened and cool, use a whisk to blend it together.

Some posts recommend using a mixer to blend the soap, and that is something you can try.  I have never done that, but it may work just as well.

This is also a good time to add anything you want to the soap such as color and scented oils.  It doesn’t take much of either, so add it carefully.

After the soap is blended well, use a cup to dip the soap out of the pot and transfer it to the container you want to keep it in.  I use a gallon jug that was formerly full of a punch drink.  I washed it out really well and it has made a good soap container.  

Use a funnel and a cup to fill the container if it has a narrow opening–this soap may set up thick, and tend to all go in the bottle at once if you try to pour it directly from the pot.

The soap is now ready to transfer into the smaller hand soap dispensers.  I use a funnel for that as well, and fill them a little more than 3/4 of the way to the top, leaving a gap so that it doesn’t overflow when you put the pump top back on the dispenser.

Here is the finished product!  Mine turns out thick, but I have read that it depends on the type of bar soap you use.  I used a 4 oz bar of Dial I already had for this, but any bar of soap will do.  Adjust accordingly if there is a difference in ounces, and more or less glycerin will change the consistency as well (glycerin tends to be a thickener).  Your soap may turn out thinner or thicker than mine, depending on these variables, but there is no wrong way to make it!  If it turns out too thick or thin, use more or less water next time.

This soap does not create much in the way of suds.  Just like HE laundry soap (low suds but clean and good-smelling results), it delivers what it needs to.  And, the best part, it costs very little!  Two tablespoons of glycerin and a bar of soap are usually the only things that you will have to buy.  

Try this sometime and enjoy experimenting with it–there is little waste.  You can use the batches that don’t turn out–soap is soap, so if it is too thick or thin, it is still usable.  Just adjust how you make it next time around.  I encourage you to have fun with it!