How to Make Foaming Hand Soap in Just 5 Steps

Think about how often you wash your hands in any given day. (Any fellow germaphobes out there?) OK, now multiply that number by however many people live in your household. Now multiply that number by the days in a year. That's a lot of soap.

Whether you’re looking to save some money, reduce your plastic intake (bravo!) or cut down on the amount of synthetic ingredients and chemicals in your home, swapping out your conventional hand soap for a DIY version can help on all fronts. (It’s also a fun project to do with little ones.)

And if you’re thinking, Um, no thanks. This sounds unnecessarily complicated and very messy, we hear you, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to actually make your own foaming hand soap. Better yet, we’ll walk you through the exact steps here.

  1. Water (distilled or filtered is best).
  2. A bottle of liquid castile soap. (We love this one by Dr. Bronners because it’s unscented, gentle on sensitive skin and babies, and produces a dense foam.)
  3. Essential oil(s) of your choice. (Tip: Peppermint, grapefruit, lemon, eucalyptus, orange, lemongrass and lavender are all great options because they have naturally antibacterial and antifungal properties. Plus, they leave your skin smelling oh so fresh and clean.)
  4. A hydrating carrier oil (like olive oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed oil or coconut oil). 
  5. A soap dispenser with a pump top. (You can either buy one online or reuse an empty bottle of hand soap.)

  1. Fill the soap bottle with water until it’s about 4/5 of the way full—or leave a little over an inch of room at the top. (If you’re reusing an old bottle, make sure to rinse it out thoroughly beforehand to get rid of any residual soap.)
  2. Pour in two tablespoons of liquid castile soap. (Note: The order of instructions is actually important here! Always make sure to add water before you add the liquid castile soap. Adding the soap first will cause it to foam up as you fill the dispenser with water, leaving you with a frothy, half-filled bottle.)
  3. Add one teaspoon of your preferred carrier oil. (We like to use a lightweight oil like jojoba or grapeseed oil during the summer and a richer oil like olive or coconut in the winter when our skin needs a little more moisture.)
  4. Fill in any remaining space with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. (We typically add anywhere between 10 to 15 drops, but this step is completely optional. If you prefer an unscented soap or if your skin is easily irritated, skip the essential oils altogether and make sure your castile soap is unscented as well.)
  5. Twist the cap on tightly and give the bottle a gentle shake to mix up the ingredients. Voilà! Your very own DIY foaming hand soap.

Is There Anything Else To Note When Making Your Own Foaming Hand Soap?

The recipe above was scaled to fit a 12-ounce soap dispenser, but you can always adjust the measurements according to the size of your bottle—or your personal preference. For example, if you have an 8-ounce bottle, use one and a half tablespoons of liquid castile soap, ¾ teaspoon of carrier oil and finish by adding just 5 to 8 drops of essential oil.

The measurements are here as a guide, but you don’t have to worry about being overly precise. Prefer a denser foam? Amp up the levels of liquid castile soap. Have dry skin? Try a tad more of that carrier oil. Prefer a stronger scent? Add in an extra few drops of essential oil. Half of the fun in making your own foaming hand soap is that you can completely adjust it to your liking.

A final word of advice: If you notice the ingredients are separating or the oils are gathering at the top, that’s totally normal. (This is because there aren’t any artificial emulsifiers added to this recipe.) Simply give your bottle a nice shake to mix everything back up and create that nice foamy lather again. Happy hand washing, y’all.

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...