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Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap

Surprisingly, one of the most popular posts on iDreamofClean to date is How to Make Your Own Foaming Dish Soap! Since there were several questions in the comments of that post asking how to make your own foaming hand soap, I thought the question deserved to be answered in it’s own post.

How to Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap


  • Shampoo or Body Wash
  • Water


  1. Fill an empty foaming hand soap container 30-40% full with either Shampoo or Body Wash.
  2. Add water to fill the container.
  3. Put the top on and shake.

How easy is that?! I haven’t calculated the savings for making your own foaming hand soap, but I’m sure it’s comparable (or perhaps even better) to the savings for making your own foaming dish soap.

Have you ever tried this?

  • Jennifer August 30, 2010, 9:52 am

    Why can you not use the liquid hand soaps? ( Asking because I already have some)

    • Christine (iDreamofClean) September 1, 2010, 8:54 am

      I’m not sure the exact science behind it, but using something that creates a lot of suds (like bodywash or shampoo) helps the dispenser create more foam. Mixing water and liquid handsoap just creates watered down soap for some reason. I’m sure it still gets your hands clean but you (and your guests) will definitely be able to tell a difference). I may look into this a bit more and get back to you…

      • Maryellen October 7, 2010, 10:55 am

        I’ve used liquid hand soaps (the non-foaming kind) without problem. I fill a quarter or a third of the bottle, then fill the rest with hot tap water and stir gently with a drink stirrer, knife, chopstick…. That way you can see when the soap is all dissolved. I’ve never had the solution separate afterward, and still get nice rich foam.

    • Stephanie October 7, 2010, 11:58 am

      You can use liquid hand soap. I do it all the time and can’t tell the difference. I use a 50% – 50% ratio and the liquid hand soap bottle last about a year with 6 people using it!

  • Caroline Mukisa August 30, 2010, 11:02 am

    Is it that simple? I’m definitely going to try this one! Also wondering how much cheaper it is , to say, make your own Lux liquid handsoap using Lux shower gel, as opposed to buying it ready made. Actually, I think the liquid handsoap and shower gel cost the same for the same volume, so that’s a 60 – 70% saving!

    • Christine (iDreamofClean) September 1, 2010, 8:55 am

      It really is that simple! I know it’s so hard to believe!! If you try it, let me know what you think!

  • Tiffany September 1, 2010, 7:58 am

    Love this! I am overrun with body wash at my home (I used to go nuts at the bath and body works semi-annual sales). Now I can re-purpose some of them for foaming soaps. Awesome!

  • Sonya October 7, 2010, 11:50 am

    I do this as well, but you can also do it by just filling the bottle 10% full of soap and the rest water. I love it!

  • Ashlea October 7, 2010, 12:01 pm

    Just found you through moneysavingmom. I’m a clean freak myself and love tips. For foaming hand soap, we just use….. foaming hand soap! We cut it to about 30-40% handsoap and the rest water. It always works beautifully and I hardly notice that the it’s watered down. It might be a little cheaper to use shampoo. I don’t know. But then, I love my smelly good handsoap scents from Bath and Body Works. It’s a small thing that brightens my day. And when they go on sale, they’re not too bad; especially considering that I’m gonna water ‘em down!

  • Sherri October 7, 2010, 12:38 pm

    I refill my foaming dispenser with hand soap all the time! I only put in 10-15% soap and 90% water and it works great. Had to play around with the percentages to get the right mixture, but it’s so worth it.

  • Kathy October 7, 2010, 1:31 pm

    I use hand soap to make foaming hand soap all the time. It took me a while to get the hang of how much to use, but it works. It isn’t as foamy as the body wash, but noone has ever noticed it or at least mentioned it at my house. I use up sale soaps all the time and since my boys think that soap is a fun thing to play with this helps save a lot of money. If they go through a bottle of my homemade foaming soap it is cents lost not dollars.

  • Anita October 7, 2010, 2:04 pm

    I used to sell Avon and would always “have” to try the new scents in bubble bath. I’ve found that you can get the largest size for around $4 on clearance and use that for foaming hand soap. We’ve been doing this for years now. I have also found that if you add the water to your soap dispenser first, then add your bodywash, etc, the water dilutes the soap product and it doesn’t take nearly as much shaking to incorporate it. Works great!

  • Jennifer Horn October 7, 2010, 2:47 pm

    I learned this from my neighbor several years ago. I love it. I’ve never bought the foaming soaps again! :)

  • Marissa October 7, 2010, 3:58 pm

    does the bodywash/shampoo like.. disinfect? as well as actual soap does?
    this is exciting. i’m definitely trying it.

    also has anyone tried putting regular soap refills into a lysol automatic dispenser? i tried pouring a small amount in and it seemed to work! i didnt fill it up all the way bc i got a new one that i had opened already. so we’ll use that for now and then test some more when its out!

    • jennifer October 7, 2010, 6:58 pm

      Yes,you can I’ve reused mine twice so far.

    • Violet October 13, 2010, 1:53 pm

      Yes. I put regular hand soap into one of the empty Lysol refills & it worked the same in my opinion & cost a LOT less.

  • G.M. October 7, 2010, 4:17 pm

    Do you know how to make the foaming soap antibacterial? Thanks!

    • iDreamOfClean October 7, 2010, 4:37 pm

      Sure! Just use antibacterial body wash or soap in your foaming soap container and you’ll be set.

  • Nicole October 7, 2010, 9:38 pm

    We use castile soap with a 10-15% liquid soap to 85-90% water ratio. Mix with very warm water. There is no reason to use antibacterial soap unless you or a family member have a very contagious bug such as MRSA, C-DIFF, etc. Antibacterial soap actually kills good bacteria that is protecting you. Tea tree oil and lavender oil are both natural antibacterial agents.

  • Misty A October 7, 2010, 9:53 pm

    Okay…might be a dumb question, but where are you buying the foaming soap dispenser or are you just re-using one you already have? Thanks!

    • iDreamOfClean October 8, 2010, 12:24 pm

      That’s not a dumb question at all! Since I happened upon this method by accident (My foaming handsoap was out and I needed to refill in a hurry) I just used an old container. I’m sure you could probably by an empty container but I’ve never looked for one. If you are going to by one though, might as well get the first one already filled with soap!

  • Jenny Barber October 8, 2010, 2:34 am

    Thanks for the great tip!! I’m just wondering about those who like the antibacterial soaps…..will using your method really get your hands germ free??


    • Jessica October 8, 2010, 3:09 pm

      Germs stick to skin via a kind of static cling and so to remove germs you just need to scrub long enough to break the bond that is holding them to the skin. That is why they say to sing happy birthday, etc while you wash. If you wash long enough you should be fairly germ free without killing the germs via chemicals of antibac soaps.

  • Rhoda October 8, 2010, 1:47 pm

    I have been doing this for about the last 5 years. I do use the huge hand soap refills from Costco with the ratio of 1:4 with water. I have had excellent success with the suds, and each refill bottle lasts my family of 4 with 2 bathrooms and a kitchen for almost 2 years.

  • Callie October 9, 2010, 12:13 am

    I have been making my foaming hand soap with dawn or palmolive anti-bacterial dish liquid. It doesn’t take much at all, maybe 10-15% soap, the rest water. Works great and is super cheap, since I usually pay no more than 50 cents for a bottle.

  • Lynne October 9, 2010, 2:54 am

    What do you mean by “foaming hand soap dispenser?” Is is the same thing as the soap dispenser you get with liquid soap already in it, like at Walmart or Dollar Tree?

    • Sherri October 9, 2010, 9:04 pm

      You can buy them at Walmart (not sure about Dollar Tree) where the rest of the soap pumps are located, but a foaming dispenser is not just your basic pump. They will say “foaming” on the label, and have a larger mechanism inside that produces a foamy mixture when you press down. If you mix soap & water with a regular pump, you just get runny soap.

      • Lynne October 10, 2010, 10:29 pm

        Thanks Sherri! I didn’t know there were “foaming” pumps you could purchase. I guess that’s why mine didn’t turn out so great. I’m going to purchase the foaming pump and give it a try. Thanks for your help!

  • Susie Dippold October 9, 2010, 7:29 am

    Another thing that I like to do when making my own foaming hand soap is mix the color of the soap to match my decor. I use antibacterial dish soap and it works great. You can tweak the color by mixing two colors of soap to get the perfect color.

  • Jolie October 12, 2010, 8:56 pm

    I do this, but I use Dr. Brommer’s castille soap out of preference. It is very concentrated and you are supposed to dilute it, but the foam pump makes it last even longer. This is also very helpful for bathing little ones.

  • Rebekah March 27, 2012, 3:27 pm

    What on earth do you do when you followed directions (I actually did the MoneySavingMom.com one prior to seeing yours) and it comes out watery? I even added more soap. Still watery.

    • iDreamOfClean March 27, 2012, 8:47 pm

      hmmm…That has never happened to me but I have three suggestions that may possibly help:
      1. Up the percentage of soap to 50% to 60% body wash/shampoo.
      2. Check the pump. Is the pump made specifically for foaming soap? I know that seems obvious but just wanted to check :)
      3. Perhaps upgrade the type of shampoo/bodywash to a thicker brand. I really don’t think that should matter but it’s worth a try!

      If you try any of those suggestions, would you let me know if any of them worked?

  • Becky August 5, 2012, 7:59 pm

    I made some foaming hand soap by diluting liquid soap. It works great, but keeps separating in the container. It isn’t a big deal, I just turn the container upside down once or twice and its good to go again. But I wondered if anyone had experienced this, and if you have any tips for making it emulsify better so it doesn’t separate.