How to Make Foaming Soap

It’s the little things in life that get me all riled up.

Remembering I have leftover pizza in the fridge. Watching squirrels scurrying around trying to find hiding places for their nuts in the fall. Lighting a fire in the middle of the day instead of waiting until evening. Finding out Home Depot now carries the 2″ galvanized pipe elbows with a double sided, screw in end. You know. The little things.

Foaming soap is one of those little things. I love it. It’s easy. It comes out puffy and lathery without any work on your part at all.





That’s right. I’ll spend 12 hours stacking 2 full, bush cords of wood, but I’m too lazy to lather.

What of it?

The one thing I don’t like about foaming soap dispensers is refill soap for them is really hard to find and usually expensive.

So I figured out how to turn regular liquid hand soap into the sort of soap that will work in a foaming dispenser.

Regular liquid hand soap won’t work in a foaming dispenser because it’s too thick.

So genius me decided I could probably just add water to it to thin it down.

Genius me was right.

Getting the proportions right isn’t even difficult. It’s pretty forgiving. It’s foaming soap, not an atomic bomb.

I generally use around 1 part soap to 4 or 5 parts water.

Pour one part soap into your soap dispenser.




Then pour 4 or 5 or 6 parts of water.  The more water you put in the more cost savings you’ll have but the less foamy the soap will be.



To mix the water into the soap you just have to do it slowly and gently. Just tip the container back and forth slowly until the water is incorporated with the soap.



I wasn’t even going to do this tutorial because it’s so logical and so easy but I thought the same thing when I did a post on How to Peel a Peach. I figured everyone knew how to do that to and as it turned out … they didn’t.



If the screw top of your foaming dispenser fits other jars with a screw on lid that are more attractive then you could attach it to that the same way I did with these Pouring spouts and Bottles.

If your foaming dispenser screw top is an odd size then you can just slip the whole thing into a nicer container so it’s hidden. If you can be bothered.  My dispenser actually fits into a black ceramic vase perfectly.  It would have been great if I’d taken a photo of it.  But I didn’t.  Cause I’m not quite as geniusy as we thought just a few paragraphs ago.




And that’s it. That is all it takes to make me happy. Soap that self lathers and having a brain large enough to figure out how to make it myself.

Which in terms of brain size puts me right up there with your average squirrel.

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  1. Connie S. says:

    Brillant and economical – LUV it !

  2. Valerie says:

    I am actually glad you did a post about foaming hand soap. All along I thought the foam was created because of the design of the pump on the top. Thank you, much appreciated.

  3. kate-v says:

    I’ve been wanting to make my own foaming lather with my favorite soap for quite some time. I will try your method this week. Thank you.

  4. Seriously?! It’s that easy?! Woot woot! I can’t sleep tonight. So….guess what I’m going to do? Make foaming soap dispensers. I’ll be as clean as a whistle by the morning.

    You rock out loud!

    Lynne 🙂

  5. turbocharger says:

    Be sure to use the clear as opposed to cream-based soaps. This doesn’t work with creamy soaps. Also, don’t shake too vigorously… Trust me on this.

  6. Karen says:

    O.K. That’s great! Good. But, you can’t really make the foaming dispenser. It’s just the soap. You need the foaming dispenser to put it in. I may need to go back and reread my post and make that clearer. Squirrel brain. ~ karen!

  7. Karen says:

    Hi Valerie – It is the design of the pump on top that makes the soap foam. But regular soap won’t work in it. To refill it you need to do as I’ve done and water down the soap. Otherwise it’s too thick for the foaming dispenser and it won’t work. ~ k!

  8. Karen says:

    I’ve never used the cream based soap to do this so it could very well be true. Shaking it vigorously? That’s definitely true, lol. ~karen!

  9. No worries, you said it right in your post, I was just half asleep. I already have the foaming dispensers in my house, and they are all low on soap. I was feeling guilty that the little expensive dispensing bottles were staring at me. Waiting…waiting .. for soap. Filling them now 🙂

  10. Anita says:

    I do this! Foaming soap is so nice. I was at a restaurant last week and they had a foaming soap dispenser in the ladies room. Problem was they didn’t dilute the soap when they refilled it so it was really difficult to get the soap out of the bottle. I considered thinning it out for them, but A) there was a line to get in the bathroom (and I didn’t want to walk through a mess in the hallway because I took too long blending in the water!), and B) If I fixed it for them they would never learn how to do it right for themselves.

  11. Tigersmom says:

    Yikes! I read this post. Then I realized I had no recollection of reading the How to Peel a Peach post which led me to Karen’s Abs and I almost forgot to come back with my come back to this post.

    I want to really like foaming soap but I’m a bit leery of it because I have been told that the friction of rubbing your hands together which creates the foam is what actually gets off the germs. I imagine that you can probably rub the pre-foamed stuff enough to do that, but I don’t like the feeling of doing that much rubbing with the foamed stuff.

    This is starting to sound like I’m over-sharing, but I swear I’m only talking about soap.

  12. danni says:

    I like to get the liquid soap refills at a super-fancy unnamed snooty mall French soap place (see? I didn’t name it) and use it like this. Maybe one part soup to five parts water and refill a nice “foaming” soap container. It is waaaaaaay cheaper to get the pouch of refill and it lasts forever. Thanks for doing this one Karen!

  13. Kat says:

    For once I got to know something before you did Karen. And I really mean for ONCE. Now here is an important note to those who didn’t. Have you ever been to a place that didn’t do it right. EWWW too much water dilutes it and crap no foam and the damn stuff squirts soapy water all over you and the sink and you have to clean it all up before you leave the bathroom so your hosts don’t think your a slob and just left their lovely sink a mess!! So follow Karen’s directions proper or reap the results like I did and stood there in a bathroom wondering how much of their toilet paper from mopping up soapy water I can flush without clogging it and making matters worse.

  14. gabrielle says:

    I believe using warm water is just as important as rubbing your hands, which you can do either with a bar of soap or ready-made suds. Now that the cool whether is here in So. Ontario, this gives me time to hold my bar soap in my hands, wait for the gush of warm water, and dream of the fresh peaches we had this year… ah, peaches! The skin is the only thing that keeps the juice from running down your face. Well, that and slurping. Ummmm.

  15. Wendy says:

    You know? I had this lovely pump lavender foaming soap and have been meaning to look up how to do my own foaming soap and am happy I know how now. Some unscented soap and lavender oil should do the trick right? Thanks Karen. Appreciated. 🙂

  16. Su says:

    oh nice…. really… now I gotta go look up the how to peel a peach post….

  17. Diane says:

    I do this and I also add a few drops of essential oil to help kill germs and give the soap a nice smell. Whatever helps kill germs and extend the budget works for me.

  18. judy says:

    I actually had thought of this but put too much soap to water and naturally it didn’t work . I thought of really diluting it more but would it still get my hands clean? Being nicely ADD some other idea begun not completed distracted me. I must say every time I pick up a bar of soap I wonder if I’m getting germs off my hands or adding to my hand germ population. Wash my hands for a…………….long time when that thought occurs. Loved this post-pinned it for the attention of America.

  19. Kipley says:

    I dilute the soap in the big refill bottle, having saved one. Then you just need to fill your soap dispensers. I like foaming soap because it doesn’t drip all over the sink from dispenser to faucet.

  20. Heather says:

    I have actually kept the special pump from one of those expensive foaming soaps with the intention of making a dispenser out of a mason jar. It’s on the list. Thanks for the ratio – once I get around to it I’m all set!

  21. Jody says:

    This is THE best news. I love foaming soap. I cannot find foaming hand soap that is fragrance free which I need because of allergies. Stupid fragrance allergy!!!! I’m so going to try this.

  22. cathy says:

    i have found that adding the soap to the water keeps it from foaming all over; that said, gentle agitation is key.

  23. Debison says:

    Do not try to fill your foam dispenser with the liquid soaps that have little moisturizing beads in them. I did that once. Just once. It clogs up your pump. And then it’s broken forever. Just use a clear refill. Even dish soap will work.

  24. Mary Werner says:

    OK This is really brilliant! Clear soap and my favorite scent. I just didn’t want to buy the fragrance oil due to the cost and then only use it once or twice. This justifies the cost and makes me VERY happy. Thanks!

  25. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    I’m getting so smart reading this blog. I can peel a peach, make foaming soap, know how make my own pizza oven and want chickens all because of you, Karen. Thank you. Have a great day!

  26. Ruth says:

    I do the same thing, but – because adding water changes the formula of the soap – I add a bit of peppermint or tea tree essential oil to keep my mind at ease about ‘bacterium breeding potential’. Love it! 🙂

    P.S. Between a brief bout of chikungunya and celebrating the fact that the end of the drought has come into view…. I have been rather quiet, but I’m still around.

  27. jainegayer says:

    How did I miss the “How to peel a peach” post?

  28. kari says:

    I am of the population that actually knew how to do this, but it’s the only thing of yours I have know how to do. I am just thrilled that I read the whole post and was reminded of how to cover up the ugly plastic container by slipping it into something more lovely. Thank you for that! You ARE the genius….always!

  29. Debbie says:

    I was intrigued with the post and now that I’ve read the comments, I’m excited. I may make my soap smell like wintergreen, one of my favorite scents. Or maybe lemon, or lime, or geranium! I love essential oils! My favorite household cleaner is vinegar with wintergreen or lemon oil. I know lavender is supposed to be calming, but it just isn’t my favorite scent.

    I haven’t read the How to Peel a Peach post, but I do have the book and really enjoy it! It is a fun book.

    Does anyone decorate used pump soap containers? If so, please share.

  30. Karen says:

    Welcome back Ruth. I need to knkow what chikungunya is. ~ karen!

  31. You can also make a great o e using 1 c distilled water and 1 oz of castile soap plus essential oils for a custom smell more organic soap.

  32. Alice says:

    Umm, Karen, I hate to be picky — but you do know “all riled up” usually means angry, don’t you? That really confused me at the top of your post…

  33. Sue says:

    Well, since you mentioned that you were reluctant to do a post on something that seemed obvious but was actually helpful to a surprising audience, how about a post on how to navigate “Pinterest” – or, is it one of those things that if you’re not intuitive enough to figure it out, you should delete the App from your IPad?
    You can tell me. I can take it!
    Foamy soap. Who knew?

  34. LazySusan says:

    For those concerned that watering down the soap dilutes the anti-bacterial qualities of the soap, you could wash your hands with plain water and get not much different results as using undiluted anti-bacterial soap, in terms of remaining bacteria on the hands. It’s also been shown that there’s not much difference between washing your hands with regular soap and anti-bacterial soap, in terms of remaining bacteria on the hands. The differences are minute. It’s still better to use soap, just not incredibly better. I’ve been watering down hand soap and shampoo since I was a young woman, following the logic that if I use water to get it to lather, then it needs water to work better for me. The result has been that I use less soap at a lower cost. I don’t seem to have a problem with it getting all over the place when pumping it. It just goes into my hand, which is over the sink. Foaming soap dispensers are something about which I was completely unaware. Completely. Never heard of it before. We live in the country. That’s my excuse. I’ll keep an eye out for a dispenser and try it, since I’m already watering down the soap, anyway. Looks like it would feel nice!

  35. Jody says:

    I just made foaming soap! Yay for me. I would have replied sooner but I was peeling bark off a maple stump to make into a side table. The top of the stump even has the marks left behind over the years when the tree had been tapped for sap.

  36. Lisa says:

    I can’t wait to try this, seems like it may not be a good idea to put the oil in the refill bag as it may start to get rancid before emptying. Has anyone tried it with creamy liquid soap? Also, Karen, I mis-type the word know the same way you did…..every single time I type it…weird.

  37. Leslie says:

    Yay, yay, yay, yay, yay!!!

    I have spent many hours feeling sorry for myself because I can’t find refill bottles of foaming hand soap. With my sensitive skin, I vastly prefer the easy-rinsing properties of the foaming hand soap (read as “I’m too lazy to rise”). Plus that, the little plastic bottles of foaming hand soap are kinda spendy and I hate not being able to reuse them so I just don’t buy new ones (I’ve got a fleet of empty foaming dispensers under my sink).

    It TOTALLY figures that the hand soap industry has figured out how to charge us MORE for the watered-down regular soap.

    Thank you for this “obvious” post. It is going to be helpful at my house.

  38. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Thanks..I like the foaming soap and I will do anything to save money..well..mostly anything..

  39. Lynne says:

    Give your empty Bath & Body Works foaming soap dispenser a rinse, fill it with water until all the foam spills out, tip some water out and add a few gulps of liquid soap (the large containers of soap made for refilling). Put the top back on your dispenser and give it a shake to mix. Simple, and I use the moisturizing cream soap.

  40. Ruth says:

    ‘Affectionately’ referred to as ‘Chik-V’ on the island, it is a mosquito-borne virus (so say the ‘experts’) that causes symptoms that appear to mimic chronic arthritis, along with fever, nausea and muscle pain. It’s crowning glory is the itchiness (rash, in some cases) that arrives as it bids you goodbye. (That adieu is relative, since most folk are left with arthritic reminders of chik-v past)

    It showed up in these parts in the latter part of 2013 and has swept the eastern end of the island like you would never believe. Islanders in the west are now doing battle too.

    Fun times…

  41. Stephanie Hobson says:

    For me, it’s knowing that I have soup in the freezer. One of the most comforting things in the world. lol

    And the foaming soap tutorial is the bomb.

  42. Bobbie says:

    Yes, Karen… how does one pin a website when it doesn’t have a pin button? The world wants to know… 😉
    Nice report on the foamy soap. Dishwashing soap?… well, that’ll work for me. Save some bucks too.

  43. Karen says:

    Hi Bobbie – To do that you just have to copy the link to the page that has the thing you want to Pin. Then in Pinterest you can “create a Pin” from the url. ~ karen!

  44. Karen says:

    You can also download a “Pin it” app for your computer that adds Pin It to your browser. ~ karen!

  45. Lynn Johannson says:

    Yep, Dr. Bronners castile soap diluted works great and the gallon I bought seems to be lasting FOREVER….

  46. Jamie H. says:

    I liked this post – but was actually more interested in learning how YOU would peel a peach…I assumed with a potato peeler (seeing as I like eating fuzzy peaches). Dunking it in hot water!!! Seems nutso, but obviously is the way to go! Thanks for the new info – in both posts 😀

  47. Alex says:

    I had no idea you could peel a peach….huh.

  48. Jenny says:

    My husband and I do this! So easy and cost effective. 🙂

    Now please excuse me while I go shovel the snow we got overnight. D:

  49. Julie says:

    i will attempt a bathroom reno but i’m afraid of making my own foaming soap. thanks for this!

  50. Maggie says:

    Sounds like a great way to save some cash while making your bathroom look fabulous!

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