DIY Foaming Hand Soap

I’m going to go into this assuming you know foaming soap is a rip off.  You know that, right?  You pay the same, or more for foaming soap and for that you get – less soap.  Here’s how to make your own diy foaming hand soap.

Skip right to the tutorial.

This soap tutorial has been the number one thing people have been coming to my site for since the world changed. I’m not sure why, but I thought since it’s so popular that now would be a good time for us all to revisit it. I’ll be upping my soap game here in the next week or so but for now, here’s how to make DIY foaming hand soap.  

It’s the little things in life that get me all riled up and in a good mood.  Remembering I have leftover pizza in the fridge. Watching squirrels scurrying around trying to find hiding places for their nuts in the fall.. 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 harder to find than regular soap and is usually more expensive. Even though you’re getting less soap.  Because 500 ml of regular soap = 500 ml of regular soap.  500 ml of foaming soap is actually only a tiny bit of soap and a bunch of water.

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.

Can You make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap?

You CAN indeed make your own foaming hand soap. But for the soap to foam you need a special foaming soap dispenser. If you’ve ever bought a foaming soap that’s in a dispenser this technique will work in it.

What Makes Foaming Soap Foam?

The reason the soap foams has nothing to do with the actual soap. It’s the way the soap is dispensed.  Foaming dispensers add air to the soap as you push down on the foaming pump. If you take a look at your foaming soap dispenser you’ll see the soap is held in the main chamber, and then attached to the pump there’s a smaller chamber. It’s that chamber that forces air into the soap as you pump it out.

Is it Better Than Regular Soap?

Aside from the fun of having your soap being pre-foamed for you, foaming soap is actually better in many ways than regular liquid soap.  Here’s how:

  • People use less soap when dispensing it from a foaming dispenser. This makes it more economical and means that foaming soap lasts longer.
  • People use 15% less water to lather with foaming soap so that’s less water use which is environmentally friendly. If you only use water to rinse your hands and don’t add water for the initial hand washing, using foaming soap will save 45% of the water used during traditional hand washing.
  • Using foaming hand soap reduces the amount of soap you use for each hand washing which in turn means you get more hand washes out of each package. This means you’re reducing the amount of packaging used.

How to Make Foaming Soap

  1. Mix 1 part liquid soap with 4 parts water in a foaming soap dispenser.
  2. Slowly mix by gently turning soap dispenser until incorporated.

 

You can actually use 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.

You can use any foaming soap dispenser you have. Obviously you can use refill any store bought soap dispenser you have like I’ve done here.  

But if you plan on doing this a lot I’d recommend getting a nice, heavy glass foaming soap dispenser.  You can get 2 glass dispensers for $20 on Amazon.  They’re solid and heavy, so when you’re down to the last bit of soap your dispenser won’t flip over or tip like the lightweight plastic dispensers sometimes (always) do.

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 in this billion year old post 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.

 

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

DIY Foaming Hand Soap

Yield: 1 container of foaming hand soap

Foaming hand soap is just watered down regular soap. Here's how to make it.

Materials

  • Liquid hand soap
  • Water

Tools

  • Foaming soap dispenser

Instructions

  1. Add 1 part of liquid soap into soap dispenser.
  2. Pour 4 parts warm water into soap dispenser.
  3. Make sure there's at least 20% air at the top of the dispenser. (in other words don't fill the container completely)
  4. Gently agitate dispenser to emulsify the soap and water.
And that’s it to DIY foaming hand soap. 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 nut hiding squirrel.

 

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DIY Foaming Hand Soap

187 Comments

  1. Marie Dunn says:

    By diluting the soap so much are you still killing the germs on your dishes?

  2. Deborah Bell says:

    My soap came out runny! Any suggestions, how to correct the problem?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Deborah. The soap will be runny. Are you using it in a foaming soap dispenser? It’s the dispenser that makes the soap actually foam by injecting air into it. ~ karen!

  3. Claude says:

    I found that adding 3-4 squirts from a big dispenser of Head and Shoulders to a mostly full bottle of water is great for getting just the right amount of shampoo into the hands and onto the hair. I do have to shake the bottle each night before I dispense it.

  4. Surrounded by squirrels says:

    With six kids and often daycare kids as well, the economy of the foaming dispensers and making the soap myself was essential! But recently I had an epiphany. I hated the bit of shampoo & body wash always left in the bottles at the end. For the shampoo, I pour in about a half cup to a cup of hot water, shake to clean out the bottle, and pour it over my head. Like foaming soap, I get the best lather ever as it distributes the soap thoroughly down to my scalp and the water is already there. For the body wash, I add enough water to give me approximately your 1:4 ratio, shake gently to mix, then leave it under my sink. When my foaming dispenser needs filled, I grab one of these, pour it in and toss the already rinsed bottle in the recycling with a satisfied smile.😊 But, as someone else commented, be wary if you use the type with lotions or it’s very creamy as these don’t work quite as well & may clog your dispenser.

  5. Will says:

    Hi everyone,

    Two days ago I mixed 4 parts water and 1 part soap in my two foam soap dispensers and mixed well. Soap came out nice and foamy. All was good for a couple of days then on the third day the soap is coming out on both dispensers very watery and does not lather. Any ideas why this may be happening? And does anyone have a solution? I am using Pure Vegetable Glycerin Liquid Soap.

    Thank you

  6. Jill says:

    Thank you! This is so ridiculously simple. I never bought the foaming soaps because I knew they were a rip off, but my kids asked me to get them recently. I do like that they make less of a mess with the foam than liquid soap. Cleaner kids, cleaner sink, and money savings to boot, win, win! I will be trying this out later today and can’t wait.

  7. Barb A says:

    I saw a handy one that was really expensive.. it was a foam you spray on toilet paper to save on wet wipes.
    Good when camping etc (brand is bi.det I think. )
    If foam wash was made from the nilaqua (old folks/nursing) soap watered down or herbal mix it might be good..
    Our water companies really cross about wet wipes down toilets.

  8. Victoria says:

    I was looking for homemade foaming soap recipes to find out if it was the pump/dispenser causing the foaming action (like I thought) or not. I wanted to find out if I could use an empty soap dispenser (and if it has to be a foaming one) from a previous store purchase with tablets I found online instead of purchasing the company’s starter kit to get a dispenser. This answered that question. I have a 7 year old who is VERY lax in her hand washing and the foaming stuff works loads better for her. Good to know we can think down liquid soap from the big jug we have instead of spending tons of money on the stuff. Sometimes we can find liquid hand soap in huge bottles for 1-2 dollars that’ll last us for months.

  9. Brian Pringle says:

    For what it’s worth, I have been experimenting with different ratios and I have discovered that a ratio of approximately 1.5 to 4 (soap to water) gives me the best results with the dispensers I use. Your mileage may vary, depending on soap used and pump.

    I have had no luck using dish soap like Dawn, it seems to clog up the dispenser sooner rather than later. Some have said it is super concentrated, but I also think the strong grease cutters in the soap messes up the inner workings of the pump.

    Using regular unscented Soft Soap type soap in a 1 to 4 ratio gave me too much spitting in the foaming dispensers I use. The liquid appeared to be too lean on soap, so I increased the ratio to 1.5 to 4 and it is much better with no spitting.

    ALSO, I add a little fragrance oil (maybe a teaspoon or less) to my mix, (a half/half mix of baby powder and jasmine fragrances) however I have also discovered that you must use plastic containers with a “1” in the recycled symbol on the bottom or the fragrance oils will soften the plastic. Glass is also an option, but I really don’t like glass containers in the bathroom, if I can avoid it.

    Another tip: When mixing the soap/water, gently mixing the two is not immediately effective. The soap breaks down into globules which don’t fully dissolve right away. Instead allow 24-48 hours for the soap to fully mix with the water. Another option might be to mix the soap in a separate container ahead of time OR use a stick blender to quickly mix the soap/water.

    I hope this helps those with foaming soap issues.

    • Kat says:

      Where do you find unscented soft soap?!

      Being allergic to 99% of anything with a scent I’ve been looking for fragrance free hand soap forever!

      I was using a store brand no scent oat body wash for a while (for hands), very moisturizing, but of course, they stopped selling it! Oy.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Kat, just as an FYI, I’m in Canada and the Bulk Barn carries refill bottles of completely scent free liquid hand soap by The Unscented Company. ~ karen!

      • Brian Pringle says:

        Hi Kat,

        Look around and you can find it.

        Soft Soap does a unscented version and I have also found unscented generic soap in the grocery store under the store brand name. Look for the larger, refill sized containers, they are the most cost effective (cheapest per ounce).

        A big bottle of unscented soap like that will last for a long time, especially if you are diluting it to use in a foaming dispenser.

        I hope this helps.

      • Stephanie says:

        Whole Foods has a fragrance free liquid soap.

    • Joe says:

      My first try at DIY foaming soap was with Dawn. After some trial and error a soap/water ratio of 1:4 works very well. The original Dawn pumps typically last me a year of weekly refills and the foaming pumps from Dollar Tree soap fit the Dawn bottle. The ratio also works with various shampoos, body wash etc.

  10. Tiffany Marino-Kelly says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I’ve fallen in love with the Mrs. Meyers soaps, but they are expensive. By making a foam soap, we’ll be able to stretch it! Thank You!

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