Bath + Beauty soap recipe image via Shutterstock

Published on March 12th, 2012 | by Julie Finn

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Make Your Own Liquid Soap: Natural Recipes for Liquid Hand Soap, Dish Soap, and Laundry Soap

soap recipe image via Shutterstock

Good liquid soap–the kind with no weird scents or dyes, or dangerous artificial ingredients (triclosan? Yikes!)–can be expensive. When you want to shop frugally, it can be easier to opt for the cheap liquid soap that has questionable ingredients, or the less expensive but still good bar soap even if you prefer liquid.

If you’re a hard-core DIYer, however, you’ve grown used to the knowledge that you never have to do without anything that you desire, because you can probably make it for yourself, with better ingredients, using exactly the ingredients and scents that you prefer, a lot more cheaply than you can find store-bought.

Read on for several recipes for liquid soaps that you can make yourself–some are very frugal, some are very fancy, and some will clean your dishes or your laundry as well as your hands.

  • Liquid soap from bar soap: The most inexpensive of all these inexpensive recipes comes from Savvy Housekeeping, which offers a tutorial for making liquid hand soap from bar soap. This recipe is also quite versatile–you can use your favorite natural bar soap, your special sensitive-skin bar soap, or your homemade bar soap equally well. Be sure to read through the entire Comments section before you begin your own project, however; bar soaps can be very different from each other, and the Comments provide some valuable troubleshooting for liquid soaps that may start out too thin, or end up not completely blended, etc.
  • Liquid laundry soap: These days, we generally only use homemade powdered laundry soap–it’s an easy recipe for a kid to follow, so when we need more laundry soap, I just add it to the chore list. However, when my kiddos were younger, I found this liquid laundry soap recipe (tutorial here from Housing a Forest, because the comments have some good troubleshooting and clarifications, although the recipe was originally posted by the Duggars) to be much easier to use overall, since I could work on making it off and on over the course of one weekend and end up with basically a year’s supply of laundry soap. The recipe is also a good one for those who simply do a lot of laundry–large families, managers of emergency or animal shelters, families with kids who play in the mud as much as my kids do, etc. Don’t tell my kids, but when they’re old enough to work independently at the stove, we may switch back to liquid!
  • Liquid soap from scratch: If you enjoy soapmaking, you likely don’t want to simply rebatch a bar of soap into liquid soap–you want to make your liquid soap from scratch! Chickens in the Road offers a complete, well-illustrated tutorial for making liquid soap from scratch, and you’ll be pleased to see that it is fairly similar to traditional hot-process soapmaking. Sure, it’s more challenging than transforming bar soap, but just as in traditional soapmaking, the wide variety of oils that you can use, all with different qualities, can allow you to craft the perfect liquid soap for your skin type.
  • Liquid dish soap: Yep, you can also wash your dishes with homemade soap–check out the liquid dish soap recipe from Tried and True for a workable recipe. To get the best results from this particular recipe, I suggest using lemon juice instead of vinegar (vinegar can curdle castille soap), and double-checking the type of water in your area (this recipe will work with soft water, but not with hard).
  • soap nuts: I’ll tell you now that washing with soap nuts is one thing that I can’t give you an educated recommendation on, because I haven’t tried it. However, Crunchy Betty gives an explanation of making liquid soap from soap nuts thorough enough and a tutorial simple enough that I’m quite intrigued. Are there any soap nut aficionados out there who want to offer some recommendations or tips in the Comments section?

[soap recipe image via Shutterstock]


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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



14 Responses to Make Your Own Liquid Soap: Natural Recipes for Liquid Hand Soap, Dish Soap, and Laundry Soap

  1. Tina says:

    These all sound really cool. I am very intrigued by the soap nuts…

    • Julie Finn says:

      I am, too! The only blogger that I’ve ever followed who used them also did all her laundry by hand in the bathtub and refused to cook with her oven because it used too much electricity AND made one of her kids sleep on a mattress under the baby’s crib, so she wasn’t so much a valid source in my mind to evaluate their ease and effectiveness, you know?

  2. Pingback: Make Your Own Liquid Soap: Natural Recipes for Liquid Hand Soap, Dish Soap … | Soap Making

  3. melanie says:

    Triclosan is an antibacterial ingredient. Much needed otherwise u are just rubbing your germs around

    You are bashing something that isn’t scary and is in dish soap face soap and hand soap.
    know what you are talking about.

    Soap is soap and I like my store bought great scented soap Thx

    • Melanie, I completely disagree, and Julie does know what she is talking about.

      In a clinical environment, like a hospital, triclosan certainly has its place, but in over the counter cosmetics and soaps it is completely unnecessary. Overuse of antibacterials like triclosan are a public health nightmare and the driving force behind the resistant bacteria we are seeing more and more. “Soap is soap” sounds good, but it’s also very flip and couldn’t be more untrue. Read up on triclosan before stocking up on more of that “great” soap.

    • Stephanie says:

      Here’s what’s wrong with the “soap is soap” statement. Not all soaps are good for you and not all soaps are bad for you.

      Some soaps contain ingredients that are a by product of diesel and have the same caustic effects as sticking your hands is gas. Some “great smelling soaps” contain antibacterial agents that come from a lab that says “to much of this will cause skin to burn”.

      On the same page as “soap is soap” if you wish to dump proven synthetic, harmful, and/ or unnecessary chemicals in your skin, on your hair, or coat your clothes in it… that is perfectly okay because it is your choice.
      I just ask you to not be flippant toward people who choose to stay away from things like that.

      Just as I wouldn’t dump diesel over my daughters head to clean her, I refuse to dump a shampoo or use a soap that could hurt her as well.

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  5. Maria E. says:

    I’ve read numerous, credible articles that discuss the overuse of anti-bacterial agents. Germs and bacteria are becoming not only drug resistant, but some sources suggest they are becoming resistant to many disinfectants including ones used at hospitals. Your skin is the largest organ and absorbs much of what it comes into contact with. Even though you may not want to make your own soaps, it would be in your best interest to find a credible retailer to purchase soaps and other products with more natural ingredients. Your own body and future generations will thank you.

  6. Melissa says:

    Found your blog from google and find it great to be spreading the word that ANY chemical, such as triclosan, has no place in soaps that are coming in contact with your skin!
    It is NOT just “pushing the germs about” when you wash with soap that doesnt have chemicals like triclosan in them. Soap has been around for a very long time! The “germs” are displaced from the surface (skin, fabric,countertop) then washed away with the water! Some bacteria are actually good for you! When you start killing off ALL bacteria with chemicals, you allow the bad bacteria to thrive without any good bacteria to keep them in check! Antibiotics, and Chemical laden anti-bacterial soaps have just added to the horrible circle of sickness and medicine nowadays. It is true that some strains are becoming resistant due to the over use of ingredients such as this! YOU check your facts and quit buying into what the media tells you, as they DO not have your best interest at heart, they want you to continue to be apart of the consumerism brainwashing!

  7. We n says:

    I used soap nuts for everything for a long time..cheap, loved the smell, but my DH hated the “hassle”. Personally never found it a hassle. For laundry, I just threw a sack of soap nuts-3 or 4 in the wash. For toothpaste I made a liquid that worked great and I used it to wash hands, brush teeth, clean bathroom, wash dishes etc. The only thing I didn’t like was the liquid had a shelf life, not sure how long, but I found it worked best to make it every week which for some people may be a hassle – perhaps there is a sultion to this? Also on occassion the kids would do the laundry and not close the soap nut bag which means soap nuts in the wash. I’ve been thinking of going back to them, I find they are better for my skin than the expenseive all natural laundry soap we have been using and I miss my soap nut toothpaste and the smell..love the smell. But since DH hates them I’ve been looking at other options. Oh with whites laundry we never used them because the whites can get dingy. And my DH is particular about his whites… Oh and we are not a weird family, just a regular middle class family that likes to keep an eye on expenses and the best option for the environment. :)

  8. JD says:

    All soap is not created equal. My daughter has terrible eczema and was on 2 different tubes of cream. Being a young teenager she hated it. 2 years ago I came across DIY Laundry soaps and other more natural cleaners and decided to take the plunge. Well I’m glad I did because about 2 weeks after using DIY laundry soap my daughter’s eczema was GONE! My son and I no longer have dry, itchy skin either. I don’t care what people say about stuff on the shelf’s being safe I just know what works and what makes my families skin feel bad. Another great thing is it helps us save money and in this tight economy who doesn’t want that?

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  10. Evie Dawson says:

    Thanks for sharing :) Organic soap is such a great idea, and your containers look so spa! Harmful effects of antibacterial soap containing triclosan cannot be ignored.

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