DIY Foaming Hand Soap Recipe (Frugal solution for dry hands)

Try this simple, budget-friendly DIY foaming hand soap recipe to heal chapped hands naturally.

Have you ever thought about how much money you spend on foaming hand soap?

Little did I know for the longest time, I was wasting a TON of money on all those little containers.

Not only that, I was exposing myself to a lot of unnecessary ingredients in those store brands.

Many of those ingredients were not good for my skin (or my family’s, for that matter).

Foaming hand soap container with text overlay- foaming hand soap recipe.

And, little did I know (until now) how easy it is to make your own foaming hand soap!

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Why DIY foaming hand soap?

If I’m going to make something, it’s usually because it’s:

(a) cheaper OR

(b) safer/more beneficial to my family.

Since I’ve been working on cutting our household expenses and also switching to more natural products over the last few years –

-hand soap was definitely a DIY project I was interested in tackling.

It’s something we go through very quickly with 6 people in our house (changing diapers and all that jazz).

Lots of hand washing going on here.

Related Content: A Practical Mom’s Guide to a {Naturally} Healthier Home This year

What I learned about store brand hand soaps

A little background:

I used to get “deals” on Bath and Body Works hand soap and loved the scents they offered.

But even with coupons it wasn’t all that cheap.

As I started to become more of a label-reader and ingredient-investigator in recent years-

I started to suspect that my chronic dry, chapped, itchy hands had something to do with those nice-smelling soaps I was buying.

A woman washing her hands under a faucet.

This actually led to a lot of reading up on what’s in my household cleaning products.

And sure enough, my natural foaming hand soap recipe happens to be both cheaper and a healthier choice for my skin.

I previously wrote about some inconvenient laundry facts and why I decided that fragrances (the kind made in a lab) aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Synthetic fragrances are actually a trigger of headaches for me and many others.

Read next: DIY Body Butter recipe

Antibacterial soap: Just Say No

In addition, triclosan, the “germ-killing” ingredient in anti-bacterial soaps, can lead to bacterial resistance.

(Ever heard of super-bugs?)

And guess what:  we really don’t need antibacterial soaps to wash our hands.

What really gets hands clean:  soap, water, and lots of scrubbing.

What we learned in 9th grade Biology and this is still true today.

What has changed is the aggressive marketing tactics of cleaning product companies.

And we’re all subject to this influence!

Trial and Error

After my initial research, I first switched to the Method brand of foaming hand soap from Target.

I noticed a decent improvement in my dry hands and I liked that they contained light fragrances.

(Not as overpowering to my sensitive nose as other brands).

I assumed this was a “safer” option than others.

Natural fragrances- slices of lemon, lime, herbs and essential oil bottles on a white background.

(Side note, I still use either the Method Dish Soap or Grove Collaborative dish soap.

I’ve not found a better/cheaper DIY recipe for my dishes as of yet).

But upon further reading, I’ve basically come to the conclusion that although some of these “green” brands (like Method, Mrs. Meyers) may be safer than others –

-they do contain lots of extra ingredients to extend the shelf life and make them more visually appealing.

All of this adds to the cost and unfortunately didn’t completely fix my dry, cracked hands.

I wanted my 60-year-old hands to match my 30-something-year-old body.

Is that too much to ask? 

Read next: 

Natural Homemade Facial Cleaner: How-to 

How to Make Natural Homemade Dry Shampoo

Success with Dr. Bronner’s

Finally, I discovered the wonders of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.

(Other castile soaps like this one that I’ve tried also work well if you can’t find Bronner’s. But it’s still my favorite.)

If you’ve always wondered what it is exactly, it’s a vegetable-based soap – about as natural as it gets!

It contains 5 types of organic oils.

It’s “pure” soap, and it’s very effective and gentle on skin.

Read next: Homemade Dishwasher Pods (Natural, plastic-free)

DIY Hand Soap for the Win

Castile soap makes an excellent, moisturizing hand soap when diluted.

The simple recipe I’m sharing below costs me around $0.60 per bottle.

(Or less, when I find a good price on castile soap and buy in bulk).

My hands have have improved dramatically since I started using this DIY natural foaming soap recipe in our home.

Since my first experiments a few years ago now, I’ve made up our own hand soap solution hundreds of times.

Image of glass foaming hand soap container on a buffalo plaid table runner.

I’ve also made many batches to give away as gifts.

Once you learn how to make foaming hand soap yourself, you’ll never go back to the store-bought kind!

**printable recipe card included at the bottom of this post

DIY Foaming Hand Soap Recipe and Instructions

Ingredients You Will Need:

Foaming hand soap dispenser

Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap – unscented (3 Tablespoons per 10-ounce container).

Distilled Water (or boil tap water for at least 10 minutes, let cool before using).

Essential oils , optional

How to make foaming hand soap

Step One:

You’ll need to either purchase some foaming hand pump dispensers like the one shown below-

-OR- recycle some of your old foaming soap containers.

Just be sure to scrub it clean before re-using.

The secret to the foam is in the container!

I’ve been able to re-use my old store bought foaming hand soap containers for several months as long as I keep them clean.

Essential oils can degrade plastic over time, though.

So I have slowly started to purchase refillable glass soap dispensers like the ones shown above.

Plus, glass is considered “safer” — no chemicals potentially leaching from the plastic into your soap.

Step Two:

Fill your empty, clean container with 3 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap.

I prefer the unscented castile soap so that I can add my own essential oils and control the dilution.

Generally, the larger sizes are a better value.

You can usually find it on Target,  Amazon or your local natural foods store.

*A 32-oz bottle will make approximately 22 containers of hand soap!!

Step Three:

Next, fill with distilled or boiled water, cooled.

Leave about the top fourth of the container empty, as you’ll need some air in order for it to pump.

Lastly, add about 15 drops of essential oils of your choice (optional).

A few basic oils I like to use year-round are tea tree, peppermint, orange, and lemon.

Several of these also have natural antibacterial properties.

(Without the triclosan!)

Homemade foaming hand soap in a plastic container sitting on a kitchen counter with a bronze tile background.

Experiment with your own favorite oils!  I actually get excited when I run out of soap at my house so I can mix up a new scent.

It’s the little things.

Shake after adding the oils.

And you’ll need to do this every now and then because the essential oils will settle on the top.

I usually shake it every time I use it because I know my family won’t think of it!

Seasonal Scents

I buy most of my essential oils from either Rocky Mountain Oils or Plant Therapy.

They have several seasonal blends to make your house smell festive!

Also read: 6 Essential Oils for Beginners-and what to do with them!

My Seasonal favorites:

Pumpkin Spice– seasonal availability but so worth it.

I’ve had the same bottle for a long time and have made many MANY containers of Pumpkin Spice foaming hand soap.

DIY Pumpkin Spice foaming hand soap with pumpkin decor in background.

Clove bud – mix with sweet orange for a unique Christmas-y blend. 

Reminds me of the clove-studded oranges I made with my grandma as a kid!

Make your own seasonal blend – if the custom seasonal blends aren’t available, you can mix oils such as:

Peppermint, spearmint, cinnamon, and clove. 

These are also great for diffusing to make your whole room smell like fall all day.

DIY Foaming Hand Soap Instructions

DIY foaming hand soap


  • 3 Tablespoons Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap
  • Distilled or Boiled Tap Water
  • 15 drops Essential Oils, Optional


    1. Add 3 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's soap to a clean foaming soap dispenser (approx 10-oz container).

    2. Add distilled or boiled tap water (cooled) to the container, leaving the top fourth of the container empty.

    3. Add 15 drops of your favorite essential oils; shake container before each use.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

You might also like:

How to make Natural Face Wash: Great for Sensitive Skin

DIY Whipped Body Butter Recipe

Review:  The Best Grove Collaborative Products (and a few you can skip)

A Practical Mom’s  Guide to a {Naturally} Healthier Home This Year

The Problem with Homemade Laundry Detergent (and other unpopular laundry facts)

Creative Ideas for Saving Money When You Have a Big Family (or even when you don’t)

diy essential oil hand soap

*Originally posted 9/4/17 and last updated 5/12/23.

20 thoughts on “DIY Foaming Hand Soap Recipe (Frugal solution for dry hands)”

  1. I make my own hand soap for many of the same reasons! In fact, that’s on my to do list for today as we are out in the kitchen and bathroom at the same time!

    1. It’s so easy isn’t it?! And I honestly can’t believe the difference it’s made with my dry skin! I always wondered how I could drink so much water and still have dry hands. It’s so nice to not worry about that anymore. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I wholeheartedly agree with the recommendation to use Dr. Bronner’s soap in a foaming dispenser. After 35 years of hands that were dry, cracked, peeling I was thrilled to discover Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap. The entire family uses this special soap. I seldom need more than one pump of foam to throughly clean my hand. Dr. Bronner’s soap is also environmentally safe.

    1. Hi Kristin – tap water can grow bacteria fairly quickly so unless you’re going to use all your hand soap mixture within a week or so, I’d use distilled or boiled water to cut down on contaminants.

  3. Suzanne Yandell

    Thanks for sharing good information! I love moving towards a more natural/simple home and this is a great addition.

    1. Hi Ashley! I don’t add anything. It’s a clear/yellow kind of color from the castile soap or might have a tinge of whatever kind of essential oils you use. No need for anything else though!

  4. i have a few bottles of Bonners 18-1 hemp lavender and others pure castile soap with organic oils.
    Can I use that in the foam dispenser ?

  5. I’m curious why you don’t include vegetable glycerine. I have been making my soap in the same way, with the exception of adding about 1 teaspoon of glycerine to disperse the essential oils into the water … Is this not right?

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