Homemade Liquid Hand Soap: My Disappointing Results

I’ve had a recipe in my stash for a while now for homemade liquid hand soap. Having made several batches of homemade liquid laundry soap, I quickly recognized the familiar method for the hand soap recipe. You grate up a bar of soap and then melt it into some hot water. Once the mixture cools down and gels up a bit, you have your homemade liquid soap.

I could see right off the bat that the hand soap recipe used much less water than a laundry soap recipe, which made sense. For a hand soap you want a thicker creamier soap.

So a few weeks ago I gave the recipe a try. I grated up a bar of lavender scented Yardley soap, which smelled really nice and made me feel all happy about how lovely my new soap was going to be. Plus I was cutting the recipe in half so I only needed about one third of the bar grated up. I paid 69 cents for the Yardly soap with a coupon so using only a third of the bar brought the cost down to only 23 cents. Yeah, I was pretty jazzed up about my soap. It looked pretty and made a big enough batch that I put some in an extra container.

Liquid hand soap

And then I used it.

I was hoping this could also be used as a body wash. I put some on my bath pouf in the shower the next day. Not one bit of suds or lather! Nothing! I felt like I was not even using soap at all.

So I squirted a whole bunch onto my bath pouf. A little teeny bit of lather appeared and that was it.

In most cases I am willing to be quite frugal and creative about things, but when it comes to my morning shower, doggone it, I want a nice soapy refreshing experience. The homemade stuff just did not perform.

Was I expecting too much of the homemade liquid soap? After all the recipe did not say “homemade body wash”. Well I tried just setting it by the sink for washing my hands, but it was the same feeling. I got almost no suds or lather and felt like I was really just washing my hands with water.

The homemade liquid hand soap was a disappointing experience for me. I felt that the soap was watered down too much. If I want to save money on hand soap, I’m going to stick with my Homemade Foaming Dish Soap and Hand Soap that uses a similar strategy of watering down liquid dish soap, but the foaming dispenser gives you nice sudsy lather.

I will still print the recipe for the liquid hand soap below. If someone else has had good success with this strategy, please comment below and educate the rest of us.

1 cup soap flakes
10 cups of water
1 Tablespoon of glycerin (optional)

Grate the bar of soap to make your soap flakes. Heat the water in a large pot. Add the soap flakes and stir to dissolve. Let the mixture cool and then put into containers.

A few notes on what I did:

  • I cut the recipe in half as I have a small household
  • I used Yardley lavender soap and omitted the glycerin
  • I used really hot top water instead of heating the water on the stove and the soap still melted quickly.
  • It took about four hours for the soap to be thick after cooling down.

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  1. I’ve tried a similar recipe with Kirk’s Castillo bar soap & added a bit of coconut oil. After using for a while, the soap dispenser pumps up all the liquid & only the hard soap remains. How do I prevent the soap from separating & getting hard/clumpy?

  2. The one thing I notic everyone saying is that it turned into a snot like gel. I have yet to see anyone say they took a mixer or imersion blender to blend it up nice and creamy before putting it into the bottles. It IS A NECESSARY step. I am using soaps I have made to do this, so far so good. Castor oil will help with lather. I would try an ounce of it first…if not satisfatory when use it, just remelt and use a bit more. Juxst don’t go crazy with it. Also, be sure to wait the full 24 hours for it to gel.

  3. Here’s common problem with diy liquid soap: no suds & snotty. That’s because there’s one secret ingredients people don’t know: oil.

    Here’s how to fix the recipe:
    Use 6 cups of water only, when it’s still warm put 1/2 half cup of oil. The oil will soften the texture, no more snotty texture!
    I’ve been on my 6th batch. Used many kinds of soap and natural & cooking oil. If you love suds, the oil that works best is palm oil. It will lather, n the texture will be close like store bought products. Mine is creamy, i prefer it that way.
    If the texture is still too thick for your liking, put more oil instead of water.
    And no, it won’t feel oily. It still cleans well.
    My skin loves this soap, no more tight feeling after shower!!
    Try and you’ll love it!!

      1. I’ve had a hard time too getting the proportions right with my experiments with adding oil. I’ve always wondered if the success can depend on the brands of soap being used.

  4. Glycerin is not supposed to help with sudsing, but rather with thickening it up. That being said, I’m still playing with Oil of Olay and making body wash. I made some last week, following this recipe but from another site, and it was water. I added more glycerin, I boiled it down, I refrigerated it and took my mixer to it. Nothing really turned it into something suitable. It’s like water. I’m using it anyway as I refuse to toss it, but I’m going to go through it within a week or so, which is ridiculous seeing as I ended up using 2 bars in my attempts to thicken it up. I’ll try again with the other commenters advice of a 1 to 1 for Oil of Olay. I cannot use a lot of soaps due to allergic reactions, and Oil of Olay is one of the few that I can. Thank you for your 2 cents on that, as I’ll be trying it soon!

  5. I tried it with the glycerin and got the same disappointing results. You are right, glycerin does not affect suds. ๐Ÿ™

  6. Suds doesn’t equal clean. Suds happen because of additives put in by the company! I think we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that the more suds, the cleaner but it’s not the case. So just because your soap didn’t lather doesn’t mean it wasn’t cleaning.

    1. My bar soap had glycerine .. Why should I add more? I did add about a half cup olive oil my soap so slimy, smells fab but does not lather I think you are correct about lather brain washing but instictavly I want to boil it down a bit.

      Frustrating because hand washing is my OCD problem

  7. I personally think this is too much water. I make a liquid hand soap and only use at the most 8 cups of water and that is only with this strange named soap that I bought a case of years ago from Sam's Club Auction. The name of the soap is Emilin and I can't find any info on this soap. I bought this case to do gift baskets and never used all of it, so I decided to try making the liquid soap with it.I melt one cup of grated soap into 8 cups of water. Let it sit over night and the next morning it looks like a glob of jello. I take the hand mixer to it and it turns out to be like liquid soap after mixing it up for several minutes. I only use this soap for hand soap as I'm not fond of it and would not want to bathe with it.For a liquid body wash I have tried two different types of soap and each one needs a different amount of water.For Oil of Olay it is a 1 to 1 ratio and for Dove it is a 2 to 1 ratio. Both of these turn out good, but you really have to be careful with the amounts of water depending on the soap you are using. With Oil of Olay it was a trial and error for me to get it right. With one bar of soap and one cup of water it turns out to be thick enough for a bath wash. With Dove you need two cups of water to 1 bar of soap and it will be thick enough. I used the larger bars of soap for both of these recipes (4.25).A website named One good Thing, by a lady named Jillee has some really good advise on making your own products.Hope this helps.