Soap’s On: Cleaning up doesn’t have to be a dirty business


When I think of washing my hands as a kid, the memory of a slippery, unattractive bar dripping onto the bathroom sink comes to mind. It’s not surprising that my family now uses liquid soap for hand-washing. Pump containers are more user-friendly for little hands, and I like that they limit the mess factor. Plus, truth be told, I’m a sucker for a great-smelling soap in a pretty container.

But there are downsides to pump soap. Constantly tossing out plastic soap containers is definitely not Earth-friendly, and soap scents are often made with harsh chemicals. In an effort to limit waste and the use of such chemicals, I decided to make my own liquid hand soap, and reuse the containers I saved from prior use. 

The following soap recipe uses traditional cooking methods. It might feel more like making soup than soap, but if cleanliness is next to godliness, you’ll think making your own soap is heavenly!

How to Make Your Own Handsoap

  • 11 cups water
  • 1 bar Castile soap
  • 1 Tbsp glycerin
  • 10 drops essential oil
  • Recycled soap pump containers


  • Grate soap bar into small shreds. Bring four cups of water to a boil and add grated soap. Slowly stir until fully melted. Remove from heat and add the glycerin and remaining water. Once the liquid is cooled, add the essential oils. Let sit overnight.
  • The solution will thicken. Using a blender or a hand-held mixer, whip the mixture to produce a smooth consistency. If it’s too thick, add more water. If too thin, add more glycerin, 2 teaspoons at a time. Pour into recycled pump bottles.

For foaming soap pumps, add 1/4 cup of the soap solution to the bottle and fill with water. Shake to mix.

Leah R. Troianoa certified cancer support educator, works with people who have cancer or would like to prevent cancer. Videos on how to make the products featured in this column can be found Contact Leah at