This 2-Ingredient DIY Foaming Hand Soap is Such a Smart Hack!

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Here’s how to make foaming hand soap!

making your own foaming soap refill

Here’s a household money-saving tip that’s easy to do!

If you buy foaming hand soaps, consider saving those soap containers (or buy a foaming soap dispenser on Amazon) and use them to easily make your own foaming hand soap! It’s as simple as combining liquid soap and water together – that’s it.

What an easy way to save money and it’s also better for the environment too since you’re reusing plastic containers instead of throwing them away!

woman using DIY foaming soap refill

With so much focus on handwashing over the last couple of years, this idea makes so much sense and can save you cents too. I am personally so impressed with how well this simple DIY works and the foaming soap it produces! 

ingredients to make hand foaming soap refills

Tips for making the best foaming hand soap:

  • I also opted to add a few drops of tea tree essential oil for the natural antibacterial qualities. However, this ingredient is totally optional.
  • I used an empty soap container from Bath & Body Works and removed the label first by soaking it in hot soapy water for a bit, then it was easy to peel off.
  • Using distilled water is recommended but not required. If your soap will be getting used within the week you should be fine, but any longer you may want to consider distilled as it will stay fresh longer and also is less likely to clog the soap container with hard water.

pouring castille soap into a soap container

pouring water in diy foaming hand soap

adding tea tree oil to hand soap refill

shaking up foaming DIY soap refill

easy foaming soap refill

DIY Foaming Hand Soap




Pour soap in an empty foaming soap container about 1/4 of the way full.


Add water but be sure to leave a little room at the top – about an inch. Add a few drops of tea tree oil (optional).


Screw foaming spout back on, shake lightly to combine water and soap, and you’re all set. That’s it!

person using diy foaming soap refill

We actually first posted this how to make foaming hand soap idea 6 years ago, so here are a few helpful reader comments from that prior post:

“I’ve been using this recipe for a long time! My daughter’s hands crack to the point of bleeding with regular soap, since we have switched to homemade foaming soap it had become much less of an issue. We use peppermint Bronner’s. It makes your hands feel tingly after washing.” – Chantel

“I do the same but often use the Bath and Body Works shower gel. Works great and smells wonderful. I have added tea tree oil as well.” – Natasha C. 

“I put a few clear glass marbles in the bottom of mine. It helps mix the ingredients with a quick shake and also acts as a weight to keep an almost empty bottle from flying off the counter if you hit the dispenser too fast or off-center.” – Karen

“I do this in a B&BW foaming soap container and add several drops of lemon essential oil and a drop of yellow food coloring – it looks and smells like the lemons on the bottle.” – Karissa

“I have been doing this for years with Method Hand Soap. I mix it with the water in the Method foaming containers. Works great.” – Lori

Here’s how to make your own natural cleaning spray!

About the writer:

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 11 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 66

  1. Tiffany

    This is great for little little ones who are just learning how to wash their hands. It helps with soap waste and it helps them see if they are getting every part of their hand clean. Did it with my kids over the years.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh nice – yes agree on the soap waste! 🙌

  2. Ellen

    I have been doing this for years. I reuse the bath and body foaming soaps I receive as gifts.. I can’t bring myself to buy them myself when they are pennies to refill. I primarily use the seventh generation dish soap as a refill as you can get a case of 6 on Amazon every once in a while for around $2 each. It takes about 1 inch of soap and the rest water.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Nice! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hilary

    We do this with Dr. Bronners. We started doing it in our camper, but found it was so much cheaper and easier than buying soap constantly, that we started doing it in our house. The bonus is that in our camper we can use the foaming soap as shampoo and body wash for showers on trips; no need to carry loads of bottles of stuff!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ohhhh smart! Thanks Hilary!

  4. Meg

    I’ve been doing this for years. I love it.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Great – thanks Meg!

  5. Myrah

    This is EXACTLY what I do with my Dr. Bronner’s soap!!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing Myrah!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh nice find! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Amber

    I do this with dish soap also. Dawn with water! Then you only use what you need.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh smart! Thanks Amber!

  7. Jackie

    Have been also doing this for years. I used bath & body works shower gel! I get the shower gels when they have their semi annual sale. I reuse the foam containers from them also. I put the shower gel and warm water. I feel like the warm water dilutes the shower gel much better. They smell exactly like the soaps they sell because they ARE their soaps! 😉

    • peachcraze

      Would this disinfect like regular soap? Genuinely interested.

      • Amber

        Most hand soap isn’t antibacterial/disinfecting unless it states that it is. I would however imagine that diluting a soap that is antibacterial might lessen its efficacy but I don’t know the percentages enough to say so for sure. Seeing as most hand soap isn’t already antibacterial, I would say it’s better than nothing….

      • Jackie

        Yes, it would disinfect just like regular soap!!! 😁 I saw a 20/20 report a few years ago and it showed how washing hands good is all it takes to kill germs and bacteria. They tested regular soap washing (the shower gel dilution would be the same as regular soap) vs antibacterial soap. The result was the same. If you was your hands for 20 seconds, scrub both back and front and between fingers they will be clean.

      • Amanda

        You could always add an essential oil to the mixture that acts as a good antibacterial

      • Darla

        Most are not antibacterial including Bed and Bath products. Most hand soaps you just have to wash for 20 seconds

      • Lorenza Vidris

        Soap disinfects, just not as much as ethanol, which is the ingredient (between 60 to 70%) in sanitizing soap. I assume you could add sanitizing soap, but I personally have not tried it, so I’m not sure.

    • Jodiqueen

      Thanks for the idea about the shower gels! I’ve been doing this for years but hadn’t even thought of doing it with the Bath and Body Works shower gels I’m frequently gifted .😊

      • Jackie

        Oh my goodness you will never go back once you use the shower gels! I promise 😉

    • Crystal

      Yesss! That’s what I came to the comments to post. Their body wash makes great hand soap, and cheap!

      • Jackie

        Super cheap! Specially if get them them on sale or clearance. I think I have purchased them for like $2 and I can make 3-4 soap pumps from that. So way less than $1/ pump bottle 😉😁

      • Shilpa

        Who’s body wash are you referring to? I am looking for more options. So the question.

  8. A.B.

    We use this method with Dr. Bronner’s soaps, as my kiddos have sensitive skin. They LOVE the almond scented Castile soap, they think it smells like cookies!!! After baths we use the Kirkland signature coconut oil as moisturizer, and they all smell like a coconut cream pie… NOM! I’m going to use your suggestion for distilled water, Lina! I have noticed our dispenser in the guest bathroom seems less “fresh.” Thanks for this post, I love finding new ideas, y’all are the best! 💕

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That does sound nice! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Angela J

    I use Equate brand peppermint castile soap just for this purpose. I like my foaming glass soap dispenser from Walmart too. Didn’t ever think of using distilled water – thank you for that tip!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh nice! Thanks Angela!

    • Kathleen

      I would love a glass dispenser but haven’t found any. Do you have the name of it,or is it just Walmart brand?

  10. Sue P

    I refill mine using the free small bottles of BBW shower gel that are often offered! Smells awesome and a real cash saver!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That is so smart! What a great way to use those Sue!

  11. Tammy

    I have also been doing this for years. I have eczema and using this diluted method actually helps a lot, plus I don’t ever feel guilty about using lots of soap. I appreciate everyone posting about the brands that work for them. FWIW, I use the creamy white ones from Dollar Tree that you can get every day for a buck. (I think they are 64 ounces.)
    They go a long way and don’t trigger my eczema. The clear anti-bacterial ones, no matter what the brand, are the worst for breakouts. Just throwing this out there in case it could be a cost saving option for others who may have skin issues.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for adding your tips about the soap that works for you!

  12. Deb

    Any ideas of something to add to keep microbes from growing? Even with distilled water it needs to be used fairly quickly. The 2 of us would not go through a bottle of soap in a week.

    • JD827

      A Star Hip2Saver is a recognized member of our Hip2Save community hand selected by our team for demonstrating a long history of engagement with helpful & friendly comments across and our social channels. Our Star Hip2Saver badge acts as a verification for readers who know the ins and outs of all Hip2Save sets out to accomplish — assisting our community to live extraordinary lives on ordinary budgets. Readers cannot pay or provide any sort of exchange in order to earn this badge. Rather, they are invited to participate by a member of the Hip2Save team and opt to have the Star Hip2Saver badge added to their profile & comments.

      You could try a dash of apple cider vinegar. If you go to a craft store there are preservatives people buy to use in home made cosmetics but I think you would have spent more than you have saved at that point. Why not only mix up what you would use in a week? Just scale the proportions down.

      • Deb

        thanks for the vinegar idea

  13. Cynthia B

    Just be aware that tea tree oil is toxic to kitties.

  14. gentledogwalker

    What makes it for me? I have been using Dr. Bronner’s soap and water in an old soap container and it never foams. what am I missing? Is it the distilled water that makes it foamy or is it the actual dispenser that you use?

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      It is the specific type of foaming dispensers. Look for soaps that come in one at the store then reuse it or they sell empty ones via amazon linked in post.

  15. Melsoca

    We actually do this at home as well, but I omit the tea tree and add a little rubbing alcohol to the mix to disinfect. It’s not entirely necessary as the act of washing and scrubbing your hands is what gets rid of the germs and flushes them down the drain.

  16. jdsbarb

    I’ve been doing this for a long time.

  17. Jane

    I buy the NON FOAMING hand soaps from Bath & Body works and use those to make the foaming soap in one of their old bottles. It smells awesome! 1 bottle will make 4 batches. I also just started using my Mrs. Meyers (hand soap) bottles I found on clearance at Walmart and those also work/smell great. Any soap will work and I have even used shampoo when I was in a pinch!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh that’s smart! Thanks Jane!

  18. siena95

    So the key to foaming soap is the dispenser? Must be an orig. foaming soap dispenser?

    • acgold

      Yes! It is the mechanism in the pump that allows the air to create the foam. Any foaming dispenser, new or recycled!

  19. Maria

    Great tips in the comments! I’ll have to try the essential oil tip. Anyone have luck unclogging a pump that has stopped working? Thanks!

  20. Norma

    I have been doing this for the past year, ever since soap was almost impossible to buy. One large bottle of Dr. Bronner’s has lasted since then for my household of three. I love the rose scent, but the peppermint is surprisingly refreshing! I purchased glass soap dispensers from Amazon and the pumps haven’t failed. I think I’m going to try creating specific scents, next.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That sounds great! Thanks Norma!

    • Darla

      I love their bar soap!

  21. knight_allyson

    I had no idea it was this easy to make foaming soap! I bought several foaming soaps from bath and bodyworks a month ago and had an empty bottle sitting by the sink. I jumped right up and refilled it with shower gel and I’m so excited about the money this is going to save me!!! This is perfect!!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh yay! I am so glad this post was helpful then!

  22. Cherryluva

    Thanks for this. Our walmart stopped selling refills of foaming hand soap.

  23. rocme2

    I’m confused about why people are saying that adding water to your soap would make it go bad. Soap is already mostly water and of course, most people are adding tap water that has been treated for bacteria and other cooties. And soap is a surfactant, it’s mostly about the friction that is created when you rub your hands together. I’ve been diluting my hand soap for decades, never noticed a decrease in effectiveness.

    • Darla

      Yes! Lol! And the soap we buy is mostly water already! Haha (I worked in a lab at a surfactant company)

  24. lsillen

    Has anyone refilled the Dawn spray dishwashing bottles? Same concept/ratio??

    • Michelle B

      I’d like to know this too!

  25. bizzymama

    Love this- doing it for years! I also buy the unscented Dr. Bronner’s and add in ~15 drops of a favorite essential oil. Mostly the Germ fighter oil from Plant Therapy – smells just like Thieve’s! 🙂 Gives me a good excuse to use the oils that I don’t diffuse often enough.

  26. Erin mi

    We have been doing this for years with Dr Bronners. I love the lavender scent. We use it for hand soap, body wash and even use it in place of shaving cream. I do have an issue sometimes with the dispensers clogging over time. Does anyone else experience this? I do use distilled water.

  27. Kim

    We have been doing this for years as well. Bath and body works foam pumps work the best and actually last months without breaking. We have 6 people using them all throughout the day too! I buy the big bottles of unscented antibacterial hand soap, add about half an inch to empty bottle, then I take a scent I love from bath and body works foam hand soap and add an inch on top of the half inch unscented soap and gently fill the rest with water. I do this to get the same great smelling bath and body works scent with only using a little bit. One of the bath and body works will produce over 10 refills if you use in conjunction with regular unscented soap. It’s more just for the smell. You can add more if you like a stronger scent. My little like it because it smells good while they are washing their hands and after. Buy doing this we have saved so much money. One 64oz unscented antibacterial soap will last us a year with this method and again, we have 6 people home all day, we do a lot of hand washing here

  28. Lisa

    If you put the water in the dispenser first, then add the soap, it won’t foam up while you’re mixing it.

  29. ToriSC

    Been doing this ever since I discovered hand soap make my hands itch. I use the Seventh Generation Free & Clear plant based dish soap and have had no more problems. Works great and is super cheap.

  30. Natalie

    If I am not mistaken, adding the EO is not the best idea. It won’t emulsify in water and soap. You would have concentrated areas of just EO and that is not good for your skin.

    • Dr Mike Grant

      Yes, I am surprised that so many peeps recommend adding a few drops of essential oil to the soap… STOP! The oil won’t mix easily with any soap and water solution. So what to do? Instead use WATER SOLUBLE (steam distilled) Lemon Myrtle essential oil that instantly dissolves in water. Only a few drops is needed. Lemon Myrtle essential oil is anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-mould, anti-bacterial and much more. It is even more effective than tea-tree oil. We add it to our Dr Bronner foam solutions, simple!

  31. Dr Mike Grant

    Dr Bronner is our preferred option in the home and work place for all over body cleansing – there is no equal. But wait! … If you use tap water to dilute Dr Bronner, then sooner or later your foamer pump will stick and then you might have to attend a mechanical engineering course (ok, slight exaggeration), to disassemble and clean said mechanism to get it working again. So what to do???
    Always use distilled water, reverse osmosis water or next best choice use bottled water that is VERY low in dissolved solids (TDS) – which is usually listed on the label that most people never read. The calcium and magnesium ions contained in contaminated, chlorinated tap water will cause the soap to separate out these tiny solid particles and then block the fine mesh in the foamer. This is better known as soap scum you can see when it accumulates in the bath water.

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