DIY Natural Liquid Hand Soap

Close up of homemade liquid hand soap and dried lavender. Photo by One Woman's Notebook.

Making your own liquid hand soap at home is as easy as mixing together a few ingredients. It’s quick, cheap, and you can be sure it’s natural and contains no nasty ingredients.

As a plus, I have found that using homemade hand wash is much less drying on your hands, compared to the store bought version.

We’ve started 2020 with some crazy times – a global COVID-19 pandemic, panic-buying at the stores, strict orders to stay home. I bet you hadn’t imagined yourself Googling the best songs to wash your hands to, for those all-important 20 seconds.

So if you’ve looked forlornly at the soap aisle in the supermarket, to find empty shelves of hand soap – this recipe is for you. It’s time to make your hand wash soap at home! It might even keep your cabin-feverish kids busy at home (well, for 10 minutes at least).

Why make your own natural hand wash at home?

  • It’s easy! The recipe below shows you it’s a very simple 3 steps.
  • It’s non-toxic – as with all things homemade, you know exactly the ingredients you’ve used. No hidden nasties or ingredients that you can’t pronounce. You likely have many of the ingredients at home, already.
  • It’s economical
  • It’s a great activity for the kids!
  • You can experiment with your favourite essential oils to make a scent you enjoy.

How to make homemade hand wash soap

You will need:

  • 1 cup (250ml) of boiled water, cooled
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) of liquid castile soap
  • 1/4 cup (about 60ml) of oil. Macadamia, olive, jojoba or sweet almond oil are all good choices.
  • 2 level teaspoons of xanthan gum
  • 30 drops of your favourite essential oil/s (optional)
  • A hand wash dispenser with pump lid

How to make:

  1. Measure out the oil, and stir in the xanthan gum. Stir until it’s mixed in well, with an even consistency.
  2. In your container/dispenser, mix together the water, castile soap, and your essential oils (if you’re using them).
  3. Gradually pour the oil mixture into the water/soap mix (not vice versa), and keep stirring quickly. After a minute or two, the mixture will thicken.

Voila! You have now made your own hand wash soap at home!


The choice of oil is up to you, it doesn’t make too much of a difference. I personally like to use macadamia oil, but any of the oils used in natural skincare would be good to use. Olive oil and avocado oil can be used in a pinch, if you’ve got them lying around in the kitchen.

Xanthan gum is a thickener, that is often used as a food additive. It dissolves very well in oil, so the first step is super important. Stir it into the oil well! Don’t try to cheat and mix all the ingredients together in one go. Mixing xanthan gum into water only gets you into a big lumpy, gel of a mess. You have been warned!

Water should be boiled, then cooled before use. This step is primarily to kill off any microbes in the water.

Castile soap is a very versatile, non-toxic soap. I tend to use Dr Bronner’s, but use any type that you like!

Essential oils are optional – totally up to you, and feel free to experiment to find a combination you prefer. I like to include a few drops of tea tree or eucalyptus oil, for a bit of germ-killing power.

Lastly, make sure you gradually add the oil mixture INTO the water and castile soap mixture, and not the other way around. It is just a lot easier for the soap to emulsify by mixing the oil in. I recently made a batch where at the end, I got lazy and poured the water/soap mix into my oil mix – it didn’t fail, BUT, I did need to do a LOT more stirring and shaking to get the hand soap to combine together well.


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