Saving Money by Making Your Own Liquid Foam Soap Refill

 

Saving Money by Making Your Own Liquid Foam-Soap Refill, Recipe

 

Foam soap dispensers are fun to use, but refills can be pricy; especially if you consider how cheap it is to make your own refills. That’s right, not only can you refill the inexpensive plastic bottles from Dial, Soft Soap, and other brands, but you can quickly and easily make your own and save a lot of money. In addition, you can color the refill to match your decor, if you so choose! It doesn’t take a crafty, creative, domestic person to do it. It is easier than making pancake batter from a box!

First off, I’ll explain what the advantage is to using foam rather than regular liquid hand soap: When you use foam, you use much less soap to get the same job done. Regular dispensers usually give you more soap per pump than you really need, while the foam uses diluted soap to give you fun foam to wash with. This is especially nice for families with young kids, as little hands need very little soap, yet a regular dispenser gives much more than needed, even for adult hands. Using foam saves you money right from the get-go, then in addition, you can save more money by making it yourself. It is also fun to use, also an advantage when you try to instill in kids that they need to wash after bathroom visits.

When making my own foam soap refill, I start by purchasing cheap, liquid soap of some kind. Just make sure you choose something transparent that doesn’t contain lotion, such as the one in this link. I believe lotion-containing soaps, or non-transparent soaps such as the one in this link, clog up the pump faster. You can use regular hand soap, or dish detergent. If you choose dish detergent, you may want to select something for sensitive skin. Some dish detergents can be rather harsh since they are designed to break down fats and oils, so they might end up drying out your skin. Or you can do what I do: I buy cheap shampoo. Shampoo works well and there are often a lot of different scents to choose from. I usually try to get something with a lighter color, since I often like to add my own dyes. Sometimes I’ll just leave it as is without adding colorants, and the color will then be very faint, though that can look pretty too. Whatever you prefer.

Making this foam soap refill can be extremely quick and easy, by simply filling the foam dispenser of your choice with 1/4 or so of liquid, transparent soap, and the rest with water. Stir it up with the handle of a spoon or whatever you can fit in there, or put put the top on and gently tip the bottle over until mixed, and you’re done. If you want to add color, you can drip in a tiny bit of food coloring, but since the color tends to be very concentrated, I prefer to dilute it and play around with colors before adding.

Here’s how I do it when adding color:

These are the ingredients and supplies I use, plus water: Transparent hand soap or shampoo, medium and small stirring bowls, spoon, food coloring, measuring cup, a foam soap dispenser to reuse (not a regular dispenser; it must be one intended for foam, such as this one), newspaper to protect my work area, and storage container for leftover soap refill (I love this kind from Rubbermaid, and also purchased more for storage of my fabulous Cold-Brewed Coffee Concentrate!! WooHoo!!)

Note: Scented soaps can, and often will, leave a scent residue in plastic containers, and can be difficult or impossible to remove. This won’t matter for the soap dispenser, but don’t store extras in a container you will later want to use for food. 

Measure up approximately 1 part soap to 3 parts water, and gently stir until mixed.

I used a 1-cup measuring cup this time (which is also nice to use when pouring the mix into dispenser and storage container), though usually I just wing it. It doesn’t matter too much, but approximately 1 part soap to 3 parts water works pretty well and generally gives it the same thickness that you’d get from the store. You can dilute even more if you’d like, especially if you have kids who go overboard with the pump; tiny hands need less soap than big hands, and grown-ups can always take a second pump if they need one. It’s another way you can save money. The foam will be a little thinner if you dilute more, but still works.

Soap and water mixed up:

At this point you can either fill up your dispenser, or you can add dye to mix up your own color. This is a time when you should get some newspaper or other material to protect your work area, as dyes can really stain counter tops and other surfaces. Ask me how I know! I’ll tell you right now that if you do get a drop of it on a surface you didn’t want to stain, wash it off with soapy water immediately!! You may want to keep an old rag nearby just in case, and of course, you’ll already have soapy water on hand!

I purchased a box of food coloring from WalMart, but it should be relatively easy to get a hold of at other stores as well, or you can get it at Amazon.com: Food Coloring This box contains red, blue, green, and yellow. You can mix these together to create new colors, such as red and blue to get purple, or red and yellow to get orange. Here’s a link to help you mix a few different colors: Making New Colors with Food Coloring

I have only tried the liquid dye, not the gels for this purpose. I don’t know how gels would work, but hey, you could always try it and leave me a comment to let us all know.

Anyway, this is where the tiny plastic cup comes in handy. Clear ones allows you to see the color better. I pour some water into the little container, maybe 1/3 c or so. Then I mix in a drop at a time of the dye. The reason I mix it into water first and not directly into the soap refill, is that these colorants are extremely strong. So if you mix up your color in water, you can use a spoon to add a little at a time into your soap refill, until you get the right shade, preventing you from accidentally adding too much.

Here’s the deep purple color I mixed up in my little cup. It looks almost black in this picture. It took only two drops of red and one drop of blue to get this shade, but of course the original color of your soap will play a role in the final outcome as well.

Pour a small spoonful of water-diluted dye at a time into the foam soap refill mixture, until you get the color you want. If the surface that the soap dispenser will be kept on has a deep color, you may want to go light on the soap color, as it tends to look much darker against an already dark surface, and the color may not show up very well.

Adding a little more, then testing to see what it will look like in the bottle on the surface it will be sitting on when it’s done.

When I’m satisfied with the color, I put on the pump, test it to see that the soap has the thickness I like, then pour the leftovers into a storage container to refill later.

For your information, the pumps will often clog up after several months of refilling, but I experienced the same thing with an expensive bottle that was designed to be reused. TWICE! So I figure I’ll stick to the cheap ones, and buy a new one when the old one hits the dust. In the meantime, I’ve saved money by making my own refills, while having fun with colors and foam.

My dispenser originally had a label on it that I peeled off, then removed glue residue using GooGone.  I just think these bottles look better without the label. A clean look that goes with any decor, with no distracting advertisement. But that’s just me. I’m a label peeler…

Testing to see that it ended up the way I wanted it, and it did. I now have my own, inexpensive liquid foam soap refill, and I made it myself, quickly and easily! Talk about saving money!

 

 

 

 

About Terese

32 Responses to “Saving Money by Making Your Own Liquid Foam Soap Refill”

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  1. Joan says:

    How fun to read this. It speaks to my concerns about the environment.

    Some liquid soap is so thick it just falls off your hands into the sink before you can even rub it into a lather. Foam just gets you to your goal a lot faster. Such a smart idea. Lets face it. If we can minimize by 75% the amount of soap we wash down our drains, we ultimately will have less contaminates in the water we drink.

    • Terese says:

      Yes, I should have added that it helps our environment! ;) Thanks for the reminder, how very true! Some pumps give out this huge, thick gob, then you have tiny little toddler hands learning, who really only need a tenth of that, if even.

  2. Tony Orocko says:

    Saving money while saving the environment… that’s a win-win situation for everyone!

    My plan is to use just a little bit to get my hands nice and clean.

    “A little dab will do ya!”

  3. D Hanson says:

    One other suggestion: ALWAYS wet your hands before using any kind of soap. It makes things work better saves soap and the environment.

  4. Renita says:

    Thank you do much for posting this; it WORKS!!!

  5. Bill says:

    Great advice! I have been using this method for about 3 years and it works really well. I got into this when my bathroom sink trap plugged up and I had to clean it out. I will not happen now.

    To mix it, I use a clear plastic, round bottle and I mark it off and I fill with soap to the first line and then with water to the second line.

    I go about 3.5 to 1 and I got this from a reusable bottle that came from Pampered Chef.

    I use this for hand and dish soap, shower gel and clear shampoo.

    • Terese says:

      That’s awesome! And using shower gel is a great idea! I agree that it is very easy to mix it right in the bottle, that’s how I used to do it as well (though I didn’t mark the bottle, just poured in 1/4 of the bottle w/ soap, the rest with water, then mixed.) These days I like to add color to the solution, so that adds a couple of steps.

  6. Sharon says:

    This recipe looks great – I’m excited to try it! One thing I might add is a ribbon bow around the plastic dispenser bottle or a piece of tied homespun fabric just to make it look a little prettier in the bathroom (think holiday ribbon during the seasons, birthday ribbon if it’s someone in your family’s special day, etc)! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  7. Annie says:

    I didn’t even consider making my own foam soap so I always buy the replacements. This will help save so much money, thanks so much.

  8. Donna says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. I was stressing about finding a way to refill the soap dispenser in the bathroom my daughter uses. The soap I bought isn’t available in refills at my local store, so I had to buy another pump. Now, thanks to your recipe, I used her body wash to make some soap to fill the dispenser and it works great! Thank you again for sharing this. You have saved our family SO much money.

  9. Jane says:

    This is amazing! I’ve been lugging around a cheap bottle of shampoo with me as I move from apartment to apartment for three years now. I switched to expensive salon shampoo a while back but I just can’t bear to throw out my old stuff. Now I can make it into hand soap! Ahh cheap bottle of shampoo. This is your fate. I knew I kept you around for something. Thanks so much for posting this!

  10. I’ve been doing this for years, first with a Pampered Chef bottle for 10 years until it broke, and now with a clear Dial foaming hand soap bottle reused a million times. We even use the same cheap shampoo! I’ve recently switched to using the kids’ store brand clear/yellow baby wash – that way I can wash their faces or get off my mascara without stinging eyes. (Yes, I still use facial cleanser for my whole face after – baby wash feels drying – but it’s so much faster than getting out the goopy remover!)

    I also use concentrated dish liquid in the Dawn Direct Foam dish soap dispenser the exact same way as this in the kitchen. So convenient when you have to pre-wash or hand wash dishes. Or for a little dab on a rag for wiping down splatters on the stove. Works for washing hands, too, in the kitchen.

  11. nwoodrum says:

    thanks for the recipe. we just ran out of expensive foamy soap from bath and body works and i’m not going there anytime soon, i have everything i need to make it so i’m going to do that now. i’ll let you know how it turns out.

    • Terese says:

      Yes, please share! I hope you’ll love it! It is so easy and inexpensive to do it at home. :D And of course, you can do it without adding colors, so then you can just fill a bit (like 1/4th) of soap directly into the bottle, fill the rest w/ water and stir with a fork or spoon. Quick and easy. Playing around with colors can be fun though.

  12. Ann says:

    How can I tell if there is too much water or too much soap. Sometimes it gets too bubblely.

    • Terese says:

      Well, if it’s too watery, the foam won’t seem to work very well, it just kind of melts away in your hands while you wash and you won’t feel like you got enough. If it’s too soapy, it will be very thick foam that seems like you got more than you really needed. But there is no real right or wrong, it’s all what you prefer. I find that if I mix approximately 1 part soap to 4 parts water, it’s about right for how I like it. I rarely measure, I just do a bit of soap to quite a bit of water. ;) You get the feel pretty quickly. You can always add more water or more soap to get it the way you want it.

    • Katy says:

      I experimented with measuring so I could do it the same way every time. Originally I just eyeballed it, but it didn’t always turn out right, and I couldn’t always tell if the problem was too much water OR too much soap. I end up using 1:12 ratio of soap:water usually, but can definitely add more soap up to 1:6 ratio. I know this is less soap than described above but it’s what has worked for me. I also reuse the plastic dispenser from the store from when the original contents were gone.

      • Terese says:

        That’s one of the great things about this soap; you can use how much or little you like, whatever works better for you. There is nothing magical about a correct amount, just get the hands slippery enough that the germs and dirt slides off when rinsing. :) Thanks for your comments and insight!

  13. Katy says:

    I use distilled water to dilute since I fear that my home’s hard water clogs up the pump quickly. I’ve been doing this for a few years and use the large bottles of liquid hand soap refill. I mix up the diluted soap and store in an old empty refill bottle so when one of the many soap dispensers in the house runs out, I just squirt into the dispenser and done! I only have to mix this up once a month or so…. and I’ve discovered that what works well for our foaming dispenser is only between about 1:12 to 1:6 ratio of soap to water.

    I also love doing this because my little ones sometimes open up a dispenser and pour the whole thing out! It’s less messy AND wastes less soap when filled with the diluted foaming solution; also, I think their hands get rinsed more thoroughly (and with less water!) when they don’t have a ton of the goopy liquid concentrate to wash off their hands at each wash.

  14. Ron says:

    I am the foaming soap maker in the family and have experimented with several ingredients. I found that putting about ½ oz. of glycerin USP in the solution helps lubricate the pump reducing the clogging problem. The glycerin also helps reduce the harshness of the soap and is completely safe…it is even used as a sweetener in the food industry. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycerin). Glycerin is often the main ingredient in lotions.

    I also use a foaming dish detergent (Dawn) at the kitchen sink for small jobs. A little foam charges the sponge and definitely reduces the waste of using detergent directly on the sponge or dish cloth.

    A 2-3 parts water to 1 part glycerin makes a great after-shower lotion to reduce wintertime dry skin. There is no odor/fragrance unless you ladies want to add a drop of essential oil. The best part is the price is way below using commercial bath lotions with all those additives.

    Most drug stores have glycerin USP and even hobby stores usually carry it for soap making.

    • Terese says:

      Wow! That’s a lot of very useful information! Thank you very much for sharing your insight! And for those who may not know, 1/2 fl.oz is the same as 1 Tbsp. I actually already have glycerine on hand, and I’ve used it straight before on dry patches of skin that was hard to heal. It has worked wonders for me. I love your ideas!

  15. Diane Nelson says:

    We just downsized and moved into a condo that has a shower dispenser. I need help making shampoo and conditioner that will dispense-purchasing environmentally approved is too expensive. I normally use shampoo and conditioner (Head and Shoulders) but they wouldn’t dispense. Help!

    • Terese says:

      I’m sorry, I don’t know. I don’t have any experience with these dispensers. Maybe do a search to see what others use, or you may just have try a few different brands. Maybe one that isn’t so thick?

  16. gina says:

    May God richly bless this website.

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] Saving Money by Making Your Own Liquid Foam Soap RefillNormally, I like to post more general tips, but I just couldn’t resist with this one. Liquid foaming hand soap: pretty much the best invention known to man, especially since it’s no longer just for the newly potty-trained, who must now learn to wash their hands when they’re through. Now, we ‘big kids’ can use it, too, and it comes in all of these fun scents and it’s just so light and foamy and . . . well, you get the point, it’s awesome. However, the coolness factor is, unfortunately, built into the price. It is slightly more expensive than (boring) bar soap. If the sequester has got you penny-pinching, like many of us, fear not, because you won’t have to give up your fun soap! Apparently, with the small investment in just one bottle of foaming soap (to get a dispenser of the proper width), you can continue to make your own refills on the cheap. [...]



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