Homemade Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap

Store-bought antibacterial soaps aren't good for us – but how else can we prevent germs? Make this homemade antibacterial foaming hand soap!

By Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

Over the course of the past couple of years, I’ve enjoyed learning how to make homemade products–like homemade liquid dish soap, homemade deodorant and various homemade food products, like bread crumbs and cream of chicken soup.

Today I’m giving you a recipe for a safe antibacterial foaming hand soap.

Besides being void of the harmful triclosan found in conventional, store-bought antibacterial soaps, this soap recipe is easy, frugal and 100% natural!

The antibacterial ingredient in this soap is thieves essential oil. Thieves oil is a natural antibiotic and disinfectant (source).

Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, robbers (or thieves) used the oil blend of cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemon, rosemary and clove to rub over their bodies to protect against the plague in Europe.

The only brand I have ever used is Young Living Essential Oils, which is supposed to be very high quality. But the first time my family used it, we actually tried making our own.We first used it by making our own thieves disinfecting room spray when we suffered from nearly 4 weeks of the norovirus last spring.

Without further ado, here’s a super easy tutorial for homemade antibacterial foaming hand soap!

Homemade Antibacterial Foaming Hand Soap
  1. Combine water and soap.
  2. Pour soap mixture into bottle/jar with foaming soap pump.
  3. Add 5 drops essential oil to soap, mixing gently.
  4. Enjoy your antibacterial foaming hand soap!


Where to buy foaming pumps? I found a few: this one goes on top of pint-sized mason jars, this one has a glass/metal container and looks slightly classier, and this is the cheapest one I saw.

You can really reuse any foaming soap dispenser for this tutorial, but my family has enjoyed using this tutorial to make attractive soap bottles out of old canning jars. We made a peppermint version of this soap to give as Christmas gifts last year!

This tutorial can really be changed and used with any variety of essential oils to alter the scent. The thieves oil, though, makes it a great soap to use during the fall and winter months when illness runs rampant–but you don’t want to break out harmful antibacterial soaps!

Want more information about how to use essential oils for your home and health? My friend Mary at The Encouraging Home has a free eBook guide to essential oils on her site.

Have you ever used essential oils to make homemade soaps or other personal care products?

Collage images by aMichiganMom, RaeDuSoleil, fireballsedai and The Humbled Homemaker.
Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.

About Erin O

Erin is a follower of Jesus, wife to Will and mommy to three little redheaded girls (born in 2008, 2010 and 2012). She is a life-long, professional dreamer and recovering overwhelmed homemaker. Her mission is to encourage, educate and empower her readers at The Humbled Homemaker to live a grace-filled, natural life. She is the author of a 200+-page eBook all about cloth diapering-- Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert: A Simple, Comprehensive Guide to Using Cloth Diapers.

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  1. How much does this recipe yield?

  2. Hi Erin, I love Jesus too.

    I stumbled across your website looking for a natural alternative to bought antibacterial soaps. Thank you for this recipe. Not sure what I an buy here in Australia yet. Can use any essential oil in place of the thieves oil?

    Blessings in Jesus’ name


  3. Hi, great post! I have a question, is this strong enough to protect me and my family when handling raw chicken in the kitchen? I have been looking for something that is strong enough to keep the germs at bay when handling raw meat, but without chemicals and nasty stuff. Thank you!

  4. Does anyone else have an issue with getitng the soap to fully dissolve? My bottles are clear and there is always a layer of soap at the bottom that no measure of shaking or stirring will fix. This also causes my soap to be thinner, with less foaming. Any ideas?

  5. My son has an autoimmune reaction to pretty much any virus that causes his hands to break out with some pretty heavy duty eczema, making hand washing with most store bought soaps a battle. We found a brand that didn’t irritate him too much, but it’s getting harder and harder to find in our area. Is this soap fairly gentle? I’m getting desperate for something to use when the sniffles are running rampant around here.

  6. This is so great!! I am learning so much from your site. I just found it, and I have to say it is good to know I am not alone. My family thinks I have gone crazy because I am trying so hard to NOT use harmful chemcials. Thank You!

  7. What. A. Fabulous. Post. I ordered stuff for body butter ASAP, pinned the foaming hand soap, bought the book & will be blogging about my adventures as such! I do some things like scrubs already, but am thrilled to replace my Bath & Body Works stuff.

  8. Sorry, I just found the answer to my question by reading all the comments ;)

  9. I like the white lid and pump on the mason jar in your pic. Is there a source for that?

  10. Love this idea and I have a way cheaper source for the pumps! When I met my husband he was a potter and we shopped for his ceramic supplies at a company called Aftosa. There’s a minimum $20 order but the foaming pumps are only $7.65 each and the plain soap pumps are get this 44¢! I think I’m going to make these as Christmas gifts!

  11. This is the only hand soap we use but I’ve yet to buy thieves oil. I’ll be ordering some for sure! Thanks, Erin!

  12. Great and easy. I was introduced to Thieves by Young Living a few years ago. I have never looked back. I’d like to try this recipe but will have to find our where I can purchase the Castile soap in Australia.

    • I had another reader ask me about getting castile soap in NZ today. I’m so sorry I didn’t realize you had trouble finding it in that part of the world. :( I know I’ve seen some homemade castile soap recipes on the web, but I’ve never tried any. Maybe someone else will have an idea?

    • A reader below says she uses dish soap!

    • Try online at “Aussie Soap Supplies” or a local health food type shop. If you’re in Melbourne, I know Naturally on High (High St, Thornbury) sells it.

    • You can get Castile from many Aussie online stores. Newdirections.com sell it at a good price and also health food shops sell it. It’s pretty cheap about $9 for 500ml.

  13. I really liked the pump you used. I looked at all three of you links and none of them were similar. Please let me know where you got yours.

  14. I look on craigslist and ask on freecycle for used/empty foaming soap dispensers. i would prefer glass but I’m cheap.
    My foaming soap recipe isn’t antibacterial…I use 10-12 squirts of liquid Castile soap and fill the rest of the container with water (not too much, you need to leave room for the pump).

  15. Could u not buy some handsoap from the store, wash it our VERY well & reuse?? Anyone tried this?

  16. U have been making a similar recipe for the last 4 years and I live it. As far as a foam pump goes I recommend buying Method brand foam pump soap from target and reuse it. I would say they last about 1 year or more.

  17. I also have the same question is why do you suggest using it- is it for times of illness or all the time? Doesn’t our bodies need to deal with some germs to help our immune systems? I don’t understand.

    • I think it would especially be useful during times of illness, but some people seem to squeamish about not using antibacterial soap at all–and this will give them a natural, healthy, harmless version to try.

  18. I have been doing this for quite some time now, although I just use our dish soap (7th Gen. or whatever we have at the time), squirt it into the bottom of the foaming pump container until bottom is covered, add Thieves and fill the rest of the way with water. Works extremely well and saves a whole lot of money!

  19. I couldn’t find the lid you used to fit on a mason jar on the website you linked. Can you post a more specific link?

    • We actually purchase our lids in the canning section of Wal-mart! You can also use a regular canning lid–but we like the plastic one to prevent rust.

  20. Did you make the pump in your picture with a plastic wide-mouth lid & the pump from One Step Ahead? Did you simply cut a hole for it & glue it?

  21. Could you use tea tree oil instead of thieves oil? I have some tea tree oil on hand but wasn’t sure how many drops to use. I want the antibacterial quality but my boys have super sensitive skin (and tea tree oil is kinda potent!).

    • I’ve been using Erin’s recipe (I think it was on her blog a while ago) for several months. I use tea tree and peppermint oils instead. I just put a few drops of each into the bottle. They are both potent, but it’s not much when mixed with so much water and soap.

    • Yes–you can absolutely use tea tree–about 5-6 drops. Tea tree and lavender smell so great together! And like Karen said, we LOVE using peppermint during the holiday season!

  22. What a fantastic soap recipe! Thank you!

  23. Store-bought antibacterial soap is so bad for you, so I too loved the idea of making a natural version. I make mine with Dr. Bronners + tea tree oil.

  24. Love, Love LOVE this post! I have been thinking about doing this!! Love the idea of peppermint for Christmas!!

  25. This sounds like a great recipe but I have one question: Do I want my family to use antibacterial soap all the time, even if it is from EO’s?

    • That’s a great question. We personally only use it during times of sickness and use the same recipe with other oils the rest of the year. However, some people who are newer to natural living may want to use it more often while they are transitioning their mindset out of the “we must wash with antibacterial soap.” It’s nice to have an option that’s safe, healthy and natural.


  1. […] Don’t have any foaming bottles or pumps? I found a few online: this one goes on top of pint-sized mason jars, this one has a glass/metal container and looks slightly classier, and this is the cheapest one I saw. These are also perfect for making your own foaming hand soap. […]