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A Frugal and Natural Way to Wash Your Hands


A few years ago I decided to look at our hand soap to see what was in that. I discovered that the active ingredient in most hand soaps is Triclosan. It works by killing bacteria on your hands. Great, right? That’s what hand soap is supposed to do. However, there is good bacteria on my hands that I don’t want to die. There are also concerns about Triclosan being part of the cause of bacteria becoming immune to common antibiotics.  Besides, studies have shown that washing your hands with plain soap is just as effective as washing them with an antibacterial soap.

There are other concerns about Triclosan, though. One study found that Triclosan acted as an endocrine inhibitor in frogs and another study found the same thing in rats. Umm…no thank you! I like my endocrine system just the way it is. I also like my baby’s endocrine system to be left alone– Triclosan has even been found in breastmilk! Yikes!  I’ll stop there.  Are you convinced yet? :)

I also started looking at Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS), which is a very common foaming agent in soaps. It is a skin irritant and some studies showed it was carcinogenic, although that is up for debate.

I’ll admit here that I kind of glossed over the Sodium Laureth Sulfate issue and was more concerned about limiting Triclosan, so I concentrated on that at first and decided that eliminating SLS from our home would have to be another “baby step” on down the road. I can only do and afford so much and sometimes I just get overwhelmed.

So, for a while I just used a soap that didn’t have Triclosan as an active ingredient. (Which is getting surprisingly difficult to find these days.) (It still had SLS.) It worked fine, but I could only get it in the UK.

After looking around a bit, I discovered that natural hand soaps can be a little expensive. Finally, I realized I could use Dr. Bronner’s soap! We had replaced our shampoo with Dr. Bronner’s already, so I don’t know why it took me so long to think of using it as hand soap too. The ingredients are not scary and it works great. No Triclosan or Sodium Laureth Sulfate! Better yet, its concentrated, so I can dilute it by 50% and it still works just like it is supposed to. Even better was that it came in different scents. The peppermint is our favorite. Its very refreshing and leaves your skin a little tingly. If you don’t like peppermint, you can buy the unscented and then use your favorite essential oils to make it smell however you want it to.

I would like to mention here that another option for natural soap would be to buy a bar that someone has made. Etsy has lots of homemade soap for sale. I wanted a pump soap, though, because my kiddos are not dexterous enough to use the bar soap effectively.

How To Make Your Own Natural Foaming Hand Soap

I’ll show you what you need in order to have your own natural soap.


The only things you need are some Dr. Bronner’s soap and a foaming soap pump. Buy a foaming soap pump from somewhere and then dump the soap out. I bought some Dial Complete  so I could use the bottle and pump from Wal-mart for $1.48 and I got the Bath and Body Works soap bottle from my sister. Perhaps you already have one around the house or you could ask a friend to save theirs after they are done with it. (Even more frugal!)

Then fill the bottle with half Dr. Bronner’s and half water.





Shake it a tiny bit and you are done. That’s it. It’s that simple!

Cost Comparison

Next, I’d like to do a cost comparison for you so you can see that using this soap is not unreasonably expensive.

Cost for each bottle of foaming soap:

Dial Complete: $1.48 for 7.5 fl. oz

Bath and Body Works Soap on sale: $3.00 for 8.5 fl. oz.

Dr. Bronner’s : $13.99 for 32 oz. However, since you dilute it, it will make 64 oz of soap, so I am using that number to figure in the cost. (I am also using $13.99 as the price. It varies from a little less than that to about $14.99. I have seen it on sale at Target for $13.99, though, and Amazon has it for $13.49 right now.)

Cost break down:

Dial Complete: $0.20 per ounce

Bath and Body Works on sale: $0.34 per ounce

Dr. Bronner’s : $0.22 per ounce

As you can see, it is not the cheapest, but if you consider it is all natural and organic (and even fair trade) then I think paying $0.22 per ounce is quite reasonable. Especially since I used to buy Bath and Body Works soap for $3.00 per bottle without batting an eye.

Ingredient Comparison

Now, I’d like to compare ingredients.

Dial Complete:

Active Ingredients: Triclosan (0.60%) (Antibacterial)
Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium Xylene Sulfonate, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Polyquaternium 10, Fragrance (Parfum) (Parfum), Disodium Phosphate, Citric Acid, Red 4 (CI 14700), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140)

Bath and Body Works  Cherry Blossom Foaming Soap:

Active Ingredients: Triclosan (0.30%) (Antiseptic)
Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Dipropylene Glycereth-26, Fragrance (Parfum), Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Propylene Glycol, Rubus Occidentalis (Black Raspberry) Fruit Extrat, Vanilla Planifolia Fruit Extract, PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate, Xantham Gum, PEG-120 Methyl Glucose Dioleate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Panthenol (ProVitamin B5), Benzophenone-4, Tetrasodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, DMDM Hydantoin, Sodium Chloride, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Red 4 (Cl 14700), Red 33 (Cl 17200), Blue 1 (Cl 42090), Yellow 5 (Cl 19140).

Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castille Soap:

Ingredients: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut and Organic Olive Oils (with Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil, Mentha Arvensis Extract, Citric Acid, Vitamin E.


I prefer the ingredients in the products I use in my home to be recognizable. I’m not sure what 75% of the ingredients in the first two soaps are. Obviously, Dr. Bronner’s is the winner in my household. We use it as shampoo, body wash, hand soap, and to clean the sinks and tub.

The Dr. Bronner’s soap does come in a smaller size, so if you’d like to try it without committing to such a large bottle, Target does carry some smaller sizes. (You can get smaller sizes online too and if you have a local natural foods store, I’m sure you could get it there as well.) If you decide you do like it, you can buy it in a gallon jug (which is what we do.)


As you can see, I love Dr. Bronner's!

  1. 12/31/2010 1:24 am

    Great post! Love all the evaluation and information. I admit I was ignorant about most of that. Now I have to track down some foaming soap pumps.

  2. Donna/Nonna permalink
    12/31/2010 9:06 am

    So, you use it for more than your hands. That actually makes it even cheaper if you compare the prices of shampoos, body wash and cleansers. Can I borrow some of yours to try it?

    • Kate permalink*
      12/31/2010 9:32 am

      Of course! I even have a couple extra foaming pump dispenser that you can have. I’ll make some up for you.

  3. Nana Phyllis permalink
    01/07/2011 3:25 pm

    That looks wonderful, Kate – may I say GREAT!! Gotta try this one.

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