How To Make DIY Hand Soap At Home – Sherbet Lemon Recipe

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Soapmaking is one of my greatest passions, so I thought I’d share my new DIY hand soap recipe I’ve just whipped up! This is a liquid hand soap that not only cleanses and moisturizes your hands but also smells amazing! 

The delicious scent in this soap comes from the lemon, peppermint and May Chang (Litsea cubeba) essential oils which also have many skin benefits too.

DIY hand soap with some lemon slices and mint


The surfactants within this hand soap recipe act as a cleaning agent, whilst the glycerin will leave your hands feeling soft and nourished. 

If you love the scent of lemon, but find that store-bought lemon liquid soap is a little too harsh, this is the DIY hand soap recipe for you!

I’ve tried store-bought liquid lemon soaps, and they’ve always given me dry skin. This does the absolute opposite of that. 

The Ingredients In My DIY Hand Soap

Let’s take a look at the ingredients in this wonderful Sherbet Lemon Hand Soap.

how to make hand soap


Washing your hands can be very drying so the glycerin will attract moisture to your skin and therefore stops your skin from drying out by creating a barrier. Glycerin is used a lot to treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. 

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is used to add texture and as a thickening agent within the soap. It also has some hydrating benefits for the skin so works well in this hand soap recipe. 


I have used a combination of distilled water and peppermint hydrosol for this recipe. The hydrosol smells a lot like fresh peppermint leaves which blends nicely with the essential oils we have chosen. 

Peppermint hydrosol will leave you feeling invigorated with its uplifting properties.It is also great for revitalising the skin so works wonderfully in this hand soap. 


The surfactants in this recipe are what will give the soap the ability to clean your hands and also to foam up. 

There are many different surfactants to choose from but I have decided to use natural and mild ones, Coco glucoside and Decyl glucoside. 

See our surfactants page if you would like to swap these for something else.

Coco glucoside

Coco glucoside is a natural surfactant that comes from coconuts and sugar. It will give the soap good foaming ability and combines well with Decyl glucoside and other natural surfactants.

Decyl glucoside

Decyl glucoside is similar to coco glucoside and it is also a natural surfactant. It is gentle on the skin making it a good option for hand soap.


The preservative in this recipe is what will keep your lovely hand soap from going rancid. Bacteria love this kind of product, as it’s the perfect breeding ground for a whole host of nasty microbes. 

I have chosen to use plantaserv P but there are many others to choose from, see our preservative page to find out more.

Essential Oils


lemon essential oil helps to kill bacteria making it the perfect oil choice for a hand soap. It also contains antioxidants and vitamin C which can help to remove dead skin cells. As well as this, the scent is refreshing and will help to boost your mood.


Peppermint essential oil is naturally cleansing so it is perfect for a DIY hand soap recipe.  IT also has antiseptic and antibacterial properties which is another reason why we chose this oil. 

The peppermint also makes this soap an ideal choice for those of you that suffer with dry skin as It is cooling and soothing. 

May Chang

May Chang essential oil is both nourishing and refreshing for your skin. Similar to peppermint oil, it is also a natural cleanser, making it ideal for a soap recipe. 

Food Coloring

I chose to use yellow food coloring in this recipe to signify the lemon essential oil that I used. 

However, the color can be swapped for any food coloring of your choice, or none at all if you prefer. It is important to remember that you will not need much food coloring at all, a little goes a long way. 

I always add one or two drops at a time and stir to check the color before adding any more. 

liquid hand soap with lemon

How To Make DIY Hand Soap – Sherbet Lemon Recipe

This is a homemade hand soap recipe that not only cleanses and moisturizes your hands but also smells amazing.
5 from 5 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 250 mls
Author: Angela Wills

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  • Pour the glycerine into a beaker, add the xanthan gum and mix well. 
    20 g Glycerine, 2.5 g Xanthan Gum
    Glycerine being added to a beaker
  • Place the coco glucoside and decyl glucoside into a separate beaker, then add your essential oils. Stir slowly to avoid foaming. If using an oil soluble preservative, add it now as well. Water soluble preservatives we'll add later.
    20 g Coco Glucoside, 17.5 g Decyl Glucoside, 1.25 g Lemon Essential Oil, .75 g Peppermint Essential Oil, .5 g May Chang Essential Oil
    Surfactant being added to a beaker
  • Combine the two mixtures and stir carefully so as not to foam up the surfactants. I find it easiest to pour the surfactants into the glycerine/xanthan gum.
    The two mixtures are combined
  • Slowly add the distilled water and peppermint hydrosol to the mixture a bit at a time whilst gently stirring. Continue to stir carefully until thickened.
    100 g Distilled Water, 85 g Peppermint Hydrosol
    Hydrosol and distilled water added to the mixture
  • Once it has thickened, add the preservative, if water soluble, and stir slowly.
    2.5 g Preservative
    Preservative added to the hand soap
  • Add a few drops of food coloring and stir gently until you get your desired color. This step is optional.
    5 Drops Food Coloring
    Food coloring added to the hand soap
  • Pour your DIY hand soap into a bottle using a funnel if needed.
    1 Pump Bottle
    Hand soap poured into a bottle

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a simple DIY hand soap that’s easy to make, this is the recipe for you. I had a lot of fun making this, It really brings me back to my childhood of hard candy sherbet lemons! 

But it does more than just smell good. Your skin will feel amazing after using this, even with the surfactants. 

There’s no need to be afraid of using surfactants these days. I know a lot of people steer clear of them. And that’s fine. But natural surfactants do exist! 

If you liked this liquid hand soap recipe, check out some of my other DIY liquid soaps. I show you how to customize your liquid soap base in 5 different ways, and also how to make liquid soap the good ol’ fashioned way, with lye instead of surfactants

Also, consider signing up to our newsletter. It’s the best way to hear about our latest recipes, ebooks, and even some exclusive offers. Otherwise, you can find us on social media. We’re active on Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Twitter

Author: Angela Wills

Title: Founder and Author - Savvy Homemade

Expertise: Beauty Recipes, Skincare Formulation, Soapmaking, DIY Crafts, Parenting

Angela Wills is an author, founder, and the driving force behind Savvy Homemade. With over fifteen years of experience, she brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to every post she writes. She is fearlessly dedicated to creating tried and tested beauty recipes, skincare formulations, soap recipes, and many other DIY crafts that will work for everyone. Angela has a Diploma in Skincare Formulation, is a proud member of the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, and infuses each DIY product with her passion and expertise.

Discussion (8 Comments)

  1. Are these surfactants considered satisfactorily effective in cleansing when hands are soiled? I’m thinking in the case of raw meat, feces, etc? I really like this formula and cannot use certain other surfactants like cocamidopropyl betaine, but I’m not sure if these surfactants are considered effective enough for hand washing. I haven’t been able to find much research to demonstrate the efficacy of these surfactants, and I would appreciate any information you can share. Thanks!

    • Hi Molly,

      Honestly, clean hands is about good technique than it is anything else. These surfactants are strong enough to destroy the membranes of bacteria, viruses and molds. It’s more about taking enough time to cleanse and thoroughly working the soap across all of the skin of the hands.

      The advice we were given during the Covid-19 Pandemic is apt. Any kind of soap will kill microbes. Washing your hands for the time it takes you to sing happy birthday twice is not just relevant for coronavirus but for all bacteria, viruses and molds too.

  2. Is it possible to make this without Xanthan gum? Is that ingredient really necessary or is there a substitute?? I’d like to make a nice sooth, creamy, totally foaming hand soap without the gum. I have the other ingredients.

    • You could for sure use a different gum, something like tara gum, guar gum or carrageenan if you prefer. While you can omit the gum completely, you’ll find that it’ll be a bit difficult to thicken and be very runny.

      The reason we use a gum here is because one of these surfactants, the decyl glucoside, is extremely difficult to thicken any other way. Sometimes we can add salt to surfactants to thicken them, but in this case that method doesn’t work – hence the addition of the cosmetic gum. There are other agents that will work, but they are all proprietary and synthetic.

      However, if you do decide to omit the gum, consider using in a foaming pump bottle instead of a ordinary pump or squeezy bottle. You see them being used for foaming cleansers. This way, you won’t have to worry about it being a little on the runny side, and you get to keep your natural formulation too!

  3. Hi there. Will the Lemon Sherbet hand soap recipe work the same if I double or triple the ingredients?
    Thank you.
    Jill S

    • Hi Jill,

      Absolutely! Although, if you haven’t made this hand soap before I would recommend making just a single batch to start off with. Make sure you like the smell and how it feels on the skin. Then, feel free upscale as you wish. My recipe cards will do a lot of that work for you. Simply press the x2 or x3 button below the ‘Ingredients’ title, before you reach the actual list. Hope this helps and happy soaping!

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