DIY Liquid Soap In Different 3 Ways – With Or Without Lye

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I’m obsessed with DIY liquid soap! Okay, let’s be real, I say I’m obsessed with everything I make. But I just can’t help it because I’m loving how this soap makes my skin feel!

Now, if you’ve made regular soap before, then this should be a pretty easy transition for you (especially if you’ve made hot process soap).

However, if you haven’t dipped your toes into the wonderful world of soap making, I’ve got you covered with 3 detailed tutorials on making liquid soap!

DIY liquid soap

Working with lye can be a little intimidating when you first start out. I know I was on edge when I made my first ever batch of soap. So, I thought to myself, is there a way of making liquid soap without using lye? Turns out you absolutely can!

So in this post today I’m taking you through the 3 different ways to make gorgeous, skin-loving liquid soap at home. No more will we subject our poor hands, hair, body, and faces to the harsh chemicals that dominate the soap section of our local drug stores!

The Three Ways To Make DIY Liquid Soap At Home

  1. First up I discuss the traditional method of how to make liquid soap with lye and a crockpot.
  2. Then, I’ll come on to a liquid soap making method that doesn’t need any lye at all. With a natural, skin-safe surfactant we can whip up a no lye liquid soap in less than 30 minutes. Do you think I’m joking, dear reader? I kid you not!
  3. Last, but not least, I cover the most time-saving and simple soap making method of all, adding your own ingredients to a premade soap base. If you’ve made melt and pour soap before, you’ll know what I’m talking about because it’s essentially the same process but with liquid soap. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing this and calling it homemade liquid soap!

So, enough with the introductions, let’s get on with it already.

when making liquid soap you will have no visible lumps left once it has dissolved

1. Classic Liquid Soap Recipe Using Lye & A Crockpot

I absolutely love the traditional liquid soap making process. While this method produces a soap that looks and feels a little different from many store-bought alternatives, it’s absolutely amazing for your skin.

I talk about how amazing homemade soap is for your skin all the time on this blog and beyond. It’s full of glycerine and nourishes your skin like no other soap will. Homemade liquid soap is basically the same thing, except we’ve gone about making it in a slightly different way.

If you’ve ever made hot process soap before, you will probably recognize a lot of the processes in this liquid soap recipe. You need a crockpot, and we need to ‘cook’ the soap for a little while before we can liquify it.

Using a stick blender, bring your batter up to trace

One of the other main differences between hot/cold process soap and liquid soap is the type of lye you’ll be using. While making traditional standard bars of soap calls for sodium hydroxide (NaOH), liquid soap needs potassium hydroxide (KOH).

Without getting into too much of the complicated science (my online soap calculator handles most of that for you), potassium hydroxide will produce a similar chemical reaction but the end product is a free-flowing liquid instead of a solid bar. If you try to use your sodium hydroxide, you’ll get a solid soap (which we really don’t want in this case).

The best part of making liquid soap with lye is that you can ‘part bake’ it. What do I mean by this? Well, when you cook your soap batter as you do in hot process soap methods, the end result is a sticky, semi-liquid paste.

You'll know when to move on once your batter becomes a thick, glossy, amber mixture

This paste is then diluted to make your lovely liquid soap. However, if you only want to make say a single bottle, you can take what you need and then store the rest of your paste in the fridge for months! That means if you make enough at once, you could potentially have lovely liquid soap all year round with minimal effort!

How to Make Liquid Soap With Lye

To make DIY liquid soap with lye you will need 8 things

  • Your Oils & Butters
  • Potassium Hydroxide
  • Distilled Water
  • Digital Scales (super important for this one)
  • Crockpot
  • Laser Thermometer
  • PET Plastic Bottles
  • PPE (to include at least safety goggles/glasses and gloves)

However, it is likely you’ll want to also make use of essential oils and liquid soap dye to add flair and character to your liquid soaps.

For the exact ins and outs of liquid soapmaking with lye, take a look at my guide on how to do exactly that! I’ll take you through the whole liquid soap making process in easy-to-understand steps. You’ll be surprised how simple it actually is!

Or, if you have young children try my liquid castile soap recipe which is mostly olive oil, with a little coconut. It’s gentle, nourishing, and great for mother and baby, or anyone with sensitive skin.    

2. Homemade Liquid Soap Using Surfactants

We’ve talked about how to make liquid soap the old fashion way, using oils and lye. But there has to be a quicker way to do it, right? Absolutely! I’ll be using my homemade shower gel to show you how this method works.

Super easy diy shower gel

The key ingredient in this liquid soap recipe is the surfactant. For the longest time, the only way to make soap was to use lye to bring about a chemical reaction within fatty oils. However, during the last century surfactants were discovered, which revolutionized how we look at cleansing.

As we just discussed, making liquid soap with lye can be time-consuming. This is a real problem, both for the soap making industry but also for the home soap maker. After all, time is money, now more than ever before.

But surfactants are bad for the skin, right? It really depends. Many surfactants are synthesized in labs, meaning they’re totally artificial. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, in the world of surfactants it kind of is. SLSA (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate), for instance, is an artificial surfactant that is found in many commercially produced liquid soaps and bubble baths.

SLSA produces a great foam, but it can also irritate your skin (especially those with sensitive skin). SLSA, along with many synthetic surfactants, also has a tendency to dry out the skin, making your products totally unsuitable for anyone with dry skin types.

Step 2: Weigh out the coco glucoside and add the essential oils, stir slowly to prevent foaming

So, with a bit of research, you can find surfactants that are produced naturally and won’t bring about irritation. A good example of this is Coco-Glucoside, which is made from coconuts and cornstarch. When we think critically about our ingredients and make good choices, we absolutely can make high quality, natural products that contain surfactants that don’t cause irritation or are drying for the skin.

How To Use Surfactants To Make Liquid Soap

To make liquid soap with surfactants, you will need 7 things;

  • Distilled water
  • Humectant (Glycerine)
  • Cosmetic Gum (Xanthan gum)
  • Surfactant (Coco-Glucoside)
  • Preservative
  • PH Testing strips
  • A bottle to store

However, you may wish to use certain optional ingredients, such as essential oils and liquid soap dye. While there are a whole list of different optional ingredients you can to bolster the power of your liquid soap, these are the most basic. I encourage you to do some research to discover these.

Now, once you have gathered your ingredients, you can begin making your liquid soap. You’ll find it’s a much quicker method than the traditional method.

For an in-depth guide on exactly how to make a liquid soap using surfactants, take a look at my super easy liquid shower gel recipe. I use lovely pink grapefruit and bergamot essential oils, and honestly, it smells heavenly! Easily my favorite essential oil blend right now.

3. Simple DIY Liquid Soap Using Soap Base

So you want to make liquid soap, but making it from scratch is just too time-consuming or costly for you right now? I totally understand, and I have a solution for you. If you want a taste of making your own homemade liquid soap, but don’t want all of the trappings that come with actually making it, why not try customizing a premade liquid soap base?

step 4: add your soap dye

Now I know what you might be thinking, this sounds like cheating, right? Kind of, but honestly who cares? If you want to cut some corners, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Life in the 21st century can be stressful and non-stop. If you can make an amazing product that does everything you need it to do in less than a few minutes and save a boatload of cash at the same time, I think that’s definitely a win. Don’t you?

If you spend any amount of time in the skincare section of your local drug store, you’ll see that so many shower gels, body washes, shampoos, and bubble bath liquids have tons of different ingredients that can provide amazing benefits for your skin and hair. There’s nothing stopping you from picking up a cheap liquid soap base and throwing some of these great ingredients in yourself.

By doing this, you take control of your skincare in the easiest way possible. Everyone has unique skin with a unique set of needs. While we often share some of these needs, we perhaps don’t all have the same combinations of them. When you buy a product off the shelf, you’re buying something that is being marketed to a large group of people. I call this as marketing to ‘person x’. How can you ever really have control over our skin if you’re using a product designed for person x, instead of just you?

Ladies shaving cream Step 1

And when I say you can save money doing this, I really mean it. Let’s take essential oils, for example. Many of these bath and body products you can buy in-store list one or more in their ingredients list. Oils can be expensive, so when a manufacturer uses them in their products the price of that product goes up dramatically because they need to make a profit.

But get this, if you buy your own oils and add them to a soap base yourself, you eliminate this price gouging. Even the most expensive ingredients with the most powerful of skin benefits become more available to you.

You can find 5 great examples of how to customize liquid soap base here.

Making A Homemade Bubble Bath

I’ll quickly show you how this is done by making a simple bubble bath solution.

easy homemade bubble bath

Here’s a bubble bath recipe made using a simple liquid soap base, some colorants and fragrance oil. It makes a wonderful gift for anyone. It’s super easy to make and smells absolutely wonderful (in fact I can’t stop smelling the lime one and it’s even making my mouth water!)

What You Will Need

  • Clear liquid soap base
  • Soap colorants  (I’ve used red and green coloring at around about 2 drops per 4oz)
  • Fragrance oil (20 drops per 4oz)
  • Plastic bottles to store

How To Make It

Step 1: Choose a fragrance and color, then do a shot test to see if they are compatible.

Easy bubble bath Step 1

Step 2: Pour the liquid base into a clean glass or jug, and then stir in both the color and fragrance oil.

Easy bubble bath Step 2

Step 3: Cover the glass with double-thick plastic wrap or something similar to keep the scent contained, and set aside for 24 hours to allow all the bubbles to rise and disburse.

Easy bubble bath Step 3
Easy Bubble Bath 24 Hrs

Step 4: Pour the bubble bath into bottles and decorate with a gift tag or sticky label.

Easy bubble bath Step 4

Other things that I’ve made by customizing a ready-made soap base include the minty bubble bath, homemade shaving cream and my sea salt scrub recipe.

Final Thoughts

So there we are, all you need to know about making DIY liquid soap at home in three different ways. There’s something so satisfying about using soap you’ve made yourself. For years I’ve been making bars of soap, but still taking trips to the store to buy liquid soap for my kids and now grandkids. If you’re a soap maker with no experience of making liquid soap, you’re totally missing out!

It goes without saying that these can make some good gifts too. While I might not gift one on their own, they are wonderful as part of a gift basket with some solid soaps as well. It just completes the package.

I also just love how versatile DIY liquid soap is. A bar of soap is just a bar of soap, but a liquid soap can be so many different things; a body wash, shower gel, bubble bath, shampoo, or hand soap. So many possibilities for you to play around with! Like with many of the things you can make at home, experimentation can lead to so many exciting things. Your imagination is your only limitation!

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 (11 Comments)

  1. Hi Angela, thank you so much for these fantastic recipes.

    I’ve tried looking for my answer, so if it’s there and I missed it, I apologise… but how can we make the shower gel or handwash (the recipes without lye) more foamy? I followed your recipes to the dot.


    • Hi Bailey,

      I think this is because I’m trying to use mostly natural surfactants. While these all have good flash foam, they’re not quite as foamy as some of the more synthetic variants (e.g. sls).

      Have you tried storing these in a foaming pump bottle? It’ll take it to the next level with zero effort at all!

  2. Hi angela,

    Thank you very much for you lesson of bar soap, am tried and indid well on making bar soap.

    I would like to knoww which preservative is best for liquid soap, and how long/shelf life ?

    • Hi Shaban,

      I would be safe and just go for Geogard or any broad-spectrum preservative that has a high PH tolerance. Saligard would also be an excellent choice.

      Hope this helps

  3. salut je viens de recevoir mon mail de contact avec ce lien. j’ai juste un souci comment calculez vous la soude en repassant dans un calculateur je ne trouve pas la même quantité et je voulais adapter la quantité initiale fabrication. commencer par un petit batch. pour m’exercer. pouvez vous m’aider à ce propos??
    au plaisir de vous lire

  4. Hi Angela,
    Thanks so much for the very detailed, easy to follow recipes! I’ve made my first batch today and looks like it will be a great success.
    I can obviously use this as a base for any body or hand soap but what would you recommend if I wanted to make for dishwasher soap? Perhaps castor and sunflower oil?
    Any recommendation would be appreciated.


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