Are you aware that over-cleansing and over-sanitizing can take a serious toll on your skin—particularly your hands? I wash my hands a lot during the day, and I feel like it zaps the moisture from my skin. It's incredibly easy (and inexpensive) to make your own antimicrobial foaming hand soap that will do a great job at keeping you germ-free without destroying your protective skin barrier.
Since this homemade soap doesn't contain any of the harsh surfactants that strip your skin of moisture, it actually nourishes the skin and helps prevent the splitting and cracking that can ironically increase your chances of getting an infection. And adding coconut oil helps moisturize my hands every time I wash them.
Read on to learn how to make your own antimicrobial foaming hand soap with coconut oil!
How to Make Naturally Antimicrobial Foaming Hand Soap
According to the CDC, soap is more effective at removing certain types of germs than alcohol-based hand sanitizers [source]. You see, soap has two layers—one that’s attracted to water and one that’s attracted to fat. Meanwhile, viruses have an outer layer of protein and fat surrounding them. When viruses come in contact with soap, their fat coating gets ripped off, destroying them in the process [source].
And it doesn’t matter what kind of soap you use. As long as it has suds, both homemade and store-bought soap works against viruses without the need to add any additional antimicrobial agents such as alcohol.
While some nasty ingredients such as triclosan have been banned from store-bought soap, that still doesn't mean that traditional antibacterial hand soap isn’t chock full of chemicals that can affect your health. To stay safe, I try to avoid all commercial antibacterial soap if I can help it.
Instead, I reach for natural Castile soap. I love making my own bath and body products, so I use Castile soap for practically everything! Combining it with coconut oil and a blend of germ-fighting essential oils means I can have soft, clean hands all winter long. Plus, it foams up just like those store-bought hand soaps that are usually chock full of chemicals.
Aside from the Castile soap, the ingredients I use are pretty interchangeable.
Fractionated coconut oil keeps my hands soft and locks in moisture. But unlike regular coconut oil, it doesn’t solidify in cooler weather, so it never causes issues with my soap. You can substitute jojoba, rosehip, sweet almond, or any other carrier oil that stays liquid at room temperature.
Essential oils add an extra layer of antimicrobial protection without drying out hands. You can use whichever oils you like and have at home—they don’t necessarily need to be known as antibacterial (the soap does most of the heavy lifting in this recipe). But since I don’t always wash my hands as thoroughly as I should, I love the peace of mind essential oils bring.
And water simply dilutes your foaming hand soap, so it makes plenty of suds, and you get more bang for your buck.
Benefits of essential oils:
Peppermint - antiviral [source], antibacterial, and antifungal effects
Eucalyptus - natural germicide [source], may also help treat skin infections
Clove - antimicrobial [source]
Tea tree - naturally antimicrobial and antiseptic [source]
Cinnamon Leaf - antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic [source]
Note: If you have sensitive skin, use less essential oils as some of them can be irritating. The coconut oil acts as a carrier to dilute the essential oils, but use caution as some oils can sensitize the skin over time.
Coconut Hand Soap FAQs
Can I use regular virgin coconut oil instead of fractionated coconut oil?
In this case, no, not really. Regular coconut oil tends to harden at room temperature, which can result in clumpy soap and clog the nozzle of your bottle. Fractionated coconut oil stays liquid at all temperatures, so you never have to worry about clumping.
Can jojoba oil be used in place of the coconut oil?
Yes! While coconut oil does have some antibacterial properties of its own [source], the soap is the main germ-fighter in this recipe. So you can feel free to swap any liquid carrier oil you like in place of the coconut oil.
Where can I find new glass or plastic foaming soap dispensers?
Honestly, I just saved a few plastic foaming soap dispensers and repurposed them. But you can find a bunch of different options online, such as these glass dispensers and these plastic ones.
Is it okay to store your soap in plastic since it contains essential oils?
You should never store undiluted essential oils in plastic as they are strong enough to break down the plastic and affect the quality of the oil. But the essential oils in this recipe are so diluted that you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Naturally Antimicrobial Coconut Oil Hand Soap
- 16-ounce foaming soap dispenser
- 3 tablespoons castile soap
- 2 teaspoons fractionated coconut oil
- 15 drops clove essential oil
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 5 drops each cinnamon, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils
- Water to fill
- Combine the ingredients in an empty soap dispenser, then slowly fill the dispenser the rest of the way with water.
- Screw on the pump and shake well to combine.
This post was medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Haley, a board-certified dermatologist with extensive experience in medical, cosmetic, and surgical dermatology. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.342
Leigh Ann says
I doubled this recipe and kept half in a glass mason jar. It solidified like crisco. Now what?
Is there a expiration date for this Antibacterial Coconut Oil Hand Soap once it has been made?
Stephanie Gerber says
There's no hard & fast rule here, but since it contains water, it won't last forever. However I've used one batch for months and it has been fine. To be super cautious, you could replace the soap every month. You'll get a longer shelf life if you use distilled water.
Stephanie Gerber says
I would try to use it up within 3 months or so
Ann Gloria says
This post is great! I was made and currently using a chamomile foaming soap but am excited to try this one, after finish my last soap. Thanks so much :)
can i use virgin coconut oil instead of fractionated?
Danette Garbi says
do you need to use castile soap in this?
Joy Kelly says
Can fractured coconut oil be used to make laundry smell good?
Suzan Vasica says
Fractionated coconut oil has no scent so no
Can jojoba oil be used in place of the coconut oil?
I love making my own hand soaps. I typically just use castile and essential oils, so I'm looking forward to trying your recipe with the added FCO!
I can't find new unused plastic foam soap dispensers anywhere (recycle 2, 3 or 5)
or glass ones...help?
I heard essential oils should only be kept in glass to keep chemicals from plastic from seeping in and to preserve it's strength. Any advice?
Undiluted essential oils need to be stored in dark-glass bottles. Undiluted oils are highly concentrated and they will eat through plastic.
Most diluted essential oil blends….hand soaps, lotions, cleaning supplies, etc....are fine to be stored in plastic containers though. PET/PETE plastic (recycling code 1) is a popular choice for essential oil products because it’s safe, sturdy, and doesn’t seep chemicals into its contents.
You can find foam soap dispensers at most online stores that sell essential oils. Or you can do what I do and buy a 99 cent bottle of 8 oz foaming hand soap (PET plastic) from Walmart and just dump out the soap and clean it. :) It’s a lot cheaper than any of the foaming soap bottles I’ve found online.
you can find any type bottle you want here
A. Sanborn says
Thank-you for sharing this post. I noted you don't share links to the items not readily available if one lives in rural areas. I can't find all of these items in 'BOX STORES' or even our health food store pending cost effects.
I found all those things on Amazon.
Just what I needed. Thanks!