Thrifty, Earth-friendly Hand Soap!

I’m a longtime fan of Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap, the amazingly versatile, yummy-smelling, totally natural stuff in the bottles covered with interesting philosophies in tiny white letters, now made with organic and fair-trade ingredients in a 100% recycled plastic bottle!  It’s great stuff, but it seems expensive.

The thing is, you’re supposed to dilute it.  When you’re showering, it’s easy to shake a few drops from the bottle onto your very wet hands, rub them together to produce delicious lather, and spread it over your very wet body parts to wash, say, your neck, arms, and armpits all with a few drops!  At that rate, the $8 pint bottle gives you many months of showers.  But when you’re just washing your hands, it’s easy to get too much of this concentrated soap and waste it.

You want to mix about 1 part soap to 5 parts water to make a cleansing yet non-wasteful hand soap.  Do that in a standard soap pump bottle, and you’ll get a runny mixture that dribbles all over the sink rim.  Instead of wasting the soap by using more than you need on your hands, now you’re wasting it by making a slimy mess that you’ll have to wipe up!

Luckily, my mom taught me an easy solution to this dilemma: Put the diluted soap in a small trigger spray bottle, the kind sold in drugstores for misting water onto your hair.  Not only does this dispense just the right amount in two or three spritzes, but it mixes a little air into it to start the lathering process.

If you have a small child who can’t work a trigger sprayer, Dr. Bronner’s also works in a soap foamer.  These are more prone to clogging than trigger sprayers, but I recently read that the secret is to use hot water when filling the foamer, put the water in before the soap, and shake well (with your hand over the top of the bottle) before inserting the stem.  I haven’t yet bought a new foamer to try this.  For my son’s sake, we also have a pump bottle of more gel-like soap at each sink.  Our favorite (for price, pleasant scent, and natural ingredients though not up to the Dr. Bronner’s standard) is Trader Joe’s Next to Godliness lavender soap.

[UPDATE: We got a soap foamer in early 2011.  It’s easier to use than the trigger sprayer.  Another bonus is that guests easily recognize it as hand soap.]

Diluted Dr. Bronner’s soap in a trigger spray bottle works for me!  The only remaining question is how to label the bottle so that guests will recognize it as hand soap, with a label that doesn’t come off or look shabby after just a few weeks….

RELATED ARTICLE: It beautifies your complexion AND scrubs your tub!

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About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

One Response to Thrifty, Earth-friendly Hand Soap!

  1. Love Dr. Bronner’s soap (not the philosophies) and I have recently converted my husband over to it. My problem is that we pour a little soap into washrags in the shower. Correction – I use a little. He uses a lot. I might have to use your idea to dilute the big bottle so he won’t be getting as much soap. Thanks for the great idea for hand soap too! I like to use Method but it’s pricey!!

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