How many times do you wash your hands a day? For me, it feels like a million! Our skin gets dried out enough during the winter from the cold air, add to that constant washing because of all the germs, and you’ve got dry cracking skin!
I’ve noticed this winter has been worse than usual. My kids have sensitive skin, and this extra dry air and constant hand washing has been awful. Dry itchy eczema like patches on their hands and wrists. It felt like a constant battle to moisturize their hands, and keep them comfortable! It’s never been this bad before, even for their sensitive skin. I started to wonder if changing the soap I had in all the bathrooms would help. Even my own hands have been dry and cracked, I was starting to dread washing my hands knowing how much drier they’d be afterwards!
I am a tree hugger at heart, but as life has gotten busier with each additional kid, we’ve wandered towards convenience in some aspects of our life (we use disposable diapers, instead of cloth now). I still use white vinegar for most of my cleaning, and love a good homemade soap scum remover, so the concept of making my own soap isn’t too out there for me. And once I looked into it, I saw just how easy it was!
First stop was amazon for all my supplies! I spent $50 ordering 3 foaming soap pumps and 1 bottle of Dr Bronner’s Mild Castile Soap. This is an upfront cost that won’t happen again. I loved the look of these ones, and at $9.99 each, they were a still a great deal for a nicer looking pump. I’m sure you could find cheaper ones online, or at the dollar store, but I just wanted to place one online order for everything. The Castile soap I was ordering was only a small bottle; $15 for 16oz. The bigger the bottle, the cheaper it is, but since my kids skin are so sensitive, I didn’t want to buy a huge bottle, only to have them react to it. My next bottle will be bigger, which will save us more money, and I’ll search around online to find a better price.
I should say, that before this little project, I had been buying Soft Soap brand soap from Costco, and just refilling old pumps that we had. We had been using this soap for years! Our hands were always dry in the winter, and I just chalked that up to living in Ontario and dealing with the harsh conditions. But maybe, all this time, it was the soap adding to the irritation!
Once you have all your supplies, the actual soap making process is very simple. I searched around online to find some examples of different ratios. I even found one blog that said they contacted Dr Bronner’s who recommenced a 1:4 ratio of soap to water. I found some recipes that made it stronger, and lots that added essential oils. But for this time I kept it simple and stuck with what the company suggested.
Step 1: Boil some water. I filled my kettle and boiled it and let it cool for a half hour or so before I started making any soap. Boiling the water before hand, or even using distilled water, can help keep your soap from spoiling.
Step 2: Wash the soap pumps! They are likely dusty and a little grimy from the store of warehouse they have been sitting in, so give them a quick wash, inside and out.
Step 3: Measure out your ingredients. You can make one big batch and mix it all together, or mix them individually like I did. I used 1/4 cup Castile soap to 1 cup of previously boiled water.
Step 4: Pour the water into the pump, add the soap, and close it up. Give it a swish around to mix it if you didn’t mix it in a separate container first, and you are done!
You might notice in the picture that I’m just squirting the soap right into the container without measuring. That’s because I measured how much liquid would fit into the bottle, and subtracted the 1 part soap from the total volume. I filled the bottles with water and just poured the soap in to top them up, this seemed easier to me, only having to measure the water once.
Now for some Do’s and Don’ts that I have learned in all my research and trial and error:
- Add the soap to the water. If you pour the water into the soap you are going to create a lot of bubbles, which will over flow from your pump!
- If you add essential oils, add them to the soap first. Oils don’t mix with water, but they will mix with the soap!
- Do use Castile soap for lots of other things! Search around online, there are tons of ways to use it, not just as hand soap!
- Do your research! Find out the right ratios for each specific job. Don’t just go crazy squirting it on everything. A great site to start on is the Dr.Bronner’s site itself.
- Do remind your kids that they don’t need to add water to the soap while washing their hands. My kids stuck their hands under the running water right away, like you would with liquid soap to make it foamy, which just washed the soap down the drain. There is a little bit of a learning curve for little ones when switching between liquid soap and foaming soap!
- Don’t go crazy using it for everything if you have hard water. Castile soap can break down in hard water, which can leave a white film. Using it with hard water in hand soap is fine, but using it as a cleaner, you might find a film on your surfaces, especially shiny ones like sinks and faucets!
- Don’t mix it with vinegar. I love vinegar as a cleaner, but don’t combine it in a bottle with castile soap. Vinegar will react with it and turn it back into solidified oil, which is that white film is you might start seeing.
- Don’t make a big batch ahead of time, or fill your soap pumps up if you won’t use it up within a month. Mixing any cleaner with water leaves room for spoilage (which is why I boiled my water first, to try to prevent this). We go through so much hand soap, I don’t seeing this being an issue for us. If you are worried about it though, only fill your pumps half way.
Do you use Dr Bronner’s for anything? I’d love to hear your success stories, or even mistakes you’ve made when using it! So far I am loving it! My hands feel clean, and fresh, not dry at all, which is incredible considering how they were just 24 hours ago.I’m not sure what else I will use it for, but for now, we are all loving our new soap!