How to Make Your Own Super Practical Cleaning Soap

Inside: A very simple 100% coconut oil soap recipe that produces a hard, strong bar of soap for cleaning or laundry. Not for skin!

Of all the frugal home projects you do, your friends might find this one the weirdest. But that’s okay.

You’ll be saving money on random stain removers, spot cleaners, and other miscellaneous cleaning supplies and exchanging them for this simple soap bar that costs pennies per bar.

Here’s how to make it!

Homemade Cleaning Soap

A coconut oil soap designed specifically for cleaning.  Perfect for spot removal on upholstery, laundry stains, and use as all purpose cleaner.
Prep Time 30 minutes
cure time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 30 ounces coconut oil
  • 11 ounces water
  • 5.52 ounces lye
  • color and fragrance optional

Instructions 

  • Measure ingredients. Measure out the lye, coconut oil, and water in separate containers using a digital scale. 
  • Make lye water. Add the lye to the water, taking care to avoid breathing in any fumes.  (NEVER add the water to the lye.)   Stir with a butter knife to make sure all the lye dissolves.  The solution will get very hot.  Carefully set it aside to cool in a safe place.
    pyrex cup of water with lye granules being added.
  • Melt coconut oil. Place the coconut oil into a pot and melt over medium-low heat on the stovetop.  The oils must be completely melted and 130-140 degrees before proceeding.  Once it has reached the temperature, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool in a safe place.
    stainless steel pot with olive oil and shea butter
  • Check temperatures. Check the temperature of your oil and lye after an hour or two.  You can use a thermometer or feel the side of the containers with your hand.  They should be comfortably warm, but not at all hot.
  • Stick blend to trace. Pour the lye solution into the melted oil pot and blend using a stick blender.  The soap solution is very caustic at this point and can cause burns.  Make sure you are wearing gloves and goggles.   Have everything ready before you start.  Blend until your soap reaches trace. This means that when you drag your blender through the solution, it leaves a trace.  If you lift up your stick and soap batter comes off of it, it will not immediately flow back in like a liquid, but will sit on top for just a second, like a thin batter.
    lye water being poured into oils, stick blender mixing the solution
  • Pour into molds. As soon as trace is reached, immediately pour the batter into the molds.  If you take too long, soap will start forming and hardening right in the pot. Put your mold out of the way somewhere to let the soap saponify (turn into soap).  It will need to sit about 12-24 hours
  • Cure. After the waiting period, turn the soap bars out and store them in a ventilated spot such as an old tea towel on top of a dresser.  Allow to cure two weeks before using.

Video

https://youtu.be/Y0Ei6ty_oEU

Notes

Remember that this soap is not safe for skin.  It is much too drying.
Can be used to rub onto stains, clean spots on the carpet, or rubbed onto a damp cloth for cleaning counters, appliances, or anything else.  If you like homemade  laundry detergent, you can shred for that as well! 
New soapmakers, you need to be careful when working with lye.  Read this first.  
8 bars of off white soap

What makes this different from regular soap?

Homemade cleaning soap is one of the most useful products you can have to save money on cleaning supplies. Although it is way too harsh to use on your skin, is perfect for household chores

This is the easiest soap recipe you can make.  It is designed for making laundry and cleaning products.  it only contains coconut oil, water, and lye.  

If you are new to soap making, you need to know that all soap is a combination of oils, water, and lye.  A chemical reaction occurs, and soap is produced.  At first it is a batter, then you pour into molds where it sits overnight and becomes a bar of soap.

The oils you choose affect the outcome of your soap.  Some are extra cleansing, some are moisturizing, etc. This recipe uses only coconut oil, the most drying and cleansing oil of all.  It is calculated to have NO superfat so that it doesn’t leave any type of residue.  (The things that make it terrible for your skin make it perfect for cleaning!)

This recipe contains no color and no fragrance.  When I mix it up into household cleaners I add fragrance at that point if I want it.  But you could certainly add fragrance and color to the soap batter.  

 

Tools and ingredients you’ll need:

Step by step

We begin, like with all soap recipes, by mixing up the lye and water. This will create fumes, so do this outside or near an open window. They will shoot up in temperature. Set it aside to cool in a safe place.

Next, melt the coconut oil over low heat on the stovetop. When it’s melted, it will look like any other cooking oil.

melted oil for soap in pot

Everything needs to cool now for a few hours until they are about 110 degrees.

Get everything ready to go before you blend. You’ll need your mold out, and any color or fragrance if you’re using them.

Put on your safety gear (goggles and gloves), and blend the soap. It will come to trace very quickly, since it is all solid oils.

soap batter in pot

Immediately pour the soap batter into bar molds.

soap batter being poured into mold

Let it sit for about 24 hours, then unmold.

It doesn’t need much cure time, since it is such a hard bar and you aren’t using it on your skin. Store in a dry, cool place.

This is a versatile and easy recipe! As you get more comfortable with soap making, try a shower soap or hand soap too!

Ideas for using your cleaning soap:

  • Spot cleaning upholstery or bedding. You can get the bar wet or spray the fabric with water. Then rub the bar onto the stain and follow with a wet rag. If just a small stain gets on a quilt or bedspread I will often do this rather than washing the whole thing.
  • Use it as a dish soap. Simply keep a bar with a wooden scrub brush and dish rag by your sink, get soap on you brush or rag, and clean your dishes.
  • Rub the bar directly on any laundry stains before you put them in the washer. A little water and some scrubbing with this soap will effectively pretreat stains very well. It is especially good for greasy or ground in stains that resist stain sprays, like ring around the collar or kid’s dirty sleeves around their wrists. I keep a bar in each bathroom so that whenever someone gets undressed I can spot treat their clothes.
  • Make soap flakes with a box grater or the shredding disk of your food processor. Mix in a mason jar 2 parts soap flakes to one part borax. You can add a few drops of fragrance oil or essential oil if you like. This makes a nice scrubbing cleanser for the bathroom toilet, shower, or tub. You will need to rinse well after using it, so don’t try this on your mirror or floor.
  • When you travel, take a bar with you to hand-wash small clothing items in the sink.
  • (I don’t like homemade laundry detergent. I just don’t think it cleans well, regardless of the recipe. But if you like it, this bar works as well as any other, such as Zote or Fels-Naptha. I’ve tried them all.)
cleaning soap in white and blue tea towel lined basket

Print the recipe:

Want to see more soap recipes?

You can browse all my soap and lotion recipes here.

How to Make Your Own Super Practical Cleaning Soap

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Recipe Rating




21 Comments

  1. Hi Katie,
    I have been making your soaps and love them and how easy you make them look with your videos. I made this cleaning soap and put it in a “loaf pan” mold. It was so hard that when I cut it, it broke and crumbled into small pieces. Did I do something wrong or should this soap be put in individual molds since it is such a hard soap?

  2. This looks fabulous! Thankyou for sharing! Have you ever made this and added clay to it? I currently am using a coconut oil cleaning clay that I purchase from a direct marketing company that has recently pulled out of the US market. Looking to make something similar. It’s amazing for cleaning my porcelain sinks and ceramic stove top. Love it

    1. 5 stars
      Wow, I just made the recipe, and didn’t see this until too late! I bought some bentonite clay. Would bentonite clay work in this recipe? I will add it next time, although this soap cleans so amazingly, I can’t imagine it could get better.

  3. Hello, I have not tried this recipe yet, I have a question first.

    I have tried dish soap and general cleaning recipes for bar soap in the past, and the issue I run into with my dishes is that it leaves a film.

    I have always dissolved some of the soap into the wash water, is that my mistake? Or do you think that perhaps the recipes I have tried were incorrectly balanced for household cleaning?

    Hoping to hear back soon. Thanks.

    1. Hi Kassandra, I have a few thoughts on this! I use this recipe every day and have never has a problem with a film or spotting: I use really hot water + a scrub brush. HOWEVER, a few people have said that they get a film on their dishes. (But many other people say that they don’t have this problem!) This recipe is 0% superfat, so really there shouldn’t be any type of residue. What I think is happening is that if there are certain additives in commercial soaps that help with hard water, and this soap doesn’t have them. I wish I could give you a guarantee that you won’t get a film, but I can’t. What I’d recommend is hand drying your dishes and see if that helps. If so, it’s probably a hard water issue. Hope this helps! 😊

      1. Thank you so much for answering!

        I lost your website, and I just now found it again. I hadn’t even remembered asking that question, but when I went down through the comments to see if anyone had asked about it, there was my question, and there was your answer! This time I have bookmarked your web page, so I don’t lose it again! It is so difficult to find a recipe for homemade soaps that is not superfatted!

        I will try your suggestion, and the other thing I’m going to try is adding some salt to my dish water to soften it a little bit. Another possible solution is to put a pot on the stove full of water, and add some vinegar to it. After I rinse my dishes dip them in the vinegar water and then set them to dry.

        I had extremely hard water in the house I grew up in, and the vinegar water dip after washing was something that we had to do to get the residue from our water off of the dishes.

        Since I have bookmarked your page, after I have a chance to try both I will get back to you and let you know how they worked

  4. I have made this soap in the past and really like it, is it possible to grate this soap and make into a liquid dish soap?

    1. yes! I have tried this before with a recipe where you boil water, grated soap, and you add borax. I can’t remember the exact process but you may be able to find it online with a little digging!

  5. Hi Katie,
    Could this soap recipe just be cut into small squares and placed into the washer with each load?
    I’m thinking of using it via small squares for a one-make type of soap rather than shredding it.
    thanks Wendy

    1. Did you ever try it? I would worry that it is too foamy. I love the foam it makes, but foam makes your dishwasher leak. I’d love to be able to replace my commercial dishwashing soap with homemade. Let me know if you tried & if it worked.

  6. Could I use this as a melt and pour base? Later adding more fats to make it skin friendly? Thank you

    1. the issue its that is vERY heavy on lye. it would be too stripping to the skin. if you want a skin friendly basic soap you’ll want to add another oil or two (like olive oil, palm. oil, etc.), and the. superheat needs to be 5%- 8%. if you only have coconut oil, you could try this recipe. (I’ve never tried it myself but it has good reviews): https://mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-pure-coconut-oil-soap-for-cleansing-and-laundry/. (at the top she has calculated it for skin)

  7. Have you ever considered selling this soap? For those who don’t want to DIY, but still want something more sustainable. I’d buy some. 🙂 Or do you know of anywhere that sells a similar soap? Thank you.

    1. Hi Sarah, I just don’t have the energy for selling it right now. Etsy has a lot of homemade soap sellers, though! You could try contacting one that does custom orders (most smaller ones do) and saying you are interested in one that’s pure coconut oil with zero percent superfat.