Solution to Complimentary Soap Overflow …

Mr. Holstein and I love to travel. We might drive down to the Gulf Coast or over to Cass Railroad. If travel involves getting a hotel room, you can bet the open shampoo and soap bars are coming home with us. They may be complimentary, but I refuse to throw them out.

Over the course of a couple years I have accumulated more than a few of the miniature soaps. Many bars are the same brand, since we tend to stay at the same chain. Why they don’t make it out of the basket I toss them in is beyond me. I decided to take action when the basket reached capacity.

I keep a little liquid soap dispenser in the window above my kitchen sink. I used to squirt a little dish detergent on my hands to clean flour, butter, meat juice, or whatever else I might get on them while cooking. I changed to a moisturizing hand-soap when I developed eczema on my hands. The dispenser nearing empty provides the perfect opportunity for a little upcycle: liquid soap.

To make your liquid hand soap, you will need:

  • 8 ounces of bar soap
  • 2 tablespoons glycerin
  • 1 gallon water (distilled if possible)
  • Food grater
  • Large pot (I suggest one you don’t plan to cook food in any more.)
  • Blender

Grate eight ounces of bar soap as fine as possible. I used a traditional hand grater, use a food processor if you like. Add the soap to the water in the large pot. Stir while heating until the soap is dissolved. Add the glycerin, stir, and then let stand for about 24 hours. After the time is up, give the soap a little stir with the blender.

You can find pumps in the craft section of department stores or craft stores. I used a small coffee creamer container, glued the flap shut, drilled a hole to match the pump, and filled with the soap. You might choose to reuse a liquid soap container. There are ready-made liquid soap containers made from canning jars, or upcycle a small jelly jar.

One thing I learned was not all the soaps maintained their scent after dissolving. I found scents for soap making at craft stores.  Sometimes different soaps require different amounts of water. I do recommend using an old pot and blender when making your soap. It may not be a problem, but I don’t want to chance contaminating food with any soap residue.

For gifting I suggest using new, unopened soaps. I don’t mind using the hotel soaps because it’s just Mr. Holstein and me using them.

Don’t get discouraged, experiment.


Robin’s Upcycle is located in Kanawha County, WV. Open by appointment. Phone 304-460-5NEW (5639). For info, email or visit