We also keep bar soap by the bathroom sinks, which is probably why the bottles lasted for three years’ worth of handwashing. The foamy stuff is undeniably easier to use than the bars, though.
It’s also easier to use than regular liquid soap. You get exactly what you need, vs. squirting out a surplus that either slides off and down the drain or that takes too long for an impatient child to wash off all the way.
Neither DF nor I are exactly children. (Chronologically, anyway.) But we’ve been watching his granddaughter about once a week and my two great-nephews also visit. Given that children are two-legged petri dishes when it comes to the latest viruses, I’d like to make it as easy as possible for them to wash their hands.
Since I’d remembered reading a recipe for foam-refill soap, I went prospecting online rather than pay full price. Even if it were a relatively small saving I thought I’d give it a try.
Good news: It was an easy frugal hack.
Better news: We already had what we needed on hand.
Best news: The saving was actually pretty decent.
The “recipe” is pretty basic: water and liquid soap. A quick trip to the basement superstore confirmed that we had a large and half-full bottle of Kroger brand soap (plus a large, full bottle of Softsoap). We will probably never have to buy this stuff ever again.
Here’s the laborious process of refilling one’s foaming soap dispenser:
Pour in a little water and add about a tablespoon of soap.
Stir slowly (to reduce foaming) until it looks mixed. (I used a chopstick but you could also use a straw.)
Slowly fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. Stir carefully.
Put the pump back into the bottle. Optional: Shake a couple of times to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed.
Technically the refill was free, i.e., I didn’t pay anything for it. Let’s hear it for sunk cost!
A quick glance at liquid soap prices at sites like Target, Walmart and Soap.com showed that 8- to 10-ounce bottles of foaming hand soap costs anywhere from $2.48 to $4.89 or more. Maybe a lot more; one two-pack of 7.5-ounce bottles cost $12.30, and I looked mostly at ordinary brands vs. the high-end stuff.
Note: Some of the pricier potions have frou-frou scents or moisturizers added, or tout their antibacterial properties. If you like lovely scents, I suppose you could add a drop of essential oil to the DIY refills; myself, I think that clean hands are more important than ones that smell like springtime gardens or deserts after the rain.
As for germ-killing benefits, Consumer Reports says that antibacterial soaps “don’t work better than regular soap, and may pose risks.” (Follow the link to learn about “5 reasons to skip antibacterial soaps.”)
I’m not sure how much the liquid soap I used cost, because it was purchased quite some time ago. The unopened bottle came up with me from Seattle and was definitely bought on sale with a coupon, probably in the oughties; my best recollection is that it was under $3.
Using current prices for jugs of plain old liquid soap, I calculated the per-ounce cost at 0.35 to 0.44 cents. Since one tablespoon equals half an ounce, it cost me less than half a cent to refill each 10-ounce bottle.
I’d much rather pay a penny apiece than $2.99 or more. Bonus: I don’t have to buy and pitch bottle after bottle, or buy and pitch multiple bottles of foaming soap “refills” – which I guess are just regular soap with a lot of water added.
Handwashing is “one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Do it regularly and do it right. But don’t pay more than you must for the ingredients.