DIY: Foaming Dish/Hand Soap

DIY: Foaming Dish/Hand Soap

On a sailboat, where the closest store may be a long distance away, you learn to stretch your supplies.  This DIY life hack is great for both on land and sea, but especially helpful for offshore sail cruising.  An added bonus is this DIY will save you money, too.


Large container of Dawn* Dish washing Soap (90 oz to 1 gal.), existing empty foaming soap dispenser (Dial and Dawn both sell foaming soap, buy one and then refill), water.

* Substitute your favorite brand, but I like Dawn for its de-greasing properties.


Squirt enough dish washing liquid into the bottom of the container to cover the bottom approx 1/4″.  Add water to fill, leaving room for the screw on foam plunger.

I found my large Dawn container at Costco, but that was about 2 years ago.  Yes, one bottle has lasted 2 years at home.  It was the original Dawn, but have also used Dawn Ultra.  This DIY is very easy, but read on if your attempt has issues.

Problem 1: Adding too much Dawn.  If you add too much Dawn solution, it will not foam up and will spurt at you.  To solve, just add more water to your container, thereby diluting the mixture.

Problem 2: Adding too little Dawn.  If you have a very weak foaming action, just add more Dawn to the container.   Easily solved.

51ixegozlhL._SL1000_On a boat, we use Dawn for dishes, cleaning hands, de-greasing bilges, washing the topside, and mixed with water and vinegar for cleaning the interior of the boat.  At home, I have a container next to every sink in my house.

Where to Buy Foaming Dispensers– I usually just buy a plastic one at the store (like shown in the top photo), peel off the label and then refill.  If you want a more designer look for your home or boat, I found this one at



My friend, Denise, loves the foaming pump by Cuisipro, (found on Amazon) which comes in fun colors.  This green one would look good on Mahi!   Dawn makes a green color soap, too.

Bath & Body Works

Doreen also mentioned that Bath & Body Works sells a solid working foam dispenser at their stores and website, too.

Would love to hear if you have tried this.

6 thoughts on “DIY: Foaming Dish/Hand Soap”

  • Hubby knows no moderation when he uses… anything! So yes, I love the foaming dispensers. I have two Cuisipros in the kitchen, and one similar to yours in one of the bathrooms (also obtained from Amazon). Steve has a kooky mermaid soap dispenser in his bathroom (non-foaming) that he is unwilling to give up for a more practical but non-kooky dispenser.

  • This is a great idea that I discovered not that long ago. Dawn is the best for this (IMHO) and I, too, learned that too much Dawn in the solution will not pump…LOL! I have saved the pumpers from “Bath and Body Works”…..they seem quite sturdy!! I think of all the $$$$ I have spent over the years on this stuff, knowing in the back of my mind that there’s way too much water that I’m paying for! However, the pumper is the “key” ingredient!!!

    • My daughter showed me this trick a few years ago. Noticed on my trip home that my big Costco bottle of Dawn was getting low. Thanks for the tip about the Bath & Body Works pump, too!

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