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How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap (For Cleansing And Laundry)

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How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap:  The easiest soap you'll ever make - only three ingredients! (photo tutorial included)

Amazing Lather? Check!

Simple ingredients? Yep, only three.

When it comes to soap, this is probably the easiest recipe you’ll ever make. And if you’re willing to break a few rules it can one of the most versatile, too. Here’s what I mean:

Traditionally, soaps are made from 5-7 oils blended to balance cleansing/moisturizing/and lathering properties. One of the well known “rules” is that a soap should be made of more than 30% coconut oil because it’s so effective at breaking up oil/grease that it can be drying.

Fortunately, there’s a way to simplify things without skimping on the end product – it’s called “superfatting.” Basically, you add the equivalent of “one quarter moisturizing cream” like big brands do, only you leave out the toxic slew of chemicals that usually go with it. By adding 20% more coconut oil than the lye can convert to soap, you end up with a luxurious body bar. Of course, this doesn’t work with most vegetable oils which go rancid easily – coconut oil’s high shelf stability is what makes it a good choice here.

The best part? Not only can you superfat and get the best of both worlds for your skin, you can break another rule and get your laundry clean, too!

How To Adapt This Recipe To Make Laundry Soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent RecipeNormally it is not advised to make soap with under 4% superfat due to the fact that it can be excessively drying and even burn skin if some of the lye remains unconverted, but for laundry soap it’s perfect!

I’ve found that using a 1% superfatted recipe yields a very cleansing bar with no extra oil. Since I’m washing my clothes to get oil OUT rather than put it IN, this totally works for me. I’ve actually washed my hands with this version and have never had any irritation from it, but it’s really only recommended for laundry.

Here’s the full scoop on making your own laundry detergent using just the laundry soap recipe below and one other ingredient. It’s been a tried-and-true recipe in my house for years, and lots of people have written me to say they’ve had amazing results with it also. Here’s a comment Hillary left after making laundry detergent with the coconut oil soap below:

“I washed a couple loads of laundry today- and it worked so well! Our laundry is always SUPER dirty too! My husband does mechanical work for a logging company and his clothes get REALLY dirty after crawling in, on, and under those greasy machines! I think the detergent cleaned it better than our natural detergent we were buying from Costco! I was very impressed, thank you! : )”

Click here to get the laundry detergent recipe

Now, About The One Rule You Can’t Break

One of the most common questions I get about soapmaking is how to make it without lye. As I share in five myths that have kept you from making soap (but shouldn’t!), both are needed to cause a chemical reaction called saponification – aka making soap.

Or, as Marie of Humblebee & Me put it, making soap without lye “is like trying to make a baking soda and vinegar volcano without the vinegar. No vinegar and you’ve just got a pile of baking soda. No lye, and you’ve just got a bucket of fat.” (Curious about the other four myths. Click here to read the whole article.)

Technically, you can actually wash your face with oil using this method, but it’s a totally different approach.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, are you ready to get started?

Video Tutorial: Making Coconut Oil Shampoo Bars

Before I started making soap, I asked a friend if I could stop by and watch her make a batch. She agreed, and that afternoon in her kitchen was what helped me become comfortable with the process. In the video below, I invite you into my kitchen to do the same. I’ll walk you through the method, and then you can scroll down this post for the exact recipe and written instructions to check as you go.

Looking for the shampoo bar recipe I mention in the video? Click the link below to access it:

How to make coconut oil shampoo bars

How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap (For Cleansing And Laundry)

Coconut oil soap recipe - The easiest soap you'll ever make - only three ingredients! (photo tutorial included)


All amounts are per weight. You will need to use a digital scale for these measurements.

 Lathering Skin Bar (20% superfat)

Makes approximately 44 oz. of soap.

Note: Because this soap is highly superfatted it can create a very dense lather when rubbed directly on skin. For a light, bubbly effect I recommend lathering with a natural sponge like this one.

Laundry Soap (1% superfat)

Makes approximately 44 oz. of soap.

* For soap making purposes there are several types of coconut oil. The stuff I buy has a melting point of 76 degrees. This is the most commonly available kind and the preferred type for soap making. There is also a coconut oil that has a melting point of 92 degrees and another that is “fractionated,” meaning that the long chain triglycerides have been removed, leaving only saturated fats. I have not tested this recipe with either the 92 degree or fractionated oils, but it works well with the 76 degree type.

** You can often find 100% lye in the drain cleaner section of a mom n’ pop hardware store. Lye is a naturally occurring substance that can be made by burning hardwoods and boiling the ashes, but it’s much easier to just buy. If you don’t see it, ask a sales clerk for help. They may be keeping it behind the counter because it has multiple uses. Be prepared to explain that you want to make soap, not meth. :)


Note: According to Anne Watson, author of Smart Soapmaking, you can use your regular kitchen utensils as long as you follow these guidelines.

Photo Tutorial:

Step 1: Weigh your ingredients and set your crockpot to low

weighing coconut oil for soap

Step 2: Add water to a medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl and take it outside along with the lye and long-handled spoon. While wearing your protective gear and taking care not to breathe the vapors, slowly add the lye to the water while mixing gently. Order is important here, so make sure it is the lye you’re pouring into the water.

adding lye to water to make coconut oil soap

The mixture will get very hot so be careful! Let it transition from cloudy to clear, then bring it inside. Let cool for 5-10 minutes while you work on step 3.

Step 3: Place coconut oil in a saucepan and heat to 120-130F. Make sure that your thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pot when taking your reading. (You can skip this step if you want to add your oil directly to the crockpot and wait for it to melt, but I prefer not to wait.)

melting coconut oil for soap

Step 4: Place coconut oil in your crockpot and set to low.

hot process coconut oil soap

Step 5: Add lye to crockpot (being careful not to splash) and stir a few times.

adding lye to crockpot for hot process soap

Step 6: Using the stick blender begin mixing toward “trace.” You’ll know trace is achieved when the mixture has the texture and thickness of a light pudding.

mixing hot process soap to trace

Step 7: Cover and let cook on low. During this process the oils should rise up the sides like a wave and then fold back into the mixture. Mine usually takes 45 minutes – 1 hour but the cooking time will vary depending on how hot your crock pot is. Check on it often.

hot process soap

Step 8: When the soap is ready it should look a little like semi-translucent vaseline with no oil puddles in the middle. There are two ways to test and see if it’s done. First, dip a PH test strip and wait several minutes for it to fully change color. It should be between 7-10. If it is higher than 10 it’s not done. For a slightly less scientific approach, take a little of the soap and rub it between your fingers. It should feel a bit waxy. Now touch it to your tongue. If it ‘zaps’ you, it’s not done. Note: It is really important to make sure all the lye is converted – otherwise the finished soap can burn!

testing hot process soap

Step 9: If you’re adding essential oils, wait until the mixture cools a little and then add them, otherwise they will lose their fragrance. (I skipped this, so no photo!)

Step 10:  Spoon mixture into your mold and let cool. If you want to speed up this process put it in the fridge

placing coconut oil soap in molds

Step 11: Unlike other bars which need to harden for 24 hours before being cut, coconut oil makes a very hard bar that will be difficult to cut if you let it dry too long. Cut as soon as it’s cool and firm.

Step 12: In an area with good air flow, place bars on a rack/tray with about an inch of space between them. Allow them to dry out and harden for another few days. Though you can try your first bar right away, it’s best to let them sit for 2-3 weeks to let the conditioning properties fully develop.

homemade coconut oil soap

Shelf Life

About 1 year when stored in a cool, dry place.

DIY Organic Beauty Recipes4

Want more organic beauty tips and recipes?

Check out my latest e-book: DIY Organic Beauty Recipes

In this 180 page guide, you’ll learn how ridiculously easy it is to make your own shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tooth whitener, body balm, soap, baby products and more.

Disclaimer: Sodium Hydroxide is highly caustic and should be handled carefully and knowledgeably. It is the soap makers responsibility to research safety procedures for soap making.

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604 Responses to How To Make Pure Coconut Oil Soap (For Cleansing And Laundry)

  1. Susan says:

    Hi Heather, I wrote a couple of weeks ago about my first batch of soap I made using your coconut body bar hot processed soap. I mentioned that it had a “funky” smell after a while (like towels taken out of the dryer slightly wet and left to dry). Well, I figured it was the way I cooked it, as I didn’t do it right the first time (got confused about temps). Anyway, I rebatched it because I didn’t want to waste the product, I added a little coconut milk and milk so it wouldn’t burn and then added peppermint in case the sent didn’t go away. It turned out great. It still has a slight funky smell (cannot figure out what I did wrong), but it does not transfer to the skin when you use it to wash. Having said all of this, this is by far the best soap I have used so far. It has aged beautifully and is a beautiful snow white color. The lather is amazing and has just gotten better over time. I am going to make a new batch today, using your recipe, and see if the smell is in this one. Since you have never had this problem, it has to be something that I did. I have made a bunch of hot and cold processes soap since, and all of it has turned out fine. But, everyone LOVES your recipe. So, I will let you know how it turns out! Thanks for sharing it with everyone. Your deodorant recipe is the best and everyone in the family loves it. Never going back to store bought again. OK, just wanted to give you an update.

  2. Sandi says:

    I found Kirk’s original coco Castile
    Pure Botanical Coconut Oil Soap

    can I use this to make laundry detergent?

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I am looking for a great, natural degreasing soap for my fellow bike mechanics- bike grease and lube can be tricky to clean off. It sounds like this is a great degreaser for hands, not just laundry?? How would you rate this soap as a degreaser?


  4. tracey says:

    I accidently made the laundry soap recipe for the body soap. Can I still use this for my body ??

    • Heather says:

      It is likely to be drying to your skin, but if you don’t find that it is too harsh you can use it. I would let it sit for a week to let it mellow out a bit first.

  5. April says:

    Question: once the soap is ready to be placed in the form, is it ok to just skip the form part and add it directly to the other laundry detergent ingredients? If not what do you recommend as an alternative to grating the soap?

  6. Laura says:

    Can this be made without a crock pot?

  7. regina says:

    Hi, what lye calculator did you use to do this? I want to make a bigger batch, of all of these recipes, but the ones I’ve found: majestic mountain, and mms/the sage, don’t allow for a higher superfat % concentration, like yours. Thanks!

  8. Danielle says:

    Hey !!
    Made the shampoo bar and loving it . I used it for the first time yesterday and as you said my hair is waxy and kinda gummy feeling. Just wondering what do you personally use as a hair “oil” or serum after the shower and to use before using a flat iron or curling iron? Thanks so much !

  9. matt says:

    Hey Heather,
    I was wondering if you can add herbs, shea butter and vitamin E oil to your shampoo bar recipe without ruining it and if so, when would I add them and how much could I add? Thanks

  10. Cyndy says:

    Have you ever added both beeswax and essential oil to your soap bars?

  11. lili says:

    So I’ve bitten the bullet and made the soap for laundry – I’ve been so nervous about making soap that I’ve watched the video at least 15 times to make sure that I’ve got it all in my head – the only thing that i’m really worried about now (because I am ridiculous worry-wort) is the cleaning of all my instruments. I left everything to sit in vinegar for around 5 minutes and then washed it all twice with detergent – is that enough????? I’ve even sprayed my floor and counter with vinegar in case some lye escaped without my noticing. I don’t know if I’m over thinking or worrying – but as its my first time using lye i’d rather be safe than sorry – especially with 4 babies in the house (2 human, 2 furry). Would you be kind enough to just run through how much water to vinegar and how long to have it in this solution for, for the freaks like me out there!

  12. Homemade Intensive Moisturizing Lotion Recipe (Video Tutorial) | Diet Balance says:

    […] homemade beauty products – lotion bars, deodorant, homemade foundation powder and coconut oil soap for example – have a relatively long shelf life because they don’t contain water. […]

  13. Missy says:

    Looking forward to making this soon. Where can I buy pH strips?

  14. Audrey says:

    HI, Just have a quick question regarding the lye used in the soap making process. I am wondering why in the world would I want to use a product on my body that requires gloves to make it? Does something break down in the lye that makes it a safe product? Maybe I missed this in the video?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Audrey, here’s an excerpt from my post on soapmaking myths that you may find helpful:

      So here’s the skinny on fats and lye: Both are needed to cause a chemical reaction called saponification – aka making soap. As Marie of Humblebee & Me put it, making soap without lye “is like trying to make a baking soda and vinegar volcano without the vinegar. No vinegar and you’ve just got a pile of baking soda. No lye, and you’ve just got a bucket of fat.”

      Unlike modern chemicals, lye is a naturally occurring substance that has been used for thousands of years. (source) When our great-grandmothers made soap, they got their lye by burning hardwood ashes. Unfortunately each batch was a little different, so it was hard to know exactly how much to mix into a recipe. If too much lye is used, some would be left over in the final product, which could burn skin. If too little lye is used the “soap” would be mostly oil.

      These days soapmakers buy lye from the store, which is exactly the same each time. Using store bought lye ensures that recipes work out right.

  15. Karen says:

    I am going to make this in the next few days…I am tempted to not test because I am afraid to put the sample to my tongue…people have been burned by lye in soap making…is the threat of that over by this point in the process…I see gloves are still needed. Thank you and really interested in your video’s.

  16. Jasmine says:

    Hi Heather,

    Firstly I must say that you have fabulous hair and skin…. Haha, that’s what that’s compelling me to make your body soap (thinking to try this first then the shampoo bar later)!

    Anyway this is my first time working with Lye and yes, I’m definitely worried I mess it up!

    My question is: I only have about 50g of lye with me so can I just scale your recipe for the body bar down by proportion? Or do I have to recalculate?

    Thank you in advance and love your blog xx.

    Best regards,

  17. The 50 Latest Coconut Oil Benefits Backed by Science says:

    […] You can easily make your very own soap with just 3 ingredients and a crockpot check out this excellent photo tutorial for full instructions over here. […]

  18. Sandra says:

    Hi Heather, Thank you so much for all your information, can’t wait to go through it all soon. (newbie from Australia) I am just starting to read all this information on soap making and need to start buying equipment. Is the 8 quart (7.57L) slow cooker necessary? From the video it looks smaller than that, (the one you are using) Also would i need two? One for soap making and one for making broth? Thank you very much. Sandra

  19. linda says:

    your video is great! you make this look so very doable for those of us who have never made soap. would it be possible to update your links for the equipment you use? they aren’t currently working.

    also, if you sold your laundry soap bars online i would definitely buy some. :) i am currently in the throes of making liquid dish soap and was able to find a bar similar to yours but am still tweaking to get the exact formula right that rinses clearly and doesn’t leave spots.

    thanks for all your helpful info!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Linda! Over the weekend there was a site wide glitch that caused all the links to malfunction, but everything is working again. I’m glad you found the tutorial helpful!

  20. Jessie says:

    Can I add other ingredients to this soap recipe. I wanted to try cocoa and coffee in it.

  21. Jacqueline says:

    Can you substitute coconut oil for olive oil in the skin bar and still work great??

    • Heather says:

      Unfortunately due to the fact that each type of oil has a different saponification value substitution won’t work. If you’d like you can recalculate the lye with your preferred oil and see how it goes. In my experience, though, 100% olive oil soap is very difficult to get just right.

  22. Karena Jenkins says:

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but can I use the laundry soap in my HE washing machine? Or do I have to hand wash?

  23. Janna says:

    I made this soap and added cinnamon and lavender essential oils (about .25 oz of each). I did the zap test and it seemed good to me. However, the soap seems to leave my skin dry and in a few places it burns a bit. Does this mean the lye didn’t convert? If i let it set out for a few weeks will it be better? I also wondered if it is the cinnamon oil? I had never used it before.

    • Heather says:

      Hmmm, it could be the cinnamon oil or unconverted lye. If it’s the lye it will mellow over time. Not sure about he cinnamon, unfortunately.

  24. Debbie says:

    Help! I’m making the soap and it hardened in the crockpot! Can I save it??

    • Heather says:

      I’m sorry to hear that! It’s hard to know what happened based on your description, but I can try to help you troubleshoot a few possibilities. A couple of questions:

      1. Did you add fragrance?
      2. Did you weigh all of your ingredients?

      • Debbie says:

        I did not add fragrance. I measured carefully–weighing. It puffed up, but didn’t ever “fold” over on itself or have any kind of puddle of oil in the center.

        I’m trying now to remelt, but it’s not working.

      • Debbie says:

        I didn’t add fragrance. I weighed my ingredients carefully. It puffed up, but never really made a “wave” on the side and folded over, nor was there a puddle in the center of oil. It just hardened all puffed up.

        I chopped it up, added some water, and tried to remelt, but that’s not working either. It “zapped” my tongue; I just wanted to see where it was at. The PH strip is about 12-14, so something’s not right. I’m just going to have to throw it all away. Bummer! $$$

  25. Jocey says:

    I thought I posted this question already but I guess there was some sort of error. I have a small 2qt Crock Pot , and really want to make this soap, but I don’t know if I can just halve it or if that would totally throw off the ratio?
    Please help! Thanks!

  26. Susan says:

    My soap turned out dry. At step 8 it overflowed my small crock pot (will need a bigger one) and hardened and broke into a thousand pieces. What did I do wrong and is there any way to salvage the pieces and turn them into bars of soap??

  27. Holly says:

    my soap has gone right up to the top of the crock pot and is pushing the lid up as if it is going to overflow???

  28. nicole says:

    Maybe I am a big wimp….does the “zap” hurt? I am scared!

  29. Rob says:

    Hi Heather,
    First time soap make here, had to convert measurements to metric as I’m in Australia. Love the simplicity of your recipe. Is there a moisturising ingredient I can add so that my skin is not so dry after use ? I did make the body bar .

  30. Angela says:

    Can you add goats milk instead of water?

  31. VANESSA says:

    Do you think I could use a 6 qrt instead of a 8 qrt crock pot ?

  32. Icy says:

    Hi. I was wondering is there a chance that the soap can be overcooked? And also would your batch be the same if i made it cold process?
    Looking foreward to a reply.
    Thank you.

  33. Danielle says:

    Im super excited to try out these recipes but I had some concern – we dont pour oils/fats down our sinks because it can blog and clog them! Is this not a concern with coconut oil, since its for a body soap and laundry soap?

  34. Lee K says:

    I made this a few days ago and it smells great, feels great but is super drying to my skin. It definitely strips all the oils out of my skin. Will this change as it ages?

    I love it so far but wife tried to use it to shave her legs and she said it was impossible because there was no “slippery” to her skin as she shaved.

  35. Andrea says:

    My soap didn’t form a smooth pudding? Should i cook it longer? It looks and feels very oily? Not sure what i did wrong, other than not using the stick blender. I used a hand held mixer but maybe too late, about 30 minutes into the process..,it started out ok, but never became like pudding…not sure what I did wrong…

    • Lili says:

      To get to pudding you need to blend it for at least 10-15 mins, or at least I did when making the shampoo bar, I’m guessing the lower the fat content the less time to convert as the laundry soap didn’t take quite as long. I’m guessing you could just follow a cold process now, but you might need to research it.

  36. VANESSA says:

    I Would love to make the soap , although I work alot …so can you give me an approx. Time for the soap to firm in the fridge ? Just a guess..?

    • Lili says:

      I make it after the kids have gone to bed. Starting at 8 or 9pm. Prep and making it take about 1hr and the cooking for an hour. I then put it into moulds go to bed and cut it up in the morning! Easy! No fridge needed!

  37. SHERI says:


  38. Rebecca says:

    For the laundry soap bar, how much do you use in each load?

  39. Tina says:

    For the skin soap, would it hurt to reduce the coconut oil to 32 oz since most are sold in increments of 16 to 32 oz?

    • Heather says:

      Tina, the volume needs to be measured by weight rather than volume, which is what I think you are referring to. The measurements need to be precise. If you decide to go with a different amount, you’ll need to recalculate the amount of lye used.

  40. Mai says:

    Hi Heather,
    I am lucky enough to have a beautiful linden tree in my garden which is in full bloom at the moment (Melbourne Australia!) and was hoping to use the flowers to make some soap. Have not tried soap making before but am inspired by the feedback to your recipes. Would you have any suggestions on how to use or process the flowers and how to incorporate the scent into the soap?

  41. Heather says:

    I have used this soap on my babies. It’s not tear-free, though, so I have always been careful to keep it out of their face. Most of my recipes are child-friendly, but a few are for grownups only. For example, I wouldn’t use the warming muscle rub on young children because it contains essential oils that I consider too strong for them.

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