How to Make Organic Soap Using Soapwort


There are a number of great concoctions for using soapwort (Saponaria officinalis), and you can find many recipes on the web. When I was in college, my Godmother shared her recipe with me. She lived in California and kept lots of herbs on her property. She used her soapwort liquid soap solution to clean her lace tablecloths and lace curtains, much the way her mother had done before her. Soapwort is also a very effective shampoo if you want something really gentle for problem hair.

She maintained her soapwort as far away from her koi pond as she could. Soapwort wreaks havoc with aquatic environments, so placing it away from your populated water feature is a good idea.

The two recipes I'm including here are very simple. You can embellish them as you see fit. I've added lavender to the soapwort solution for washing fine handkerchiefs and included lemon juice to lighten stains on the fabric. I've never had a problem, but to be safe, test an area of the material you plan on washing.

If you plan on using soapwort soap for general cleaning, you might consider buying a foamy pump sprayer. Some herb outlets carry them to help increase the foaming action and overall effectiveness of soapwort. To be honest, I just use a plain old economy sprayer, but with a couple of shakes, it creates a lather and works fine.

Soapwort Liquid Soap Recipe

  • 2 Cups of chopped soapwort leaves and stems (1 cup dried)
  • 1 Quart distilled water

Add soapwort leaves to boiling water and cover the pan.
  1. Continue simmering for fifteen minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Strain through cheesecloth.
  4. Include any additives.
You can keep the liquid up to a week in the refrigerator.

Soapwort Shampoo

Soapwort shampoo is a little less concentrated than the all-purpose cleaner.

  • 3 Tablespoons fresh soapwort (1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1 Cup water (distilled)

Follow boiling directions above. You can easily make three or four batches at a time.


Soapwort is not intended for internal use: Not that you drink your soap, but if you're planning on shampooing your dog with soapwort - don’t. Any residue left on his fur would be lapped up the next time he grooms himself. There are online sites that recommend soapwort as a mild alternative to pet shampoo, but I never use it that way.

Distilled Water: You can substitute filtered water for the distilled water if you're using soapwort solution as a general cleanser. Distilling water removes any chemicals, like metals and bacteria. For a pure and wholesome cleaner, go the extra step and use the distilled stuff if you can (just my two cents worth). You can buy a half gallon cheap at most grocery stores.

For a facial and hand soap, use the weaker concentration. With regular use, it's supposed to help with itchy skin and mild acne.

Some neat soapwort additives: Lemon Juice (for mild bleaching), lavender water, lemon balm, peppermint oil, crushed rosemary leaves.

To grow soapwort in your garden, visit: Growing Soapwort.

Photo1 - By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo2 - Lace Tablecloth, courtesy of


  1. Oh yay! I have a giant clump of Soapwort and can't really stand the plant because it takes up so much room and isn't very attractive in my opinion, but do not want to get rid of it because of it's properties. But now thanks to your post I have a better idea what to do with it.
    Thanks so much!

  2. Well Kara,

    If I've saved one plant from wanton destruction, my work here is done. :)

    Thanks for visiting!


  3. I work with pre school children and last year we made soap that we used to make our powder paints. No more lasting stains and we washed our hands after and it was more effective than our previous soaps.

    Thankyou so much for the reciepe I cant wait to try it with them.

  4. Anna,

    Let us know how it goes.


  5. Oh yeay! I just discovered this lovely plant at the herb farm where I work. They have a large planting of it at Fat Cat Farm in Paso Robles CA. I brink folks out to wash their hands with the soap all the time. I can't wait to give your recipes a try!

  6. Hey Lisa,

    Thanks for visiting. Making a gentle soap like this is a really fun weekend project.


  7. Thanks for the info - I'm going to have to come back here more often! I'm looking for a plant I can put next to the garden tap and just grab a few leaves when washing my hands, without the effort of processing. Will the soapwort leaves work in this way? I wouldn't expect them to be as good as soap, but hope they're an improvement on rinsing with water only.


  8. Soapwort produces a nice lather that helps lift dirt and keep it in suspension while your wash clothes (or your hands). If you give the plant good drainage and plenty of sun, it should work as your own personal hand soap in the garden. What a great idea!

  9. Anonymous12:07:00 PM

    I think I have a bunch of soapwort in a flowerbed and would like to use it. I picked some leaves to see if I could get a little lather but a whole lot of green came out. Does it work better with dry leaves.....if you used it to launder clothes wouldn't they turn green?


  10. You'll get a nice lather when you boil the leaves. Use the recipe above.

  11. Thank you for sharing the recipes-I have some and I want to use it:):)

  12. Can you can the soapwart shampoo to preserve it in small jelly jars?

  13. I'm sorry, but I've never tried it. If you do, please come back and tell us how it goes.


  14. Where do your get the seeds to plant Soapwort? I am interested in planting it on my farm.

  15. Wow this is pretty cool, I've been using soapnuts for a few months now, but I didnt know about the soap wort plant, I'm going to have to get some to grow in my garden for next year!

    1. I am in the UK. Very easy to grow - and easy to make. Someone on here wrote that it wasn't an attractive plant. I admit it is a bit unruly but i love it. I think it is very pretty and the smell is musky but I love it.

  16. Thank you for this recipe! As a city girl, I had never seen a soapwort plant, but I was motivated to make my own liquid soap without using lye. During a recovery period from bi-lateral knee replacement surgery, I researched and found a resource of organic soapwort extract. Using this extract, I was able to easily and quickly formulate liquid had soap, body wash and shampoo. A great success for entire household! Now I can get around better and have started growing soapwort of my own. Thank you again!

  17. Hi, can you add sodium hydroxide to the soapwort concoction to make solid shampoo? Thanks

  18. I have been using soapwort for some time now - mainly for use as a shampoo BUT I find that it goes off fairly quickly so I am looking for a natural preservative. (I use conker soap too. It just depends on what I have available.)


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