Homemade Bubble Bath for Kids: I Tested 5 Recipes to See Which Ones Actually Work and Compared them to Ingredients in Store Bought.
My child, like most kids, loves bubble baths.
Basically anything that is ridiculous and fun (and can make other bath time tasks, like hair washing, better) and she’s down for it: bath paint is a favorite, rainbow bath foam, bubble play dough, and, of course, bubble bath!
But have you ever taken a look at the ingredients in most bubble bath brands?
Most bottles of kids bubble bath are covered in a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, which leaves me wondering how safe they are for my kiddo.
Now that she’s a bit older and well into the toddler years, I’m a bit more relaxed about the ingredients vs. fun ratio. In other words, if something is fun enough, I let ingredients concerns slide a bit. This lets us do some of the fun DIY projects, like bath foam or bubble play dough, that we didn’t try when she was younger and more sensitive to ingredients.
However, for the most part, I still at least try to keep more questionable chemicals in personal care, cleaning products, and other daily use items out of our house, and especially away from my child.
If you’re the same, and have been wondering what that means for bath time, I’ve got you covered.
Below, you’ll find my guide to store bought vs homemade bubble bath for kids. I even tested 5 popular bubble bath recipes to see how well they work (spoiler: they’re mostly pretty bad). And gave my best tips if you decide to go DIY.
Some Store Bought Bubble Bath Brands Are Actually Okay
If you go down some Internet rabbit holes, you might be led to believe that DIY recipes for homemade bubble bath are the only way to keep your kiddo safe from the ravages of Big Bubble.
But is that really true?
When it comes to personal care and cleaning products, I often consult the EWG’s Skin Deep database to see how good/bad a product is, based on the ingredient breakdown.
And lo and behold, some store bought bubble baths are actually….fine.
In particular, Attitude brand, has a number of EWG Verified bubble baths, which means they have achieved the safest possible rating. This didn’t really surprise me, since it’s currently my go-to for both me and my daughter when it comes to shampoo, conditioner, detangler, body wash, and lotion (I also use it for some laundry stuff).
Here’s a partial list of EWG Verified baby bubble bath brands you can find fairly easily online:
- Attitude Baby Leaves Bubble Wash (Good Night Almond Milk and Pear Nectar)
- Hello Bello Calming Soft Lavender Bubble Bath
- Think Baby Bubble Bath (which we’ve also used, and found to be not super bubbly)
- Babo Botanicals (Lavender/Meadowsweet and Eucalyptus Remedy)
Why Make Homemade Bubble Bath for Kids?
But what if you don’t want to buy bubble bath, and would prefer to make your own?
Is there any reason for it? There definitely are good reasons behind this decision, such as …
My child, like a lot of babies, toddlers, and kids, has fairly sensitive skin.
We’ve tried using lots of natural store bought bath products over the past couple of years. And while some work, some result in dry, itchy skin or a rash.
If your little one has really sensitive skin, it’s fair to think the option to make your own bubble bath is a better decision for your family. It will allow you to test out ingredients in a more controlled manner, which brings me to my next point…
Having watched my own child struggle for days with a rash and skin itchiness brought on by a “natural” bath bomb, I completely understand the desire to keep tight control over the ingredients you put in their bath water.
If you ask me, this is one of the top reasons to test out more natural kids bubble recipes.
You can also add in extra ingredients to soothe or moisturize skin, experimenting with ingredients such as coconut oil.
Fragrance You Can Feel Okay About
We’re not huge fans of fragrance in our house. They’re a known source of phthalates, and for the most part I personally find them too strong, and give me a bit of a headache. Even essential oils are, for the most part, not something we really use.
However, making your own bubble bath means you can control what fragrance goes in, and what stays out.
If you love essential oil and feel confident using them and knowing which are safe for kids, by all means go for it! If you’re not up to date on essential oil use and safety, it’s okay to leave it out, too. While lavender essential oil is indeed calming, in my experience a warm bath is calming enough, especially when it’s part of a bath-book-bed routine that your child knows and is predictable.
All of the DIY bubble bath for kids that I tried out below used two sources of fragrance: kid-safe essential oils (i.e. lavender) or natural extracts (i.e. vanilla). For the most part, I just skipped the steps that called for adding a few drops of essential oil to the solution.
Is There Any Downside If You Make Homemade Bubble Bath?
For the Most Part, Homemade or DIY Don’t Get Great Suds
For me, the biggest downside in making my own is that, based on my experience testing out different recipes, homemade doesn’t work nearly as well as the stuff from the store.
(See, for example, this photo, in which bubbles almost completely failed to form!)
With some of the recipes, the bubbles barely formed, and with many, they disappeared in just a few minutes – not nearly enough time for a fun bath!
I did get one recipe to work pretty well, but as you’ll see below, I’m not sure this recipe was actually any better than buying one of the EWG Verified brands of bubble bath, such as Attitude.
Some of the Recipes Come with Health Concerns
For the most part, the recipes relied on pure liquid soap (most used Dr. Bronners, which I use in our house for lots of things, and tried in all the recipes), and vegetable glycerin. However, most also called for other ingredients that IMO can come with some health concerns:
- Raw Egg: Some homemade recipes call for egg white which gives me concern, especially around kids who are always putting their hands on their face, in their mouths, etc. Nobody wants a bath with a side of salmonella.
- Essential Oil: Not all essential oils are safe for kids, and even those that are safe need to be properly diluted to ensure they’re safe. While lavender essential oil is generally considered safe, you still need to dilute it to be safe for their skin. If you don’t have this knowledge, it could be a hazard.
- Food Ingredients: Food ingredients like honey and egg are an invitation for bacteria, especially if you’re using bath toys at the same time. Using these ingredients with bath toys mean they need to be properly cleaned after every bath.
It’s Not Typically Tear Free
When you make your own bubble bath, it’s not typically tear free, which means you need to be careful that your little one doesn’t get it near their eyes. Bubble baths made by larger companies typically take this into account, and make sure they’re sting free formulas.
5 Homemade Bubble Bath Recipes, Graded for Performance
In the interest of trying to reduce the potentially harmful chemicals and ingredients we have in the house, I decided to try out what seem to be 5 common and popular bubble bath recipes. I haven’t credited the source on these, because they are quite common. I did a search on Pinterest and a Google search, and I found pretty much the same version, or a slight variation on it, across many different sites.
First I tested each in the sink.
Then, if they made bubbles successfully in the sink, I moved them into the tub, using the actual amount of water and temperature I’d use for my child.
Lots of recipes that stood up to the sink test didn’t work in the bathtub, which I’m guessing is due to the volume of the water.
Results from my testing, photos, and notes are below, followed by some conclusions and my recommendations and tips.
Honey Nut Bubble Bath
I was really excited about this one, and saw variations of it across the Internet with various ingredients that included things like almond oil, honey, castile soap, glycerin, and sometimes vanilla.
DIY Honey Almond Bubble Bath Recipe
The first one I tried was pretty basic, and called for a ratio of almond oil to honey to castile soap of 1 to 1/2 to 3/4 (for example, 1 cup oil, 1/2 cup honey, and 3/4 cup soap).
I tried it out in my bath, and the first results were promising.
Unfortunately, before the bath even finished running (and when the water was still quite shallow), the bubbles stopped forming. I ended up with one end of the bath with some small bubbles, and the other end just really milky looking.
Even worse? The bubbles that did form popped within 5 minutes.
That said, my skin was really soft, and not at all sticky as I expected it to be.
DIY Honey Vanilla Bubble Bath
Knowing the honey/soap/almond oil wasn’t enough to form large, durable bubbles, I figured I’d try my own version of a honey vanilla homemade bubble bath recipe using glycerin, and tweaked from what I found on the Internet.
For Version 1 I used:
- 1 cup liquid soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby)
- 1.5 tablespoons glycerin
- 2 teaspoons almond oil
- 1.5 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
I then tweaked it, adding the equivalent of the white of one egg, to see if that made better or more durable bubbles. For the egg, I used the pasteurized, liquid version you can buy in a carton to reduce my salmonella fears.
The results? It made beautiful bubbles in my sink, but was an absolute dud when I used it in the bath.
The results were pretty much the same as above, with half the bath forming bubbles, but not enough to really have a bubble bath, and them popping very quickly to leave milky looking bath water that, to be fair, does really moisturize!
My Grade: F
Castile Soap & Glycerin Recipes
The most common recipes I’ve seen are simply a ratio of liquid castile soap to glycerin, with optional essential oils.
Easy enough, I thought!
The first recipe I tried suggested a ratio of 1:1 ratio, soap to glycerin. Spoiler: this didn’t work at all. I tested it in my sink, and the liquid just dissolved into the water, nary a bubble to be made.
After a bit of research, I found out why: Too much glycerine makes your solution too heavy and sticky to make good bubbles.
So I tried some other ratios, including 1 cup Castile to 1 tablespoon glycerin.
This one worked much better, and it actually looked like a bubble bath…at first.
This formula does not form huge, bubbles that you can blow. However, it forms a decent foam of small bubbles that covered most of the surface of the water.
Unfortunately, less than 5 minutes later, the bubbles were fast dissolving, and the surface of the water looked more like Antarctica scattered with bubble icebergs here and there, rather than a glacier full of gorgeous white (foam).
Here’s the same bath, after about 3 or 4 minutes.
My Grade: C
Liquid Soap, Glycerin & Water Recipe
A bit more research, and I found recipes that use water as well, which is touted as a key ingredient. Because I live in an area with soft water (which is good for bubbles) I figured I’d try it straight out of the tap. If you live somewhere with hard water, you’ll need to use distilled water.
- 1 cup liquid castile soap
- 1/3 cup vegetable glycerin
- 1 Tbs. distilled or soft water
This made no difference in my experiment, and came out pretty much exactly like the version without water.
My Grade: C
Liquid Soap, Non Toxic Shampoo, & Glycerin Recipe
Then I came across a recipe that uses pure liquid soap AND non toxic shampoo together, along with glycerin.
This one was the best yet!
The bubbles were similar to the liquid soap and glycerin recipe above, but the recipe made more of them. They weren’t massive like bubble bath bubbles, but rather a foamy layer that was pretty good.
I used the Attitude Shampoo I use on my own hair, because it’s what I have in the house.
Best of all about this homemade bubble bath recipe?
When I went back to check 5, 10, and 15 minutes later….the bubbles were still there. Yes, they were getting thinner, but they persisted.
Here’s the same bath after 15 minutes:
And here’s the recipe for this one:
- 1 cup liquid soap
- 1/2 cup non toxic shampoo, such as Attitude
- 1 Tbs Vegetable Glycerin
My Grade: B+
Homemade Bubble Bath With … Egg
Some recipes called for egg white.
In all honesty, I was a bit grossed out by the concept. I opted to use liquid pasteurized egg whites because I was freaked out about making something for my daughter that could contain salmonella. Especially since she puts her bath toys in with the bubbles, etc.
The recipe I tried calls for ½ cup mild liquid hand or body soap, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 egg white.
The bubbles on this one weren’t bad. Out of the ones that aren’t adding shampoo, this was the best bubble performance. But egg whites in the bath seem gross to me, which knocks this one down a notch in my mind.
Unfortunaltey, these ones didn’t last either, and lost their bubbles quite quickly.
My Grade: B- (Pure performance score was a B, but it lost points for grossness)
Tips for Using Your DIY Suds
As you can see, my experience with DIY wasn’t super successful, and for my part, I’m going to continue to buy my bubble bath for kids, rather than go the homemade route.
If you choose to go the homemade route, I have a few tips to hopefully make your project as successful as possible.
Getting the Best Bubbles
With all of the recipes I tried, I got better results when I drizzled the bubble solution in slowly under running water, and used my hand to mix and swish the bubbles around.
As bubbles formed, I moved them to the back of the tub (away from the tap) to give room for more to form.
I definitely recommend doing this before your child gets into the bath, as it takes a little while to get it nice and foamy. Additionally, don’t add toys to the bath until you’re done forming the bubbles.
Many of the ingredients in the bubble solution (oils in particular) can make the bath tup slippery! As such, make sure you have all your bathtub safety precautions in place, such as a non-slip mat and a spout cover to prevent against head bumps.
If you’re using bath toys with bubble bath that contains food ingredients, in particular, make sure you give them a proper clean after every use (i.e. run them through the dishwasher or washing machine, or use another common cleaning method for bath toys). You don’t want anything left over that will encourage bacteria or mould.
Everyone knows bubble baths makes bath time more fun. They can be lively or calming, and depending on the ingredients, can soothe skin, moisturize it, or dry it out.
While I get the instinct to make your own bubble bath, based on my tests above, it’s not a super effective method, especially considering there are a few brands out there that are quite safe, achieving EWG’s Verified Status.
I hope my experiments and tests help you make the right decision for your own family. If you know a parent who’s concerned about safety of bubble bath and other personal care products, please share this post with them!