Garden talk

Gardener's Hand Scrub

Hi. Long time no see.

Construction is moving along.  And with the chaos that ensues around here, I have been somewhat paralyzed.  No cooking, no sewing, no knitting, very little cleaning.  I really can't stand to be in the house so I have been away or outside as much as possible.  The only thing I am working on is the garden and that is a steady work in progress.

I don't wear gloves when I garden - I like feeling the soil on my hands.  Having my hands in the dirt for hours makes them filthy which I don't mind until it's time to wash off that dirt.  I read about a hand scrub in Garden Anywhere by Alys Fowler and decided to mix up a batch for myself.  I really like how it turned out so I thought I would share it with you.  Most likely you already have everything you need to make this gardener's hand scrub: a jar or container with a lid, sugar, liquid dish soap and a spoon.

Scrub 1

I used a 16 oz. canning jar and filled it 3/4 full of sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups.

Scrub 2
Then add the liquid dish soap until it almost reaches the top.  Stir to mix the soap and sugar.  You want a paste - not too runny or too solid - so you may need to add more sugar.  I added another 1/2 cup to get the consistency correct.

Scrub 3
To wash the dirt off your hands, use a small amount and rub it all over your hands.  The sugar is a great exfoliant that removes the dirt while the soap washes it all away.  You could add a cute label to the jar if you were so inclined.  Pair it with a similar, moisturizing scrub made with olive oil and sugar and it'd make a fantastic gift.

*  *  *  *  *

Hopefully, I will be back here sooner rather than later.  I'm planning on updating the shop around April 15th and I'll announce that as soon as I have the particulars figured out.  Until then, you'll likely find me outside.

Take care.


rachel | buttons magee

great tip erin! i will have to make some.


LOVE this! I'll have to get some mixed up just as soon as it's gardening time (which is coming right up!).


outside is good. and thanks for the idea of a hand scrub!


it even looks pretty! I think your garden will benefit from all that construction indoors (which is over soon, right? Right?) xo


That looks great. I often end up without gloves, as one pair is always in someone's car, at work, etc. Looking forward to seeing all your gardening work!


what a wonderful idea! i don't wear gloves either and will definitely be mixing up a batch before gardening season arrives in minnesota!


garden anywhere is my favorite garden book; i've made this too and it's really fantastic. have fun in the dirt!


Per your recommendation I ordered both of the gardening books you suggested.

I never thought I'd have daydreams about chard and squash. Go figure.

Thanks for the scrub how-to.


I love the idea! And I've definitely used sugar scrubs before, but I do have doubts - how does it leave your hands clean and not sticky from the sugar? Would salt work the same way?

Erin | house on hill road

I've been using it for about a week and haven't had any problems with sticky hands.  The soap seems to take care of the dirt and the sugar!

heather smith jones

I bet the sugar feels good too on your hands. Thanks for sharing this!


Thanks, I'll have to give it a try.

Jessica Dougherty

this is great! will post a link on craft gossip's bath & body blog.


That is lovely! Thank you for the tip. I, too, like to feel the earth when I garden and then feel silly later when I can't get ALL the dirt off my hands or my nails! I will have to give this a try very soon..

tara thayer

i love this, erin. and i'm thinking that if i made up a batch with some lemon juice or something, i could take it right into the shower.
good luck with everything kitchen wise, and enjoy spring! xo

murr brewster

I never used to wear gloves until they came out with those nitrile ones. Finally something I can pull a weed with. And it just so happens that I just finished writing about why I wear gloves now myself, at Although I must admit the cream looks right tasty.


Looks fab. Is it just me or does it look quite appetising in that last photo? like vanilla yoghurt or something.
I have a complete "re-landscaping" job to be getting on with, once the weather makes its mind up, so this may come in very useful.


Ooooohhhh I love this!

Betty B

I used to do this as a bath scrub for x-mas gifts, although I added jojoba oil to make it a little creamier and less drying. Yo ushould give that a shot! and it smells so yummy!!!


sweet idea!


Oooh lovely - my Dad used to be a BT engineer, and he used to have huge bottles of a lemon-scented version of this in his van, I loved it! I've tried making a scrub with olive oil before, must make some :D


Yea! I love Mrs Meyers cleaning day and Gerainium is my favorite of favorites. I can't wait to start gardening so I can use this! Thanks for the great tip and I bet your hands smell soo good..... Now I must go clean....sniff sniff!

Carol Harlow

Gardening isn't my favorite thing to do, so I usually can't find gloves. I can't wait to try this!


Don't know how much BBC you can access in the States, but Alys has a new show starting this week called "The Edible Garden".


Sounds great! bet it smells sweet like sugar.

  Baby Bedding

loved it! I've tried making a scrub with olive oil before, must make some


What a simple yet effective hand scrub. I am going to make this today...thank you for the terrific idea :)


How delightful. I think I am going to have to make some of this.

Lisa Clarke

Thanks for sharing this - I bet it could really help get polymer clay off of my hands. Usually regular soap is ok, but when I've had a marathon claying session, I often wish I had something with more grit to help release the caked-on clay. This should work!

Erin | house on hill road

oh, i bet it will work great! there are probably many uses for this out there that i haven't even thought of.


Really? Sugar and dish soap?? I'm a sans-glover, also, but have never found a solution for those grimy black lines. This has hope written all over it... Thanks!

 grow taller for idiots

I love the idea! And I've definitely used sugar scrubs before

Erin | house on hill road

It works really well, Molly! I think it'd be particularly nice with a citrus scented soap.


What luck!  We've just run out of dish soap entirely.  I'm thinking that lovely Method grapefruit...


thanks for sharing the recipe for this. it looks like a fun thing to try. i forget my gardening gloves all the time. and i don't mind digging in the dirt with my hands at all, but i do mind having hands that look like a farmer. :)

Mousy Brown

I spent ages looking for this post today - I read it in a hurry yesterday and then wanted to try it out and couldn't remember where I saw it......luckily you are only number 45 in my alphabetical feeds list or it might have been weeks till I rediscovered it! :D

soNOTcool :: Jodi Anderson

I can't hardly wait to finish the salad that I'm eating so that I can mix up a batch of this. Thanks for the great tip. :)


I've definitely used sugar scrubs before, but I do have doubts - how does it leave your hands clean and not sticky from the sugar?

Erin | house on hill road

the sugar washes away with the soap.  no sticky hands at all!


Great tip! I love gardening without gloves as well and my hands get pretty dirty and pretty torn up. In the past I've made a batch of moisturizer using brown sugar and coconut oil, which not only works wonders, but smells super yummy. I will have to up a batch based on your recipe now and keep both of them by the sink.


How easy, this is great. Thank you. Clarice


My dad's birthday is in May and this will make a great gift for him - thank you for sharing it!


If you are a painter, you can make a similar scrub from sugar and olive oil that will easily remove all water and oil based paints from your skin.

Mary Ellen

I totally love this! I live in the garden during the summer and this would be a yummy treat for when I wash my hands. Thanks for sharing the directions!


Salt works the same as sugar for the scrubbing business, but it also can burn a bit with sensative skin, or in those little cuts from digging in dirt.


Just made this with Dr. Brooner's Magic Soap in Lavander, sugar and I added 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil. It turned out great! The coconut oil added just enough, so that my hands are soft, but not greasy! My hands smell soooo good!

Jessica R.

I made some for my mom and bf's mom - gonna give it to them for Mother's Day. I made lots extra so I have some too. Thanks for this!

Camille Dawn

I can't wait to try this recipe! I don't want to lose the link, and wanted to share with others too for Mothers Day this year, so it's featured it in a roundup of my favorite DIY Mothers Day gifts, here:

Mother Lode

nicole j bideau

Hi Erin on your blog you said to use dish soap is that fairy liquid I'm from the UK and we don't have the same products as you hope you can help thanks for the share ttfn

Erin | house on hill road

hi nicole - any kind of liquid soap should work.

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