Ever Wonder What Happens to Half-Used Hotel Soap?

When you stop to think about all the lives that little bar of soap can save, you won't take it for granted again.

Studio-ART/ShutterstockOne of the most fun things about staying at a hotel is using the toiletries. We don’t blame you for stashing those adorable mini bottles of body lotion in your bag (we do, too!), but have you ever wondered what happens to the halfway used bar of soap and other products you leave behind?

Consider that there are an estimated 4.6 million hotel rooms in the U.S. and within each room, there is at least one bar of soap, and the majority of folks do not use the entire bar of soap during their stay—that’s a lot of soap, not to mention shampoo and conditioner.

To make sure all that potential cleanliness doesn’t go to waste, Clean the World, which partners with the Global Soap Project (GSP), has been recycling those soaps to make new soap for those in need in developing countries and reduce waste here at home.

This is an important mission, because a lack of access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene can lead to pneumonia and diarrhea, two of the three leading causes of death in children five-years old and younger in the developing world. Proper access to soap can dramatically drop both of these.

Recycling costs the hotels just 75 cents per room a month. The leftover soap, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner is cleaned, sterilized, and tested for purity before it’s shipped off to another part of the world. The groups package hygiene kits and teach people how to use soap as well as its importance to good health. Taking it all a step further, they also make micro loans to encourage local and small soap producers, so that people can have access to soap forever.

While GSP and Clean the World are leaders in the game, there are other programs in place. Some hotels donate second-hand toiletries to local homeless or women’s shelters or community support networks, others donate to their local Salvation Army, and others to local clinics and orphanages. Some hotels are preventing the problem before it starts and have switched to using larger shampoo, conditioner, and body wash dispensers in the rooms that can be refilled, to reduce waste. This is how soap gets recycled. 

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Alexa Erickson
Alexa is an experienced lifestyle and news writer currently working with Reader's Digest, Shape Magazine, and various other publications. She loves writing about her travels, health, wellness, home decor, food and drink, fashion, beauty, and scientific news. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram: @living_by_lex, send her a message: [email protected], and check out her website: livingbylex.com