Bulk Soap and Shampoo

One hotel issue that’s been important to me for years is the use of bulk bathroom amenities. By using quality shampoo, bath gel, conditioner and even lotions in bulk dispensers you not only take care of your guests — your primary responsibility — but also you take care of your budget and the environment. What a great win-win all the way around!

In doing research for this article I found several wonderful products, but only two companies had hotel programs and provided various products in gallon containers. Telling you about great products that weren’t provided in bulk containers was counter-productive, so this article shares my findings of two great green hotel vendors.

I feel strongly that the individual soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion hotels use are a huge problem. The problem encompasses waste, pollution, and natural resource depletion. What an environmental nightmare! When I was an innkeeper I even tried saving my individual bars of soap to give to one of the shelters in town. I had gathered lots of them and then called the jail, women’s shelter, and shelter for the homeless, only to find the response to my offer of free soap was the same: no thanks, that’s dirty. I hear there are programs around that give such soaps to shelters in foreign countries, but I couldn’t connect with them then. And that only partially mitigates the problem of waste and resource depletion, it doesn’t eliminate it.

Instead of you dumping hundreds, if not thousands, of little bottles into the landfill each year, dump only a few large bottles. If more lodging properties subscribed to that approach, less petroleum products would be used to make those bottles, saving natural resources and improving air and water quality, and reducing the load on landfills world-wide.

But there are two companies that specialize in green hospitality products and service: Green Suites and Pineapple Hospitality. When I contacted Green Suites and Ray Burger of Pineapple Hospitality about providing me samples of their shampoos and soaps, they both readily agreed.

I had expected one small sample of a shampoo and a soap, but no, they sent me large samples of several shampoos and soaps, as well as conditioners and lotions. I was amazed and pleased. And it gave me the idea of spreading the wealth of products around so I could get more than one opinion (mine) about the products to share with you.

I tried each product and then gave it to various friends and family, and having my house guests try it too. It’s good to get more than one opinion about a product, especially when I’m a nightmare “guest” because of my scent and lauryl sulfate sensitivities. It’s also known as sodium lauryl sulfate, laureth sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, and sodium dodecyl sulfate. It’s an ionic surfactant and an inexpensive foamer. Tests show it to be a skin irritant. It also has also been found to penetrate the skin, going into internal organs where it stays for a long time.

[As an aside: chemical sensitivity is becoming more prevalent, with people reacting to scents and volatile organic compounds. The sensitivity reactions range from sinus congestion, headaches, and nausea, to anaphylactic responses. Just as nut allergies should be something to be aware of, now so should chemical sensitivities.]

Both companies sent me their private labeled shampoo. The shampoo Pineapple Hospitality sent me contains lauryl sulfate, but I tried it once anyway, just so I’d have a sense of it, before passing it along for others (I made sure the people I gave it to didn’t have the sensitivity I have first). The products of both companies were scented, and some quite strongly; most of it was too much for me and my husband, but my various friends who tried them and generally liked the scents and the results.

I was a bit suspicious of the ingredients in the shampoos provided by GreenSuites when the manufacturer wouldn’t share the list; I figured it contained lauryl sulfate, or one of its cousin chemicals, which I’m quite sensitive to (my scalp typically itches for 24 hours after using it). But after using it for several months, granted not constantly during that time, I am quite pleased with the condition it leaves my hair and the lack of itching.

Both of these companies are catering to green hotels , so the bathroom amenities are sold in large containers. You can also get individual sizes for selling in your gift shop. Let me strongly urge you to sell the guest products you use in your inn because it makes money for you. When you find a product you and your guests like, be it bathroom amenities, bathrobes or decorations, do your guests a favor by making the product available to them in your gift shop. It also helps you defray the cost of providing quality products by getting quantity pricing when you make your purchases.

So, what about these different products? The bottom line is that most people liked everything they tried. There wasn’t a single product that everyone disliked. I had men, women and children of all age groups test the various shampoos and conditioners. Some people had oily hair, while others colored or permed their hair, and some were wash-and-wear people like me. I also had testers in different parts of the country, so the results aren’t based just on my dry climate. One person with oily hair didn’t like the conditioning shampoo she tried.

There were also other products besides the shampoos: body gel, conditioner and lotion. The body gel cleaned my skin nicely, and left it soft too (remember that dry climate I’m in; the challenges of not having alligator skin can be tremendous in dry climates like Colorado has). The scent was strong enough for me to enjoy but not regret having on my hands after my washing was complete. That seems to be the same feeling of everyone who tried the body gel.

The lotion was thinner than I’m used to (a common comment among my testers) but left my skin soft. It even healed my summer-calloused feet, and there was no oily residue to stain paper or cloth, much less leave me feeling gummy or sweaty.

The conditioners seemed to do their jobs as well. The scents of the shampoo and conditioner were the main complaints I heard. And the general consensus was the conditioner left soft, shiny hair that was easy to manage.

You can find bulk dispensers with both of these companies. Aviva makes a great dispenser; I bought mine through Amazon. Do yourself and your guests a favor by providing quality bathroom amenities in bulk dispensers. Support the businesses who work to help you green your bed and breakfast and your bottom line.

I love sharing my hospitality finds with you. And when they are good for your guests and the environment, I’m doubly thrilled. If you are looking for quality bulk bathroom amenities, check these two companies out.

2 thoughts on “Bulk Soap and Shampoo”

  1. I’m looking for healthy ingredient shampoos and conditioners in small sizes for a rental house in Hawaii.
    Or….a large pump bottle with this product so we can refill the smaller bottles.
    Any ideas? Thanks

  2. I have had minimal luck finding bulk shampoos without lauryl sulfate, a chemical that is a known irritant. And when I have found shampoos I love and don’t have lauryl sulfate (read my article about this chemical additive at http://www.economicallysound.com/irritating_your_guests.html)
    they don’t tend to offer the shampoo in bulk.
    Check with GreenSuites to see if they have any bulk shampoos with healthy ingredients — including no lauryl sulfate — and ask them for samples.
    The shampoo I use at home is by Avalon. I buy it in the grocery store, but it might be worth contacting them directly to learn about their bulk options.
    Good luck. Let us know what you find.

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