How to Refill a Foaming Hand-soap Container

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About: In a world where the blind leads the blind, who do you follow?

This is a method to expand the lifespan of your foaming liquid hand soap (and container).

The foaming hand soap containers in question have a little disclaimer on them stating not to refill them with regular hand soap or they will clog. This is indeed true, however I've noticed a lot of people either throwing away the empty plastic container (what a waste!) or refilling it with regular hand soap, after which they just don't work.

The process is incredibly simple - the foaming pump works because it injects a bunch of air into a small amount of soap as it pumps. Most hand soap is too viscous to accept this air, and it just causes problems. Solution? Make a solution! Water down the soap!

Step 1: Choose a Soap

I went with whatever we had around - apple body wash. It's hard to make out in the picture, because of the colour - but I've filled the pump container with about 1/5th soap, then fill to about an inch from the top with water (to prevent overflow when the pump is inserted)

Tip: Add the water slowly, so as to not agitate the soap too much - if it mixes while you're adding water, you will have a hard time getting it to fill without overflowing with suds everywhere.

Step 2: Agitate

This is up to you - freedom for the masses:

Agitate slowly, or violently, however you prefer. Just mix until all the soap is 'dissolved'.

Step 3: You're Finished!

Tada!

Now you're on to using less soap, and wasting less plastic!

Behind the scenes: Soap itself doesn't really clean your hands. Soap merely makes most dirt more happy to mix with water than it is to stick to your hands. Hence why this product is so great. You can start with the foam (already 4:1 mixed with water) and do most of the hand cleaning with that, then simply use a LITTLE tap water to rinse off. Water savings too!

Downside - its more work. Alternately, you could prepare some watered-down hand-soap in a spare 4L jug, and keep that handy to refill your pumps.

Enjoy!

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    95 Discussions

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    dchall8

    11 years ago on Introduction

    I like it. You didn't really get into the economics of this, but the foaming soap refill costs about the same per ounce as the same scent of the non-foaming soap. So when you mix your own, you get about 4x as many handwashings for the money and the same soap scent. I've also used Dawn dishwashing liquid with pretty good results. I mix the soap in a separate container so the foam can settle out. I put about 3 ounces of the hottest water I can into the container first. Then I put the soap in and agitate that until it seems to be mixed but not foamy. Then I slowly fill the container with hot water trying not to generate foam. My process with the hot water might be extra trouble. There is one problem you might watch out for. My first foaming soap dispenser seems to collect soap inside the translucent top. That might be part of the problem with why the plunger isn't working right. I've disassembled and reassembled several times to drain it. If you decide to disassemble your plunger for any reason, THERE IS A TINY STEEL BALL inside. If you lose that critical part, you can recycle or find other uses for the useless plunger parts. Also when reassembling, push on the large plastic cup until it snaps into place. Another possible problem is this. After refilling with a different soap (I used Dawn dishwashing soap in a hand soap plunger), the plunger doesn't seem to move as easily. I switched to refilling with the official brand of foamy soap refill and it works better. I've also tried Wal-Mart's Equate brand of foamy soap refill with good results. I'm trying different things with different plungers and have not really duplicated the problem I had with the first one.

    6 replies
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    GillianN2dchall8

    Reply 4 months ago

    Ohhh I just saw that the
    TINY BALL BEARING reply
    was written 11 years ago.
    I doubt the writer is going to see my thanks.;)

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    dchall8GillianN2

    Reply 4 months ago

    You never know! And you're welcome.

    I use a 1:2 soap to water mix now and most of my problems have gone away. I still get the soap filling the cup and making the plunger not work right. Now instead of disassembling the pump, I turn the pump upside down and stick the nozzle into the soap container. Sometimes the soap in the cup will drain out by itself. Sometimes I can give the plunger a minute push and that will start the flow. And sometimes I have to pump the plunger completely several times. That brings out a soggy foam, but it is effective in draining the cup. Put it all back together and it works.

    Funny that it's been 11 years, and they have not improved the foamy pump plungers.

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    GillianN2dchall8

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for that info about the TINY STEEL BALL!!! This is the second time I’ve refilled the container for a second time and suddenly it doesn’t work. This time, I put in way too much soap but didn’t realize that was the problem and when I was trying to figure it out, I took the pump part out of the top and as it slipped out of my hand I heard a little noise of something hitting the metal sink. I assumed it was a plastic part and didn’t find anything so I took the whole thing apart and put it back together again and again and was so frustrated I finally googled it and found this thread. I almost gave up after reading the whole first page full of comments that said NOTHING about the parts in the pump and I got to the “More comments” button and was about to go back to google but I pushed the button and yours was about the third one down and I really appreciated you writing TINY STEEL BALL in capitals because I think I would’ve missed it. My struggle is now ended. :)

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    frollarddchall8

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    One thing you can do if the plunger gets a bit sticky, use a little more water, and add some glycerine (available from the pharmacy), only a half teaspoon or so should do the trick. "When you refill that way is the foam really soft like a brand new foam pump, or is it just like thos bubbles you get when you clean dishes :-\ ?" No, it comes out like shaving cream.

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    loveangel94frollard

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I just stumbled across your site. I had a foam soap dispenser and wanted to use some liquid hand soap that my son bought me for Christmas in it. I have seen the dispensers in the catalogs that will let you do that but wanted to see if my foam dispenser from the store would work. It did but not very well. I read your tips here and tried them and now I have a foam dispenser that works with liquid hand soap. Thanks for the wonderful tips. My son is always buying me liquid hand soaps as a gift and love the foam soap. It sure beats paying the price of the foam soap refill. Also I can use other soaps as well. I love the scents you can get with the liquid hand soaps in the different stores especially at Christmas time. :)

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    CherylC95

    10 months ago

    I make my own soaps and foaming soaps, doing this recipe I find that the soap still settles, then won't pump out again until it's shook up, which makes it very annoying. I do this with my dawn foamy soap though in the kitchen using about 1" of dawn in the refill soap dispenser then hot water, be sure to leave a good 1" from the top free or more, as it needs air to pump too. I wish hand soaps stayed mixed as well

    So are u saying basically that we r being ripped off by the foam soap cos. since it is diluted, watered down soap, which btw, they charge more 4?!

    2 replies
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    TheOtherJimCarlos AlbertoG

    Reply 2 years ago

    The cost of shipping things depends on two variables: Volume and weight. The "foaming soap refill" stuff is just soap (detergent, really) diluted with water. Remove the extra water and you have both less volume and less weight. So when you buy that refill, you're mostly paying for someone else to ship a larger container that weighs more simply because it has extra water. You're not really being ripped off, but what you're paying extra for is not necessary.

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    DawsonEvie

    2 years ago

    Soap plays very important role in our life. Soap prevent fro m germs.

    4 parts warm water into the bottle (warmth aids mixing)

    1 part soap into the bottle (soap 2nd prevents foaming)

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    HelenT18

    2 years ago

    1 to 4 ratio of soap (Softsoap) to water was perfect. The trick is to shake it so the soap mixes with the water and becomes uniform. Saving money on every squirt :)

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    spark master

    2 years ago

    used the soap from old dispenser water it down to 3 parts water 1 part soap. FABULOUS, cheap cheap cheap

    to you and all those who did their version of this instructable, it works great!

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    jennyjorm

    2 years ago

    I read somewhere else to use baby wash and then add the water. Love DIY <3

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    applejuice

    10 years ago on Introduction

    I have found that watering down Dr Bronners liquid castile soap works great diluted in an old foam soap dispenser. No SLS, makes the soap go further, and my kids find it much easier to rinse off than conventional hand soap. :)

    4 replies
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    ed409applejuice

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I too use Dr Bronners peppermint soap in my foamer. The result is soooooo nice!