Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The gift of Foaming Handsoap

Welcome to a new feature on my blog (okay, we all know I post very infrequently, so perhaps calling it a 'feature' should be considered tongue-in-cheek.) Money-Saving Tips!

Today's money-saving tip is all about foaming hand soap. If you have kids of just about any age, you know they have absolutely no concept of how much is too much. And using a pump-type handsoap can drive you crazy when you see how often they use WAY TOO MUCH. Not to mention that even if you do your own refills, it will still cost you mega $$ for all that soap. But I still prefer the pump soaps to regular bar soap, because it is STILL less messy, and I think most moms out there know exactly how fast a single bar can disappear into a sink full of milky-looking water.

So when I found the foaming hand soaps, I fell in love. Two or three pumps of foam looks impressive, but will not spread far enough to coat more than half the bathroom counter. And even when they miss most of the rinsing part of washing their hands, there is not enough left for more than one sticky/slimy door handle.

But, you say, isn't foaming hand soap mega $$ too, in the long run?
This is where the gift part comes in - refilling those containers. But they DON'T SELL refills for foaming hand soap. A major marketing failure on the part of the soap companies. Because when you buy the large refill containers for regular liquid hand soap, you get 10 times as many refills and save mega major $$$.

You still occasionally have to buy the original foam soap pumps. You will need at least 2 or 3 times as many jars as you use at any time to keep refills available, and the pumps eventually wear out (it is a little annoying when the pump does not spring back up). I keep about 8 extras in the hall closet to be switched out when one in the bathroom runs dry, and then I do a round of refills when the last full one gets grabbed. (As long as someone remembers to tell me they have grabbed the last full one!)

The secret refill procedure involves putting about a half inch of liquid soap in the bottom of the bottle. In the photo, the open bottle has about the right amount of soap in the bottom. Also pictured are the refill I used - less than $3 at Wal-mart! - and a brand new bottle I bought to replace one that wore out, with a many-times refilled one of another brand about half-full now.

After you have the soap, then fill with water to about an inch from the top - the pump takes up a bit of room at the top of the bottle. A handy towel wipes off the outside when I inevitably underestimate the size of the pump, and the bottles often need a wipe anyways after being used for so many dirty hands. Another handy tip - if you tilt the bottle when filling it, so that the stream from the tap hits the inside of the bottle and runs down, you won't end up with the bottle half-filled with foam - another mess-producing wipe-requiring problem.

The other part of the secret procedure requires letting the bottles sit for a day or more, at LEAST a few hours, before trying to use them. The liquid soap actually needs times to dissolve in the water, or else it will be too heavy for the pump and not come out as the foam you need. It is not an exact science, and sometimes my foam is a bit watery, or a bit too stiff, but generally it is a great solution, and a huge savings on my shopping bill.

When I get down to the end in the refill bottle, I usually try to eyeball the ratios and add enough water to create the right mix. After the waiting period, this can just be poured straight into an empty pump bottle. If I was really organized, I would keep enough empty refill bottles around to do the mix and the waiting period in them, but how much fun would life be if I was that much on the ball?

Have fun penny pinchers!