How-To Guide for Shopping at Soap Refill Stores

by Kendall Haechten

Shopping at a soap refill store can be an economical and eco-friendly way to get the products you need. You can save money by refilling your empty containers and reducing the amount of packaging waste you generate. Learn more about how to navigate a soap refill store and get the most out of your shopping experience.


What is a Soap Refill Store?

Also known as a refillery or a refill station, soap refill stores are relatively new concepts but are gaining momentum quickly across the United States. Refill stores sell home goods such as soap, household cleaners, and laundry detergents in bulk. This allows you to bring your own container and pay a fraction of the cost. The reason people enjoy shopping at soap refill stores other than the cheaper cost is because it is a more eco-friendly option due to the need for packaging is eliminated.

How to Shop at A Low Waste Refill Store

Research the Refill Shop Before You Go.

In order to get the most out of your trip to the refill store, it's best to see what products they offer ahead of time so that you can be prepared. Some refill stores offer containers on site that you can purchase and then have filled. Other stores only offer the refills themselves. Knowing what types of products are offered and what containers they require will make your shopping trip much easier and more enjoyable!

Bring the Right Containers for Refilling.

Before heading to the soap refill store, make sure you have the right containers for refilling. This means having clean and dry containers ready to fill up with the various soaps and liquids and other items the refill store has offer. Make sure they have a secure lid or cap and also check if they must fit specific sizes. Also consider bringing a few extra containers just in case you want to stock up.

Examine Ingredients and Labels Carefully.

One of the most important things to remember when shopping at a soap refill store is to examine ingredients and labels carefully. Be sure to check what kinds of ingredients the soap or liquid contains and whether there are any potential allergic reactions or risks associated with those ingredients.

Also, be sure to take note of any how-to-use labels associated with products like cleaning concentrates and laundry detergents. These types of products often have specific instructions on how they are best used so snapping a photo of the label with your phone is a great idea to keep the instructions handy!

The Refill Store Buying Process

Most refill stores operate in the same general way whether you bring your own container or purchase one of theirs. The basic buying procedure is as follows:

  1. Weigh your empty container and make a note of the weight.
  2. Fill your container.
  3. Weigh the filled container and make a note of the weight.
  4. Pay for the filled amount of each container minus the weight recorded in step 1 at checkout.

What containers are best to bring to a refill store?

There are many options when it comes to the best containers to bring with you on your trip to the refill station. Depending on what types of refills you are shopping for, we can help you choose the best refill containers.

Soap and Lotion Refills

The best types of containers for soap and lotion refills are glass dispenser bottles with pumps. You can choose from blank dispenser bottles to aesthetically pleasing dispensers that match you kitchen or bathroom hardware. For most soaps and lotions, a pump with a capacity of at least 2cc will be able to handle the majority of soaps and lotions available. All of the pumps we offer at Hardeman Home are capable of handling the vast majority of liquid soaps and lotions available.

It is important to keep in mind that foaming soaps require a specific foaming pump so be sure that your dispenser bottle is equipped with the proper pump based on what you're shopping for.

Liquid Laundry Detergent Refills

When shopping for liquid laundry detergent refills, you are going to want a container that is at least 32 ounces, however, a 64 ounce container would be best. If you do a quick google search for laundry detergent pumps, you will find lots of containers with either a pump or spigot. Both are great options to house and dispense your laundry detergent easily.

Household Cleaner Refills

Many refill stores offer bulk refills of household cleaners such as all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, and tile cleaner. The best container to bring for these refills are glass spray bottles. The beauty of shopping at a refill store is the low waste environmental impact. By placing the refill directly into the container or dispenser that you intend to use, you're greatly reducing the use of single use plastic!

Dry Bulk Refills

Aside from all of the liquid refills that many refill shops offer, there are also plenty of dry goods available for bulk refills. Laundry detergent powder, dish detergent tablets, and toilet cleaner tablets are just a few that come to mind. Glass canisters with a secure lid are a great option to house these types of items.

The Benefits of Shopping at Zero Waste Refill Store

Low Environmental Impact

Shopping at a zero or low waste refill store has many benefits including reduced waste and environmental impact. For example, when you shop for a bottle of dish soap at a big box store you're purchasing something that has been packaged, shipped in more packaging, and then placed in a bag for you to take home. At a soap refill store, you cut out all of that extra packaging because you're shipping directly from the source.

Clean Ingredients

As mentioned before, soap refill stations are focused on a healthy environmental impact which also extends into the products they offer. The refills offered at most refill stores are non-toxic and free of all of the unnecessary and harmful chemicals that are often found in mainstream soaps, lotions, detergents, and household cleaners.

Lower Cost

As mentioned before, one of the benefits to shopping at a refill store is the reduced packaging. This often translates to reduced cost that the supplier incurs which is passed onto the customer in exchange for purchasing in bulk.

Is shopping at a refill store right for you?

If you're curious about giving a bulk refill store a try, you should consider it. Many people find that the low waste environmental impact, health benefits, and cost savings outweigh the trouble of making a trip to a refill shop.

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