Hotel Toiletries for Travellers: Great Things You Need to Know

As a traveller, are you aware that there is a lot of information that you need to know about your hotel toiletries? They are not merely items given by the hotel for you to consume. They are hotel brand ambassadors, they are travel lifesavers, and they are regular hygiene items you probably didn’t know someone out there direly needs.

While each hotel brand has its own list of toiletries that it provides, there are essential items that must always be present in a hotel bathroom. These include soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste. The list can also be extended to include shower caps, razors and cotton buds. 

Given that they are all inside your bathroom for you to use, have you ever wondered if these toiletries are complimentary? Is it alright to bring them home? What happens to toiletries that are not fully consumed? Let’s answer these valid questions as we move along.

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Bulgari Toiletries of Shangrila Istanbul Hotel
Bulgari toiletries of Shangrila Istanbul Hotel

But first, let’s clarify one point: toiletries vs. amenities – what is the difference?

Amenities in general are items and services which are provided by the establishment with the aim of taking care of all the needs that can potentially arise during a guest’s stay. When we talk about toiletries, we are referring to amenities or items which are specifically located in the bathroom. 

What toiletries are provided in a hotel as a standard?

There are ten toiletries that are provided in a hotel as a standard. These are:

  1. Body soap
  2. Shampoo
  3. Conditioner
  4. Bar soap
  5. Toothbrush
  6. Toothpaste
  7. Body lotion
  8. Shower cap
  9. Razor
  10. Cotton buds

Some hotels, depending on their classification, will extend the essentials and add more toiletries to your room. This may include a nail file, a mending kit and a shoe mitt.

Are hotel toiletries complimentary?

Yes, hotel toiletries are complimentary. By virtue, it is “free” because you do not have to pay anything extra to be able to use them, but in reality, the cost of all toiletries you are projected to be normally using during your stay has already been factored in your room rate.

Because they are complimentary, you can freely ask your room attendant for replenishment of these items if needed.

Can you take hotel toiletries?

Yes, you can take hotel toiletries with you upon check out. While they are meant for you to consume during your stay, taking the rest of the unused hotel toiletries with you is generally not frowned upon.

This is one of the reasons why hotels give time (and budget) to the conceptualization of the hotel toiletries that will carry their brand in the bathroom – and beyond. On websites, you will read about this or that hotel that has pleasant-smelling, high-end or eco-friendly toiletries, and that is efficient marketing for them! Guests tend to remember hotels that excel (and fail) in this detail.

Exceptional hotel toiletries are meant to give you the utmost feeling that you are not at home where your usual big pumps of dependable and well-loved brands reside. You are somewhere luxurious, as suggested by that L’Occitane bar soap on the counter and that Peter Morrissey sea blossom tube collection.

What even adds to your delight is the idea that you are getting these thoughtful amenities for free.

However, it is not a secret that these hotel toiletries, although complimentary, have been embedded into your cost of stay per night. So, by knowing so, do you just take and take hotel toiletries? The key is in knowing when you’re already taking excessively and unnecessarily.

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“The Talk” regarding hotel toiletries

As travellers, here is what you need to know regarding hotel toiletries that go way beyond consumption.

First, more and more of us are asking what happens with half-used soaps and still-enough toothpastes that we leave behind? Your guess is as good as mine: they add to our landfills.

As reputable hotels strive hard to give each guest a pleasurable experience, they are left with the challenge of disposing toiletries which, in truth, can still be used – by the same person, that is. You would not want to be welcomed in a four-star hotel with half a soap and a quarter of a toothpaste, right?

Good thing some (but not all) hotel establishments who have the connections (and budget) to do so have devised ways on how to efficiently dispose of hotel toiletries. Here are two notable organizations who are making sure that toiletries are repurposed:

  • Soap Aid -”a not-for-profit organisation committed to saving children’s lives through improved hygiene while positively impacting the environment.” In partnership with the accommodation industry, Soap Aid is able to recycle leftover soaps and distribute them to those who are in need of hygiene products in Australa and beyond.
  • Back to Base Soap Recycling Program – Leftover HealthPak soaps, which are biodegradable, are taken back by the manufacturer so they can be “converted into Bio Diesel and biodegradable industrial cleaners.”

Another talk that is happening regarding hotel toiletries is a guest’s tendency to request for more. As long as you are not raiding the housekeeper’s cart literally and figuratively, it is generally OK to ask for extra and then bring home some hotel toiletries. 

An adage to keep in mind: “Take only what you need, the rest is only a burden.”

Can you donate hotel toiletries?

If we are talking about unused hotel toiletries, yes you can donate them! Just keep in mind that these items have their expiration dates, too. Check each item before giving it away for donation. Further in the article, we list down some organization types that may be accepting toiletries donations.

The Resource Center of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul enumerates the unused hotel toiletries that are most needed today:

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Soap and Shower Gel
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
  • Shaving Cream 
  • Deodorant
  • Floss
  • Feminine Hygiene Products

If we are talking about slightly-used toiletries, a better way to donate them is by allowing the hotel to properly segregate the items for collection, disinfection and then repurposing. This is possible if the hotel you are staying at has this eco-friendly initiative regarding hotel toiletries.

Where to donate your unused hotel toiletries

Here are some types of organizations where you can donate your unused hotel toiletries:

  • Homeless shelters
  • Veteran health centers
  • Refugee centers
  • Military operations
  • Religious centers
  • People in need in your local community

One particular organization that works across the UK is aiming to help people easily donate unused (and even used) hotel toiletries. They are the Toiletries Amnesty.

“Our mission is to alleviate hygiene poverty while reducing waste by connecting donors to the places and people that need these products the most.” Toiletries Amnesty

You can check their growing directory of organizations that receive hotel toiletries donations. There are community centres, food banks, churches and other different types of groups that have partnered with Toiletries Amnesty in their mission to alleviate hygiene poverty.

Eco-friendly hotel toiletries

Here are some initiatives that hotels have taken in their desire to be more eco-friendly:

  • Switching to refillable dispenser bottles

A number of hotel establishments are now switching to refillable dispenser bottles when it comes to shampoo, conditioner and body wash. This eliminates the use of multiple single-use or even recyclable containers that come in small sizes – basically containing a day’s worth of lather.

What’s the catch? Toiletries that come in small dedicated containers are more hygienic. The hotel staff must be able to refill the goods hygienically. Guests, too, must be responsible dispenser users.

  • Biodegradable substitutes to plastic materials in toiletries

The toothbrush handle, the toothpaste tube, the comb in itself… Plastic has dominated a lot of hotel toiletries today. However, we are given a lot of eco-friendly options right now such as bamboo toothbrush, tooth powder and wooden hair comb.

What’s the catch? There are two on top of my mind: one, it is more expensive to switch to these substitutes; two, not every guest is easily willing to give up on what is familiar to them.

  • Supplying hotel toiletries containing green ingredients 

Hotel bathroom amenities bearing the internationally-recognized labels such as EU EcoLabel, Nordic EcoLabel, ECO CERT, BioCosmetique, Fairtrade and EcoPure are eco-friendly toiletries that are part of the environmentally sustainable amenity solutions being embraced by establishments.

What’s the catch? Greenwashing is a sensitive topic nowadays.

  • Encouragement of guests to bring home their used toiletries

What’s the catch? The success of this initiative lies in the management’s capability to motivate guests in bringing home their half-used soaps, shampoos, etcetera. See how the Goodie Bag aims to persuade.

How long do hotel toiletries last?

Unless indicated otherwise, hotel toiletries have a minimum of one-year shelf life. This may be less when it comes to eco-friendly items that have natural ingredients and little to no preservatives.

Here is a rough guide to the expiration period of standard toiletries:

Body soap and bar soapUp to three years
Shampoo and conditionerUp to two years opened, three years unopened
ToothpasteUp to two years
Body lotionUp to three years

I hope that this blog post helps you to appreciate more the little toiletries that we can find in our hotel room when we travel. Be a mindful and responsible traveller by using your hotel toiletries wisely.

Hotel toilettries for travellers


Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British – Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our missions are to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas and travel guides for travellers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

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