Bulk dispenser nozzle
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Bulk Dispensers For Bathroom Amenities Can Be Disgusting.

Nuzzle that nozzle?

As an increasing number of hotel and resort properties in recent years have been replacing individual single use small bottles and tubes of toiletries and amenities — which are designed to be used per guest — in the bathrooms of guest rooms with bulk dispensers which are mounted on the walls of those bathrooms, the chances of encountering them while traveling increases as well…

Bulk Dispensers For Bathroom Amenities Can Be Disgusting.

…which also obviously means that more guests will use them.

When the Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis hotel property opened recently, I was not only the first guest to check into that hotel property; but I was also the first guest ever for that brand. Although an article reviewing that hotel property is in development, one of the advantages of being the first guest is that the bulk dispensers had never been used by anyone else at all.

Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Look at how clean are the nozzles to the bulk dispensers of Apotheke shampoo, conditioner, and bath gel based on plants — with the contents manufactured in Brooklyn, mind you…

…but other nozzles are not quite so clean, as I encountered on a recent stay at a hotel property.

Bulk dispenser nozzle
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Sometimes a gooey congealed blob of whatever is being pumped will come out; while other times, the product — which is usually shampoo, conditioner, or body wash or body gel — is dried and caked to the area around the opening of the nozzle. Sometimes the product might not come out at all because some part of the pump mechanism is clogged. One might also encounter a bulk dispenser that was in service past its useful life span to sport a nozzle which is corroded in some way — or a part of the pump mechanism might leak…

Wall Dispenser Bottles
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

…and sometimes, the product which is advertised on the label is not the product which comes out of the nozzle — if any product comes out at all, as nothing was in the shower gel bulk dispenser on the left in the photograph shown above.

When informed of the issue, the employee behind the front desk cheerfully supplied a new bottle of shower gel — but she warned that it was in a container which was meant for conditioner

Wall Dispenser Bottle
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

…and looking closely at the top of the bottle, the white residue of conditioner can be seen in a bulk dispenser which was refilled with clear yellow shower gel.

Advantage: Bulk Dispensers Versus Small Bottles and Tubes

The advantages of bulk dispensers versus small bottles and tubes of toiletries and amenities include:

  • Less liquid product is wasted — guests can use as much or as little as desired
  • Reduced amount of trash in terms of the number of used plastic bottles, tubes and boxes which are disposed
  • Significantly more economical for each hotel and resort property as a measure of saving money — including fewer purchases and recycling small bottles can potentially be costly
  • Less time for housekeeping to prepare the room
  • Small bottles and tubes already used by other people may not be replaced with fresh product; whereas the product inside of bulk dispensers can be considered untouched by other people
  • More counter and sink space for guests
  • Bulk dispensers contain more product for guests with long hair; while small bottles and tubes may not contain enough product

Advantage: Small Bottles and Tubes Versus Bulk Dispensers

The advantages of small bottles and tubes of toiletries and amenities versus bulk dispensers include:

  • Wall dispenser could be rendered useless if it falls off of the wall; is broken; or is simply not functional due to lack of proper maintenance
  • Dispensing product can be more difficult than necessary — such as pumping numerous times just to use enough product
  • Housekeeping staff must be called if bulk dispenser was never refilled
  • Guests can potentially tamper with wall dispensers, depending on their designs
  • Potential contamination of germs with the number of people who use wall dispensers if they are not cleaned or disinfected properly
  • Guests can take small bottles or tubes of unused products with them, as they are convenient for traveling
  • Greater than ten million people benefited from the Clean the World Foundation, which integrates used soap — which would otherwise be discarded — and integrates it with a comprehensive water, sanitation and hygiene program
  • As with other environmental measures, bulk dispensers are touted to guests as environmentally friendly when really the main focus may be to save the hotel or resort property money

Just Another Way to Reduce Costs For the Good of the Environment?

Bulk dispenser Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fulton
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Marriott International, Incorporated already started switching to larger bottles situated in racks mounted on the walls of rooms in 450 hotel and resort properties at five different brands; and intended to expand to 1,500 hotel and resort properties in North America by January of 2019 — while InterContinental Hotels Group introduced bulk dispensers mounted on walls in the rooms of hotel and resort properties at four different brands in 2018.

As I first noted in this article which I wrote on Sunday, May 6, 2018 with regard to the initiative to save plastic as part of the Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction of Marriott to refresh sustainability and social impact efforts by 2025, “Environmentally, the program is expected to save an average of 250 lbs. of plastic per year for a 140-room hotel — approximately 23,000 plastic bottles”, according to this article written by Robin McLaughlin of Lodging Magazine. “Replacing small plastic bottles with the dispenser also positively impacts owners’ bottom lines, saving between $1,000 to $2,000 per year.”

Are these lodging companies truly concerned about the environment — or are they using these initiatives simply to improve their financial bottom line? Perhaps the answer is both are true — and if so, is that wrong?

Final Boarding Call

Somehow, I believe that when the amenities are in bulk wall dispenser bottles, members of the housekeeping staff at hotel and resort properties seem to be more lax in ensuring that they are properly cleaned and functional — let alone refilled — yet they seem to be more diligent in ensuring that guests had the amenities they needed when they are in single-use bottles.

Do you really know exactly with what those bulk dispenser bottles which are mounted on the walls are filled — or even if they have been cleaned?

One simple solution — other than wetting a washcloth or a tissue and simply wiping the rogue nozzle — is to carry a small alcohol wipe to clean the nozzles.

Admittedly, a nozzle of a bulk dispenser which is less than ideally clean and fully functional is not exactly the end of the world — but it can be done by members of the housekeeping staff, who are likely no longer cleaning and servicing every room every day as they generally did prior to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

Most of the bulk dispensers I have found in the bathrooms at hotel properties are manufactured from a material known as — you guessed it — plastic. My personal experience with plastics suggests to me that although plastic may take many decades to break down biologically, its useful life is significantly shorter. What do you think management at a hotel or resort property will do once a bulk dispenser malfunctions and is no longer functional?

I am a believer in a number of issues: reducing the amount of intervention by governments whenever possible without reducing the efficacy of protecting consumers; ensuring that we conserve the consumption of products so that there is enough to go around for everyone; and protecting the environment as much as reasonably possible…

…but although bulk dispensers attached to walls in the bathrooms of lodging establishments could work in some cases, I am opposed to that being the norm for the reasons which were described in this article.

Regardless of whether a hotel property uses bulk dispensers or small bottles and tubes of amenities is not going to significantly affect my trip either way. All I care about when I am a guest in a hotel room is that I am clean, comfortable, relaxed and refreshed while I am traveling.

My preference is to have the choice of whether or not I want the small containers of toiletries — as long as those containers are constructed of recyclable materials so that I may dispose of them properly when I am finished with them — but I am likely in the minority regarding that opinion.

Other articles pertaining to bulk dispensers, plastic waste, and recycling include:

All photographs ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

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