What To Do With Unused Hotel Toiletries
August 28, 2019
Simple items needed to DIY travel toiletries for homeless

Help the homeless with unused hotel toiletries What To Do With Unused Hotel Toiletries: Travel With A Cause

If you're like me, you compulsively collect the travel-size bottles of fancy shampoo and lotions from your hotel stays. Until you've amassed a huge collection. So, what should we do with those unused hotel toiletries?

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Travel With A Cause

Clear toiletry bag with unused hotel toiletries

While embarking on a two week vacation this summer I happened to hear a plea on the radio for backpacks and travel toiletries for The Road Home, a local homeless shelter. So I happily stashed the hotel amenities each morning to be greeted by a whole new set each night.

Many large hotels participate in programs like Clean The World that recycle their toiletries for humanitarian purposes. But most do not and your partially used or totally untouched shampoo goes to the landfill. Travel with a cause and stick those babies into your bag to do a little good while you're having fun. {Is that starting to sound familiar!?}

What Toiletries Do Hotels Provide?

Unused Hotel Toiletries for homeless shelters

Depending on the hotel you'll probably get shampoo, lotion, and a bar of soap. Nicer hotels offer body wash, conditioner, shower caps, and q-tips. Some even offer complimentary make up remover or sewing and shoe shine kits.

Can You Take Unused Hotel Toiletries? 

Hygiene kit with unused hotel toiletries for homeless

But is it ok to just TAKE?

Some of you “rule followers” might be uncomfortable with the idea of taking anything from the hotel. I get it, I am one. But you've already paid for it and they don't care if you use it or stash it.

Anything from the standard shampoo and body wash to cotton balls and Q-tips, IF they offer it, the hotel is required to replace it daily. And if you DON'T use it, they most likely toss it.

Just don't raid the hospitality cart and blame it on me! Thanks.

How Can I Help If I Don't Travel Much?

Waterproof labels on DIY travel toiletries for homeless shelter

Unused hotel toiletry stashes are GREAT for business travel or extended vacations but what about the rest of us who still want to help?

Travel sized toiletries run between $1-2.69 in most stores but that adds up quickly. For this project, the dollar store is your best friend and allows you to create several affordable hygiene kits that really make an impact.

DIY Travel Sized Toiletries 

Simple items needed to DIY travel toiletries for homeless

Travel Toiletry DIY Supplies:

*Toothbrush note: If you use a Sonicare Toothbrush, like I do, you aren't using the toothbrushes from the dentist and they tend to pile up. This is a great way to utilize all those extras. {My Sonicare is waay better than the Oral-B my hubs uses just as an FYI}

**Toothpaste note: I was irritated to note a travel size toothpaste was $1.29 but I could get a full size tube for 86 cents. If budget is a concern, shop around and be smart. The more you save the more you can help.

Fill Up Your Bottles

Filling a bottle for DIY travel toiletries to donate to homeless

The soaps typically come in squeeze or pump bottles making it really easy to portion into the travel containers. So easy my kiddos (9yo & 7yo) helped do nearly ALL of them.

DIY travel toiletries for the homeless

I'd be lying if I said I didn't choose the shampoo based on color! Doesn't that look pretty all lined up? They smell nice too. That's a big factor for me. Doesn't matter how well it works if I can't stand the smell.

DIY Travel Bottle Labels

Waterproof labels for DIY travel toiletries

The one thing missing on these bottles is a label, but just any old label will smear and come off in the shower. So I found waterproof label paper and made my own. I opted for full page labels so I could adjust the size myself. Just print, cut, then apply.

The labels add to the cost but you'll be able to use them for lots of other future projects. I only factored in the cost of the single sheet I used for this project.

Package Hygiene Kits

DIY Hygiene kits and backpacks for the homeless

Packaging up hygiene kits in Quart Size Ziploc bags is perfect depending on your toothbrush size. Then add them to backpacks. I found a great Back to School sale at Winco Foods with backpacks for $5.98! Keep an eye out in August and stock up when you can!

Blessing bags for the homeless can provide lots of things including food, socks, and books, but these simple hygiene kits take care of the basics and we chose to keep it simple and make:

  • TWELVE hygiene kits for under $35 {or the cost of one family lunch out}
  • TWELVE backpacks for $72 {or the cost of one nice family dinner out}

Sometimes you have to choose between helping ONE person a lot, or a DOZEN people a little. Ultimately it's up to you.

Woman's Hygiene Kit

Feminine hygiene kit and toiletry bag for homeless shelter

After speaking with the volunteers at the Food Bank and having them talk about women who weep over feminine hygiene items I've made it a personal goal to help out my fellow sex. So we now add tampons, pads, razors, and deodorant to at least half the bags we donate.

It seems a small thing for us, but it can made a huge impact for someone's life this month.

Where Can I Donate My Personal Care Items?

Now that it's packaged up and ready to go, where are you going to take it?

  • Homeless Shelters are always in need and I especially like to support Family Shelters
  • The Salvation Army
  • Battered Women's Shelters
  • Refugee Centers
  • Local Title 1 Schools
  • An education organization like Salt Lake's Granite Education Foundation

Or keep a few in your car and pass it along to a person in need. Hopefully it'll be well received. Either way you'll know you did something to help a little. Who knew your unused hotel toiletries could provide a little hope? Give back a little dignity?

I know it can feel overwhelming, there is so much more needed than shampoo. But your kits will make a difference to that ONE person. And that makes all the difference.

Pin it for later

Donate unused hotel toiletries to homeless shelters

Please follow Parties With A Cause on Facebook and Instagram and tag us @partieswithacause so we can celebrate your service too!

*Another thing you can do is encourage your favorite hotel to join Clean The World if they haven't already.

More Ideas for Family Community Service

Until next time my friend! Signature and photo


  1. Jan

    Be sure that the blessing bags have food items that are high in protein, (peanut butter, vienna sausages, packaged tuna and crackers, packaged soups)and include a bottle of water. Another item that is greatly needed in cold weather are the cans of fuel (like the ones used to heat chafing dishes). The homeless use these to heat food and to keep warm with. Also, Walmart has small tents for $20. If you can afford to get one (or more) they are always in demand.

    • Brianna Adams

      Yes! That’s such a great idea. I hadn’t thought of giving the sternos or that I could find a tent so affordably. Thanks so much for the food reminders. We always donate those foods to the Food Bank but another awesome suggestion for the backpacks.

  2. Jackie

    We always have so many half used bottles. This is a great suggestion for giving back!

  3. Jennifer Digiacomo

    I think this is a genius idea and actually something I already put into practice. I add them into “blessing bags” for the homeless along with items like snacks and socks! Love that you and I share similar passions for charity!

  4. Susan

    Bri I never thought of this before ! What a wonderful way to not waste unused toiletries and give back

  5. Nathalie

    I love how you find a way to turn everything you do into an opportunity to help someone else. We need more of you in the world!

  6. Lori

    What a wonderful and thoughtful way to give!! It works be fun to collect these goodies at book club or any organization!

  7. Beth @FuntoEatFruit

    Great idea! I’m so glad you’ve posted this. I think I’ll ask my Mah Jongg group to bring their unused hotel toiletries to our next meeting and we’ll put together some hygiene kits to donate!

  8. Holly

    This is such a simple way to give back and so appreciated!


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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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