today’s million dollar idea

today’s million dollar idea, for the benefit of the companies that make hotel soaps.

compare the size of a typical, budget hotel’s soaps to those you probably buy. your average bar of ivory soap, for instance. the retail version fits comfortably in the hand and is designed to last through many showers and still retain its shape and usefulness.

hotel soap, on the other hand, is designed to last through only one or two washings, then be thrown away. this it does admirably – the part about being thrown away.

its size and shape, being a miniaturized version of a real bar of soap, is cumbersome and borders on uselessness. it’s nigh impossible to get a good lather up. and if you drop it, there’s a good chance it will cling to the bottom of the bath resisting all attempts to recover it, or get washed down the drain entirely.

there are some hotels, though – higher-priced ones generally – that eschew the tiny soaps in favor of slightly larger, less cumbersome “specialty” soaps. these are generally the kinds of soaps you might find in a boutique, some are even “hand made”. they’re the more expensive cousins of the motel 6 soaps mentioned above, but they’re still flawed.

consider that these bars of soap can withstand multiple washings, but are usually thrown out after just one. that’s pretty wasteful, even for a luxury hotel.

the solution, and my million-dollar (can you tell i came up with this one in the shower) idea is this:
make hotel soaps full-sized. the same size and shape as the soap most people use at home. brilliant! right… but more wasteful than ever.

the tricky part is this: only put soap on the outside. just enough for one or two showers. within this layer of soap lies a soap-bar-shaped block of filler, designed to provide the heft and shape of a “real” bar of soap. the filler can be made of something recyclable or biodegradeable. better yet, so that the hotels’ trash isn’t filled with the things and the cleaning staff doesn’t have to bother even touching used soap (a serious health hazard, to be certain), make the filler water soluble. hotel guests finish with their shower and leave the soap in the bottom of the tub, there to be washed down the drain by housekeeping as part of their cleaning routine.

in the end, the soap manufacturers can use their existing retail packaging, molds, and eqipment instead of a separate line just for mini-soaps. the hotels that use expensive products can continue to offer the boutique soaps, but waste less of their soap budget throwing away a week’s worth of unused soap for every day’s showering.

all so i can take a shower in a hotel and not have to scramble on all fours, trying to pry up a tiny, reticent minibar of slimy, cheap soap.

johnson & johnson: you’re welcome.


  1. how about a shower gel dispenser, forget the soap bar altogether, liquid’s the future

  2. better yet, as in a car wash where you dial in what you want, in the shower could be a knob with settings for rinse, body wash, shampoo, and finally a conditioner setting. this would eliminate a multitude of tiny products and their respective wrappers and boxes plus housekeeping would not have to spend [valuable?] time focusing on these toiletries because the toiletries would now be pumped to each room via hoses all connected to vats in the basement.

  3. nice. should post this on halfbaked.

    They have a variation of this for kid’s soap and joke soaps… where they have a hidden toy buried in the middle of the soap (think archeology lesson wrapped in basic hygiene) or with joke soap, bugs or a glop of ink/goo and what not…

    BUT, take your millionair idea a bit further and you can $ELL marketing promotional ad-space within each bar of soap! so, you wrap a Ford oval logo or Apple logo in the middle of that apple-lemon scented soap and get instant marketing buzz after each shower.

    I’ll be glad to share the percentages of ad revenue from this. Added bonus, a soap craze will be born for these logo bar soaps which will sell on the secondary market via eBay as surprise soap or collectible soap. slightly used collectible soap, one of a kind. starting bid…

  4. I can only manage to lather one limb with hotel soap before snapping the bar in half. I always bring my own soap for this very reason.

    Maybe there should be a prize (fortune, lucky numbers, tokens, parking validation, etc.) in the middle of the soap to encourage people to bathe more on vacation.