Ever Wonder What Happens to Half-Used Hotel Soap?

Every day millions of bars of soap and half-used bottles of shampoo are discarded in hotel shower trays around the world; abandoned by guests who didn’t stay long enough to use them up.

After a guest checks out, housekeeping will clean the room. All leftover soap, lotion, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner will be brought down to the laundry and divided into totes. When those totes are full they are sealed up and shipped to clean the world foundation. Then they are all sanitized, made into new bars of soap, put into a hygiene kit, then sent to other countries.

In the case of Clean the World—a nonprofit dedicated to sending that soap around the world where it’s most needed—there are 5,000 hotel partners who donate barely used soap bars. The soap bars are scraped off, melted down and made new again. Then, the bars are shipped to a network of 115 countries for children who may not have access to soap otherwise.

Because those children will also learn how to properly wash their hands using that reborn bar of soap, they have a 65 percent better chance of surviving respiratory and diarrheal diseases that are prevalent in those areas, yet easily preventable with proper hygiene.

Clean the World is the brainchild of Shawn Seipler, a former sales executive who traveled extensively and wondered what happened to the unused soap. He founded the company in a one-car garage in 2009 after learning that most of them were thrown away.