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Refillable or Non-Refillable Bathroom Dispensers – What is best for my hotel or motel?

By now you’re probably aware of the global dispenser movement that is happening in the hospitality industry as more and more hotels and motels are shifting away from the once favoured small single-use toiletries. With so many dispenser options hitting the market you’re probably finding it hard to work out which product is best for you.  

Should you use refillable dispensers or non-refillable dispensers? 

Let’s have a look at what the advantages and disadvantages are of each system so you can decide what will work best for your property. 

Refillable Dispensers 

Reduce your plastic waste: 

We all know that plastic is a problem and is causing huge damage to the environment. Recycling, whenever possible, has a positive impact on the planet as it prevents too many plastics from ending up in landfills. Because the dispensers are refilled multiple times it reduces the amount of waste produced by your hotel.   

Cost of product: 

Generally speaking, refillable dispensers are considered the cheaper choice because there is less packaging and you’re buying the liquid in larger volumes, but while the product cost itself may be seen as a cost-saver, there are other associated costs that will increase, such as labour.

Peace of mind: 

Since the bathroom dispensers are continuously refilled by your housekeeping team it means your guests always have what they need. This ensures their expectations have been met and gives them peace of mind that they won’t run out of product.  

Cost of labour to service:  

Refillable dispensers cost your team time and your business money because the refilling process has to be done manually. When it comes to refilling the dispensers it’s important your housekeeping team follow the best practices to ensure your guests are safe and the integrity of the product is upheld. Since the dispensers are located in the bathroom the damp, humid and warm environment is perfect for growing bacteria. This means the bottles need to be removed and taken to a sanitised area at the back of house where your team can manage the refilling process. With labour being at an all-time shortage this has to be seriously considered when it comes to staff scheduling, availability vs how much you’re willing to spend. 


Upholding good hygiene standards in your hotel plays a pivotal role in turning your guest's stay from average to amazing. Refillable dispensers are not as hygienic as Cartridge systems because during the refilling process, the bottle is opened, which increases the risk of bacteria and airborne germs contaminating the contents.  

Product quality:  

Guests typically come back when their stay is enjoyable and the products in the room are exceptional. While you may have the right steps in place to refill the bottles the product quality can be affected due to refilling soap on top of soap. Any new soap added to the dispenser is highly likely to become contaminated, continuing the unhealthy cycle. 


To follow best practices your housekeeping team should replace the dispenser bottles every 4 months. This is to minimise the risk of contamination and ensure the safety of your guests. This also means depending on your occupancy rates, the size of the dispensers and how much you are refilling the bottles the liquid contents may not be totally used after this period, which means you need to figure out how to dispose of the waste and bottles – and that isn’t always easy.


Presentation matters when you’re trying to create a superior guest experience and with refillable dispensers, you can run into some unwanted surprises. Like the appearance of the bottles becoming worn with dribbles and stains due to multiple refills. Guests define 'unclean' in different ways and unfortunately, this could be perceived as one of them.  

Guest perception & product integrity: 

Sometimes your guests wonder if the liquid in the dispenser is actually the same as what is stated on the label, and rightly so. Once the bottles require a top-up hotel and motel owners have the ability to go the cheaper route to save on costs. They can purchase a lower quality brand to replenish their stock but still present it to guests as the original. This not only compromises the integrity of the product but your guests could also end up in a nasty situation if they have any skin conditions or allergies.  


Unfortunately, it’s a sad reality that some guests want to meddle with the bathroom dispensers if they can be opened. This is a common concern among many of your visitors. When it comes to refillable dispensers the pump tops can be removed which means the product is not 100% tamper-proof and the scary thought of foreign contents being added is a possibility. You also have to consider the dispenser wall bracket systemyou’re using. While some options are tamper-proof others are easily accessible which can compromise your guest’s peace of mind. 

Non-Refill or Cartridge Dispensers: 

Labour saving:  

With the shortage of labour and the cost of labour being so high the time your housekeeping team save when using non-refillable dispensers is significant. Based on a 70% occupancy rate and depending on the product the bottle doesn’t need to be replaced anywhere between 4-12 weeks which is a big cost saving. 

Factory sealed:  

Sealed at the factory helps eliminate the possibility of outside contamination, foreign object ingress and vandalism. It also guarantees that the liquid inside is the bottle matches the label.   


Closed cartridge dispensers are hygienic because the air doesn’t enter the system at all, which lowers the risk of microbial contamination. There’s virtually no opportunity for bugs, germs or any other airborne contaminants to enter the soap, making the systems far more sanitary than bulk refill. 


One of the key factors to help you to instil trust among your hotel guests is ensuring strict safety standards are met. Providing clinically-approved dispensers and bracket wall-mounts that are 100% tamper-proof eliminates any concerns they may have around the integrity of the contents.    

Visual impact & presentation:  

To stand out the persona of your hotel should promise to deliver high value to your guests. Because the dispensers are replaced rather than refilled you won’t run the risk of the bottles becoming worn or tattered looking. Instead, the presentation of the product is always looking pristine when your guests arrive which creates a positive experience. 

Low setup costs:  

Depending on the dispenser setup you purchase the accompanying wall bracket system could be provided for free which means your setup costs are lower. It’s a win-win because who doesn’t love a deal and who doesn’t love to save? 

Risk of product running out:  

If housekeeping doesn’t replace the cartridge your guests could have an unwelcome surprise halfway through their shower. Rather than running the risk of making your guests feel disappointed or frustrated, this can be easily overcome by having the right in-house procedures in place.

Cost of product: 

The cost of the non-refillable dispensers is higher however the amount of time you save on labour far outweighs the cost of the product.  

More plastic waste:  

Since the bottles are not reused multiple times it means there is more plastic waste generated by your property. However, using The Hotel WEKA, which is an end-to-end recycling program, overcomes this issue. To support sustainability efforts  The Hotel WEKA stops the used plastic dispenser bottles from going into the sea or landfills.   

In Summary: 

Here’s what we’ve found in a nutshell. 

If you’re looking to spend less money on your bathroom amenities refillable dispensers are typically considered the lower-cost option. However, it is important to remember that while the product itself may be seen as an initial cost-saver there are other associated expenditures that will increase over time, such as labour. 

Non-refillable on the other hand are a little more costly but greatly save you and your housekeeping team time and money in the long run. Also, one of the biggest things to consider is that non-refillable dispensers are much more hygienic than refillable ones. Upholding good hygiene standards to ensure your guest’s safety is always a primary goal and this type of dispenser easily helps you achieve this. And if you have concerns about producing additional plastic waste The Hotel WEKA makes recycling so easy your team will thank you, plus it’s a great story to share with your guests.


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About the author

Sabrina Justen

Sabrina is a seasoned digital marketing manager with 10+ years of B2B & B2C experience in the tech and SaaS space. She is focused on building and implementing strategies that innovate, create awareness, and generate demand. Sabrina executes brand/product development through strategic alignment, passion, resolute focus, and inspired teams.