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Inspired by what I (and many others) thought this question would be about:

What happens to all the half-used (or more likely 5% used) soaps in hotel bathrooms?

You check into a hotel. You open a soap that's big enough to last you a fortnight. But you're only staying for two nights. What happens to it when you're gone?

Is it simply binned? Do the maids (and other staff?) take it home and never have to buy their own soap? Or is it recycled, melted down with all the other leftovers and used to create new ones? ("Melted" is almost certainly the wrong word, but "dissolved" sounded boring. And I don't make soap so I don't know if neither word is correct.) Is the International Maids Union secretly hoarding them all with the plan of one day unleashing them on tiled hotel corridors and making all the guests slip over?

(I'm almost certain they just get binned. But that's less fun than the alternatives.)

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    This is one reason why I bring my own soap with me when I travel. It allows me to work through a large bar of my own choice without feeling bad that I barely touched the soap from the hotel. – Peter M Jan 29 at 19:48
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    You can of course also take the soap with you when you go. – Tom Carpenter Jan 29 at 21:29
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    Damn you're staying at fancy hotels that give out 14 nights worth of soap. I usually barely get one night's worht. – Azor Ahai Jan 29 at 22:40
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    @AzorAhai You use way too much soap! I agree the shampoo and body wash is good for ~1.5 uses, all the soap I've seen should be good for at least 5 days. – user71659 Jan 30 at 0:52
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    @user71659 I was thinking of shampoo and body wash and hand soaps when I commented; not necessarily hard soap – Azor Ahai Jan 30 at 0:58
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In most cases it's just trashed, but there are some charities that do recycle hotel soaps.Telegraph CNN BBC

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    Many locales have regulations that require hotels to dispose of any partially-used consumable toiletries for sanitary reasons. That's why hotels have gone to the miniature rolls of toilet paper and everything packaged in its own individual bag/box. Waste minimization. If you opened it, you might as well take it home with you. – bta Jan 29 at 23:09
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    @bta They often leave it by the sink where even the unopened packages get splashed. I guess they also toss these? – Keith McClary Jan 30 at 2:08
  • @bta possibly. though a plastic bottle of shampoo may just be wiped off. – jwenting Jan 30 at 6:04
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    I believe a lot of hotels these days have moved away from disposable soap containers and instead have large soap pumps and shampoo bottles that are attached to the shower wall, both as an environmental measure and a cost savings measure. – Nzall Jan 30 at 12:41
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    @Nzall - I definitely see that in budget hotels, less so in medium/normal hotels. – AndyT Jan 30 at 15:56

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