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10 Ways to Make Use of Hotel Freebies

Updated on February 10, 2016

Put that collection of mini-everything to good use

I love staying in hotels. And one of the things that excite me the most is having a look in the bathroom to see what little bottles and other freebies are waiting for us there. When I was younger I had a huge collection of mini shampoos and body lotions I would never use, because I thought they were just too cute to open.

Now, in my more mature days, I still can't resist grabbing a few of these mini items. The difference is that I have now discovered how much space these little things actually take up, and how useful they are when you in fact... well, use them!

All photos are taken by me, except those provided by Amazon.

1) Use the conditioner to make a hair detangler spray

One that actually works!

I have unruly hair. Not your average difficult to make look nice hair, but dry, curly, fairy-knotted, want-to-cut-the-whole-thing-off every time I have to put a brush through it, frizzy-when-damp hair. It can look quite pretty on a good hair day, but my bad hair days are legendary. I used to spend an unthinkable sum of money buying detangle spray at hair salons (“This one is the best, I promise!”) every year, until I discovered I can actually make my own - for free. And it works just as well as anything else I have tried.

Here is how you do it:

- Get a small spray bottle (I use one I got in a travel set years ago, which means I can even take it on a plane if I want to).

- Squirt a small dash of conditioner from a mini-bottle into the spray bottle.

- Fill up almost to the top with water.

- Shake. Shake as if you are making yourself a martini.

- Done!

A whole new collection of freebies waiting for me in this hotel room...!
A whole new collection of freebies waiting for me in this hotel room...!

2) Multi-use bags as garbage bags for your purse - ...or your glove box.

For a long time I used to ignore the multi-use bags (often called sanitary bags), thinking they were only meant for used feminine hygiene products. It wasn’t until I accidentally opened one, believing it was the shower cap, that I discovered this particular one had a zip-lock function. Ideas started swirling around in my head, and I have come up what I personally believe is a genius way of using them!

My purse often fills up with all kinds of wrappers (you know, chocolate, gum, the usual suspects). Now I pop one of the hotel room multi-use bags into my purse, as a mini garbage bag where I dispose of all my on-the-go trash. Then when it is full, I simply throw the whole thing out, rather than having to dig through my purse to get at it. Phew!

You can also put one in the glove box of your car for the same purpose. No, you don't have to thank me. The appreciative look on your face and the nod of recognition is thanks enough. You're welcome.

kilofly Purse Insert Organizer, Expandable, Grey, with Handles
kilofly Purse Insert Organizer, Expandable, Grey, with Handles

Here is another way to keep your handbag organised and tidy – with a purse organiser from Kilofly. With multiple pockets and two zipper compartments, you can stay in control of even the smallest items in your hand bag, like chapsticks, pens and keys, as well as the bigger items.

With the handles you can easily transfer it from one handbag to another.

Available in grey and blue.


Do you take the freebies with you when you stay in hotels?

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3) Use when travelling - - Yes, I know this one is pretty obvious

These mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash are the perfect travel size. Take them with you when you go camping or for your getaway weekend to the cabin. You can take them with you on the plane, making them the perfect choice for when you are travelling with carry-on luggage only. Travel size bottles cost a small fortune, so why bother buying them when you get similar products for free?

In a pinch, you can even use shampoo as hand wash laundry detergent. I did this every day for two months when walking The Camino de Santiago, and it made my clothes clean and removed all unwanted smells. I do not recommend pouring shampoo into the washing machine though, so this is for hand wash only!

JAPONESQUE Handi Bottle Pack
JAPONESQUE Handi Bottle Pack

You can of course also invest in a set of travel size bottles and pour your preferred brand of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel into them, to get the same size bottles when on the go.

These come in a transparent pouch, which means you don't have to bother with the plastic zip lock bags at the airport.

This pack includes six bottles, including two flip-top bottles, two with a wide opening, one spray bottle and one dropper bottle. The pack also includes self-adhesive lables.

Use a shower cap to protect cosmetics while travelling
Use a shower cap to protect cosmetics while travelling

4) Use the plastic shower cap as a protector when packing your shoes

Or as extra protection around your cosmetics

Stop sand and dirt from your shoes from contaminating the rest of the things in your suitcase by packing your shoes in a shower cap. The elastic makes sure it will stay in place.

As you can see from this photo I also frequently use the shower caps to hold my cosmetics together and minimize the damage should one of them start leaking. I felt so clever when I came up with this!

5) Emergency stockpile

Oh no! Someone has used up the rest of the shampoo without telling you! What to do?

Well, here's what to do: you shake your head in disbelief as you walk out of the shower, water dripping everywhere, to open up your box of mini hotel freebies for a bottle of emergency shampoo. Crisis averted.

10 uses for your hotel freebies
10 uses for your hotel freebies

6) Make a scented moisturizing body mist - Using the body lotion

The way to make this is similar to the hair detangler above.

One squirt of body lotion into a small spray bottle, add two drops of preferred essential oil, and fill up with warm water to make it all dissolve. Shake well and you're done!

If you want a cooling spray, you can use essential oils like tea tree oil or eucalyptus.

For a calming spray, I use lavender, ylang ylang, and/ or chamomile.

7) Use the conditioner as a hair mask

No, trust me.

Odds are you wouldn't use a hotel conditioner on a daily basis. I know that my hair needs better care than that, so I actually put a lot of money into my shampoo and conditioner. However, if your hair needs a little extra boost, or if you are just going to have a home spa day, there is nothing wrong with using the hotel conditioner as a hair mask. Simply do this:

- Wash your hair as usual with your normal shampoo

- Squeeze out all excess water from your hair

- Apply hotel conditioner (I generally use two to three bottles for this, but then my hair is thick and curly and down to my waist, so you need to find out how much works for you)

- Either cover your hair with the hotel freebie plastic shower cap, or wrap it in a towel.

- Leave the conditioner in your hair while doing your other spa things. I usually leave it for anything between fifteen to sixty minutes, while shaving my legs, having a cup of tea, or wearing a face mask. I have even been known to clean the shower while wearing a hair mask and face mask, and not much else.

- Rinse your hair thoroughly.

- I often then apply my usual conditioner afterwards, and carefully brush through any knots in my hair with my fingers, before rinsing my hair again.

- Done!

8) Make a welcome basket for the guest bathroom

Make your guests feel welcome with a goodie basket. Add hotel items like mini bottles, soaps and a grooming kit, as well as an extra toothbrush, tooth paste and a sewing kit. I have acquired all of the above from different hotels - some more well equipped and generous than others.

Antique Style Small Wire Basket Shabby Chic Country Cottage Decor by Phuchema
Antique Style Small Wire Basket Shabby Chic Country Cottage Decor by Phuchema

At the moment we only have one of these wire baskets - usually standing on the kitchen counter with apples in it - to make our welcome baskets. But it works well, and I love the look and that we can also use it for something when we don't have guests.


9) Keep using the bottles after they are empty

- Refilling them with your regular shampoo and conditioner ensures that you will always have travel sized cosmetics lying around when you are packing in a hurry.

- You can also - after giving them a good clean - use them for dressings and pack them with your lunch box.

What to do with your collection of hotel freebies
What to do with your collection of hotel freebies

I love this display at the resort in Tahiti

Note the fresh flowers!

10) Make a foam bath!

Simply pour the mini bottles of shampoo and body wash into the tub while pouring your bath water. Pour it right under the faucet for the power of the water to make it foam as much as possible. Use as many bottles as you need to get the foam you want. I have used anything from two to six bottles for this (did I mention I used to have a big stash?).

A little piece of free luxury in your everyday life. What's not to love?

Do you have any more tips for us on how to use the hotel freebies? - Or do you feel like sharing something else, like what you had for breakfast?

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    • asereht1970 profile image


      4 years ago

      This is a fun lens. I found myself nodding my head in agreement to what you have written. Thanks for sharing.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      Hotels sure are loaded with freebies. Some fun ideas for use here.

    • Aibrean82 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @susan369: Ha ha! That sounds a little bit like me! I always take the pen from hotel rooms, as well as all those other things. But I draw the line at towels and bath robes. If we're not meant to take it, I don't. Even Ross was worse than me! I remember that episode so well!

    • Aibrean82 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @jerrybarndorf: There is a place my fiance and I really like to stay at which has lemon trees. We take 1-2 lemons every day for or stay and use them in our cooking when we come home. Okay --- I take them, while he is looking the other way...

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I once took 3 apples per day at Holiday Inn Express. My vacation was 4 days. When I got home I juiced the apples. My wife was really embarrassed I did this but it saved me one week worth of apples and if you think about it that didn't cause the hotel a thing compared to what I paid.

      Hotels today are trying to cut costs by providing soaps and shampoos in dispensers, not individual packets so my advice is bring clear plastics to get liquids soaps!

    • MarleMac profile image


      4 years ago from South Africa

      This is a Great Lens! I especially loved your "Just wanted to vote"! Great humorous read and some really cool ideas too. Thanks for coming up with this Ada! I've done some of these, but they're all inspiring for next time I can grab some (my stash is now depleted...sigh).

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 

      4 years ago

      Great lens! Never thought of using the showcap for shoes, I will from now on.

    • Kathryn Beach profile image

      Kathryn Wallace 

      4 years ago from Greenbank, WA, USA

      Simple + brilliant. Some of these are reminders, others are clever new ideas. Now to find an attractive container to make them available for guests. Why I never thought of this, I don't know. I certainly don't need them to fall out of my medicine cabinet every time I open it, like they do now. I think I've been saving for Armageddon or something...

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      This lens really made me smile! It brought back memories of that Friends episode when Ross tries to take everything from the hotel and and his suitcase overspills at the reception. My husband's like that - I'll send this lens to him to give him some tips. Just the other day, he attended a conference and at the end he collected all the pens left behind. So embarrassing!

    • evawrites1 profile image


      4 years ago

      No... I usually leave them there because I don't like them. But these are interesting ideas :)

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 

      4 years ago from Lakewood New York

      All very creative ideas, nice job here, I'll have to keep these in mind:)

    • profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 

      4 years ago

      Great ideas. Peach yogurt. :-) Seriously like how you thought outside the box on the plastic products!

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 

      4 years ago from Kentucky

      I like #9, the travel size bottle come in handy and I think reusing them is a great way to recycle something that may be overlooked!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      4 years ago from New Zealand

      Interesting information, you sure have got it down to a fine art what to do with all the freebies. As I have never stayed in a hotel, I had no idea that there was so much available. Thanks for sharing.

    • Aibrean82 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Excellent! My job here is done ;)

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      4 years ago from Arkansas USA

      You covered the subject very well! Now I want to go on a trip...


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