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Unusual toiletries bottles and containers


When it comes to toiletries I’m a big fan of decanting a little to last me for a few days and buy more at my destination. Fortunately there isn’t a specific product that I feel like I can’t run out of. And I have never get an allergic reaction from using products I’ve never used before.

Toiletry kits comes with big bottles that hold too much and I’ve been looking around for smaller containers that don’t break the bank. I just ordered small soy sauce squeeze bottles from Amazon. I was reading online of people decanting stick deodorant in a chapstick tube (I use a Native travel size container to decant mine), or using contact lens cases too for their liquids.

My question is: what kind of small bottles or containers have you found to be very helpful for your toiletries? And you didn’t expect it!

Please share your discoveries when it comes to packing your toiletries that left you thinking “who’d have thought?”

Thank you and safe travels.

Posted by
2267 posts

I don't have any particular secrets or tricks. But I will share that Muji has been my go-to for little bottles of varying sizes that are reasonably priced and compact. And I finally fell off my wallet and bought the 'collapsable' textile bottles/tubes from Matador. (The only thing I don't want to run out of and restock on the road is my lotion, which is specific for a skin condition.)

Posted by
464 posts

I thoroughly clean out the little bottles that come with home hair color kits and put liquids in them (such as shampoo or conditioner). I've also put liquid foundation makeup in them.

At Dollar Tree, they sell tiny spray bottles that contain eyeglass cleaner. I have refilled those with various items, including a heat-protectant for my hair, liquid hairspray or Febreeze.

My favorite, that you already mentioned, is using contact lens containers for liquid foundation, cream blush, vaseline and Vick's vaporub.

Small metal mint containers are great to hold earrings and foam ear plugs (I always wear those when blow-drying my hair).

I think this will be a fun topic!

Posted by
7011 posts

When I was still working, my firm's accountant used to save the small metal tins that the electric staples came in and I used those for sewing supplies, but now I use them for things like hair clips/elastic bands and so on when I travel. Altoid tins are also good for that.

I also use old disposable shower caps to cover my shoe bottoms (and for bread baking to cover the proofing dough). 😊

I don't do this but a friend of mine does (she wears more makeup than I do). :) Anyway, she uses pill containers that she gets for free at expos and so on, and puts her makeup in there. She swears by it!

Posted by
3 posts

Not necessarily ‘who’d have thought’, but such a winner - My favorite are from Amazon (‘Clear Thick Wall Acrylic Travel Refillable Pot Container Jar - .25 oz (12 pack) for Samples, Balms, Makeup and Cosmetics, Salves, Airtight and BPA Free’). Twelve for US$15. Holds plenty, don’t leak, lightweight, and compact enough to stack several in the 311 bag.

Posted by
199 posts

Hi Geraldine,
Great topic!

I save the little bags from individual teabags, especially the foil ones or larger ones.
I use the bags for a few Tylenol, my daily meds. Then I tape & date when filled, when expires with blue painter's tape and carry in my purse.

Yesterday, in the slightly larger teabags, I put a couple of spoonfuls of salt. Again, taped & dated. Sometimes it's very hard to find a couple of spoonfuls of salt when I feel a scratchy throat coming on. And heading off a sore throat early can make all the difference.

My former optometrist gave away contact lens cases which were a bit deeper. I fill these with Neosporin,
hydrocortisone lotion, A+D ointment and a pair of small earrings. Once during a tour my contacts started to bother me, but I didn't have any saline. I didn't want to lug around a bottle all day. Back in my room I squirted some in a lens case and carried it in my purse.

In the travel section of Target, I bought Qtips sold in a squarish plastic box. I use this box for my headphones.

I saved a small plastic food takeout box to pack Tide pods in. I also saved sample shampoo bottles to bring Tide detergent, but am nervous about leakage. I know there's dry detergent and sheets, but sometimes I need the liquid version to spot clean. So I taped the cap and doubled up the baggie. Or I put the bottle in a little square can that some promotional sweets came in.

A friend we were traveling with bought a large train set in Germany for his son. The box was large and rather heavy. The string around the box was uncomfortable to carry, so my friend fashioned a "handle" out of the toilet paper tube. That helped.

Have wonderful, safe travels everyone!

Posted by
33 posts

I love this topic! I’m obsessed with packing light and not taking more than I need. I travel domestically for work a few times each month. And I’m always up for learning about new and better packing solutions.

Last year, I took my first two trips to Europe. On the BOE 14-day tour I packed into the smallest bottles I needed. **TIP* – for face/eye cleansers & creams I pay attention to how many pumps I need each day and that is what I put in the bottle (times the number of days I’m gone) plus I add a few pumps just in case.* I went 17 days using a 10ml air pump bottle for my face moisturizer, 10ml air pump bottle for my tinted sunscreen (which I use as foundation) and my eye cream went into a 5ml bottle (that is .6 oz) I was so surprised that was all I needed. I realized that I really don’t need large 2-3 oz bottles. I didn’t run out of anything, and the bonus was I didn’t lug around a lot of products.
Link to Amazon for air pump bottles

Also – for my cleanser I use this type of container: Link to test tube container on Amazon

I think this is such a great topic and I always enjoy reading how others are packing.

Posted by
6081 posts

I have been pretty happy with "my bag of tricks" that I've developed for toiletries. However,. every so often I do have a leak which is frustrating on many levels. I have recently found these "leak locks" and used them on my last trip. LOVE THEM!!!!!!! For my next trip, I've ordered these, they are rated slightly higher than the first ones I ordered (which I had no issue with):

Posted by
3234 posts

The dry laundry strips DO get out stains with spot cleaning.
I take the Tru-Earth ones, and last trip my friend and I both spilled drippy sandwiches on our clothes.
I tore off a little bit of a strip and it lathered up in the sink and took the grease stains right out.
I was amazed.

TicTac containers are useful for little bits and pieces when traveling, such as bobby pins, ear buds, earrings, etc.

Posted by
38 posts

We primitive camp in the mountains frequently, so I have it whittled down to a small bag that just as easily served our carry-on only flight to Europe for 9 days. Nothing holds liquids like screw-on bottles. Dove body wash (true screw-on) and Nexxus travel shampoo bottles (snap lid) get emptied for my favorite hair-care products and have never leaked. Clinique holiday makeup kits have sample-size products with little screw-on lids (0.17 oz) that get wiped out or used up to hold eye cream, hair goo, sunscreen and even pills. Many department store make up brands will pour foundation samples into tiny bottles. A full-coverage foundation can do double duty as a concealer. I just keep pouring new foundation into these sample bottles and can get over two weeks of coverage.

I was impressed with my Native travel-size deodorant. After 9 days it was barely 1/3 used.

I have saved those orange Rx bottles for all sorts of things, the least of which is meds. You can cut q-tips and stick them in, but I prefer baggies.

Posted by
141 posts

These are great suggestions, I’m happy you’re sharing your tips and having fun with this post.

I’m almost done with a mini Vaseline lip balm that comes in 1/4 oz container and will fill it up with Aquaphor.

Thank you, please keep the fun rolling 😁

Posted by
47 posts

Like many others I decant into smaller containers. I also use contact lens cases -the ones with the screw on lids- for small amounts of certain types of hair gels, vaseline, etc. I also find the small plastic pill bags which are maybe 2 in. X 2in. very handy for a variety of things. Enjoy your travels!

Posted by
2147 posts

I use an empty travel size bottle of Listerine and fill it with Woolite for my sink washing. I’ve tried other bottles but they all leaked. This works great!

Posted by
199 posts

Thanks SJ and everyone for some terrific ideas.

Posted by
86 posts

I have used some small scientific sampling bottles that are designed to hold specimens in ethanol and other liquids - definitely waterproof.

Posted by
7447 posts

My daughter bought some of the Thick Clear Wall jars mentioned above for their trip to Iceland. She gave me the extras. I used one for our Hawaii trip, and one of them leaked, so just be careful. I always keep the liquids inside the Ziploc quart bag until I arrive at the hotel, just in case.

One that I saved a lot of money over my work trips and travels is to use the small toothpaste tubes from the dentist. But, those are not full! Open them and place a regular tube “nose-to-nose” to fill them fuller to bring less of them. It’s easy with a little practice. I reuse those tubes a lot.

The Clinique sample jar for liquid foundation will be plenty for me for a 4-week trip. Otherwise, just a eyebrow mascara, mascara & lipstick is all I bring. I have a tiny Tupperware - probably holds about 2 tablespoons, that’s good for hair styling gel. Otherwise, like you, I just use the hotel shampoo.

The smallest days-of-the-week medicine container is fine for holding small earrings. Just double up the pills on one day’s location.

I use the travel size Crystal deodorant & the dry Oil of Olay face cloths to remove makeup, so neither of those needs a container - just a small Ziploc bag.

A typical trip is about three weeks, and I don’t purchase anything for my toiletry kit at the country except maybe a special hand lotion if I’m in France.

Posted by
8866 posts

I buy travel mouthwash bottles with screw tops.

Dump the mouthwash and squeeze in liquid shampoo in one, conditioner in the other.

I also use a small Altoid container for earrings. A large Altoid tin carries throat lozenges. Altoid tins are a great travel resource. Can use for a sewing kit, holding coins, safety pins, bandaids, etc.

Posted by
332 posts

Love this topic! An off-label use for a common toiletry container - a plastic soap box, the kind with a hinged lid, makes a nice container for blister pack cards of OTC meds like Benadryl and Sudafed. For meds like Tylenol that don’t come on a card in the U.S. I put a stash in a small pill bag and they go in the OTC soap box as well. Fits nicely into my first aid bag and pills don’t get crushed or broken out of the foil in transit.

Posted by
141 posts

Altoids tins are great. I’ve seen the ones at Trader Joe’s with a clear lid and I regret throwing away mine because I hated the green tea flavor.

Posted by
6081 posts

Wondering what people do for hair styling product. In the past, I've used the Tresamme travel size mousse. We take longer trips now and every so often my mousse runs out before the end of the tip, and sometimes, I can't even find the product to begin with. I have pretty straight hair which will not behave without some product to get some volume in my hair when I dry it.

Posted by
289 posts

I use a 1.5" OD Rx tall bottle for laundry pods. It will hold 3.
I need unscented, so I don't want to hope to find that on vacation.

I have a bar of laundry soap, but have never taken it or used it. The last trip I took, I wasn't expecting to be stranded extra days. But I washed out underwear and socks using the dish detergent provided by the extended-stay hotel I was in.

I also use the 1.5" OD Rx tall bottles for floss-stix, hair clips, elastic hair-bands.

Either save your bottles or ask your pharmacy for some. I'd like some extra wide ones for things like more laundry pods.

Altoid minis tins for things like safety pins.

I use the mini toothpastes from the dentist. Mouthwash is whatever the hotel provides if any. But I also have some mouthwash strips/pods to try out.

As far as "how much do I need for X weeks"? Advice I found on this forum was to fill your travel container with the product, note the date and start using it. When it runs out, you know how many days that amount will last. I've used my label maker to add that info to the container.

Posted by
197 posts

I saved the smallest condiment containers from a Blue Apron meal delivery, washing them in the dishwasher. They are quite small but I found that they can contain enough shampoo and leave-in conditioner for a 3 week trip. The lids screw on and don't open or leak during a flight.

Posted by
1311 posts

I have found that little liquid bottles often leak in the checked bag but not when in my carry-on. I think the extreme pressure change may have something to do with that. So I will pack my TSA bag of liquids in my cabin bag. And I will also, as added insurance, put a bit of saran wrap under the twist cap to help keep everything contained.
My best hack is transferring my Tom's deodorant (with about half of it gone /used already) from its original container to an empty Secret travel size. I bought the Secret deodorant many years ago, threw it away, and made the transfer. This saves a lot of space in my small toiletries bag. And I renew it as necessary.
I also bring as much OTC meds as I think I will need. On my last trip I needed bandaids so have added those to my packing list. I keep these kinds of product in a small clear vinyl or ziplock bag.
I have a larger reusable vinyl bag that I place in the seat back pocket to keep anything I might put there (phone, iPad, snacks, book, water bottle, etc) from both falling to the bottom to be lost forever and getting dirty/germy.
Thanks for the fun and useful topic.

Posted by
141 posts

I do the Saran Wrap trick too, just to be safe.

This thread has been very fun, thanks for sharing, beautiful people.

Posted by
8631 posts

Back in the day, I used 35mm film containers for packing small quantities of things like aspirin, vitamins or pepto tablets. Nowadays, I just take travel-sized containers of toiletries from the travel section of the drugstore. If I run out, I don't mind shopping for the local brands wherever I am. I'll usually check a bag on return so I dont worry about the full-size items and security.

Posted by
3234 posts

I’ve just tried the trick of refilling the tiny toothpaste tubes.
I didn’t know about that one… worked!
However, if it explodes all over my bag, I’ll know who to blame…….😉

Posted by
7447 posts

@SJ, LOL! Squeeze a tiny bit out; I can’t take the pressure! (Air travel pun) ; )

Posted by
289 posts

My best hack is transferring my Tom's deodorant (with about half of it
gone /used already) from its original container to an empty Secret
travel size. I bought the Secret deodorant many years ago, threw it
away, and made the transfer. This saves a lot of space in my small
toiletries bag. And I renew it as necessary.

Is this solid deodorant?

I keep checking the trial size bins at Target and Walmart for UNscented Secret, but it's always some "flavor".

Posted by
289 posts

Not so much for travel, but

I use Rx bottles to hold quarters or dimes for things like parking meters and copy machines. Get the right diameter so they stay stacked.

I keep one of quarters in the center console of my vehicle. I'm afraid the pleather of a coin purse would disintegrate in the heat.

But nowadays even parking meters take credit/debit cards and some libraries let you scan for free to your thumb drive.

Posted by
14247 posts

I buy the tiny ziplock bags at Michaels in the bead department, used for sorting jewelry making stuff, I think. There are 2 sizes, small and smaller, lol. Sizes are 3"x4"and 2"x3".

You have to buy a bunch of them so you are pretty much supplied for life, lol.

I use them for OTC meds - my allergy meds, Motrin, herbal sleep remedy, cough drops for my purse, etc.

Posted by
141 posts

I think I’m going to move some of my medication to the small pill bags/beads bags from michaels to save space.

I’ll ask my pharmacist if he can print me a label to put on the pill bag, just in case.

Posted by
15665 posts

If you aren't familiar with then you need to take a look. They sell travel size items for almost everything that's available. I've purchased from them many times.

Posted by
111 posts

@sueamill - I bought the 10ml bottles that you recommended because I take the same stuff you used them for. I never would have bought something this small thinking it could last me two weeks, but you are right! These bottles hold a lot and take up very little room in my 3-1-1 bag. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by
141 posts

Thanks for all your recommendations. I’m having so much fun with this thread.

Frank II thanks! Didn’t know if that site. I’m checking it out.

Posted by
77 posts

I don't know if you have checked yet, but I am finding loads of these sorts of things at very inexpensive prices. Think, flat containers in 1, 2, 3 ounce sizes that collapse when you use them. Small plastic boxes to hold jewelry, pills, etc. Loads of great options and prices are ridiculously low. I order on my computer, so haven't downloaded the app on my phone for privacy reasons. I have placed 5 orders so far and am finding that the prices beat Amazon usually by a factor of 10. Yes, really. Here are a couple of links for you to check out:

It is important to shop around because there are wildly different prices for the exact same item. It has been kind of fun going down this particular rabbit hole. Enjoy!

Posted by
1033 posts

Wondering what people do for hair styling product. In the past, I've used the Tresamme travel size mousse.

My hairdresser sells/gives me the sample sachets.