How to use soap for the shower

Shower soap, naked shower gel

Soap for the shower isn’t a new thing (obviously), and soap themselves have been around for as long as 6000 years around the time of the Babylonians (around 2800 BC).

Gels and liquid soaps have long since taken over the shower space for around 100 years , offering what’s seen as a more convenient and better feeling product than the traditional soap bar which in most cases has been considered to be somewhat drying and sticky during use. When gels were devised there was however no consideration on what happens to the plastic waste… it becomes someone else’s problem until the end of the line which no one really knew where it was, until very recently.

Our Totally Solid shower gels (aka soaps for the shower) aim to overcome the key problems with traditional soaps such as that sticky feel during usage and the fact they can be really drying. We’ve created (what we think is) the perfect product if you want to get away from those plastic bottles and add a bit more sustainability to your life. It’s the best of both worlds… great feeling showers with none of the plastic.

It might seem obvious, but there are some fundamental usage differences if you want to make the switch to our solid shower gels.

Washing yourself using soap for the shower

Washing with a soap for the shower compared to using a shower gel is quite a different experience. Gels are generally a fair bit quicker to bubble up due to the amount of water already within the product (and chemicals), so you will generally need to activate a bar product a bit more under the water.

From there you will get a creamy and bubbly lather, allowing you to wash yourself like you would have with your gel. Where Shower Blocks differs from other soap options is that they have a similar skin feel to a gel through the whole process, from creating a lather through to rinsing it off. It’s that easy.

Storing your soap

When you store your traditional shower gels, it’s true to say that it’s just easy. Stick them on a shower rack, whack them down in the corner, or stick them the other side of the bath. The outcome is the same every time. No mess.

Soap in the shower does have a little more thinking to do around how you keep them. It’s important to keep them dry after usage to avoid most of them turning to much, so definitely don’t leave in a wet pool in the corner.

Luckily there’s a number of handy products available to help you keep your bathroom tidy.

A Wooden Soap Dish: It allows you to keep the side of the bath looking neat and tidy, and gives maximum air circulation to allow your soap to dry off.

Wooden soap dish

A travel tin: For those of you on the go, this is perfect if you’re taking it through airports etc. No plastic bottles to worry about either.

Travel soap tin

Magnetised soap hangers: This is our personal favourite. Attach them to the side of the shower, attach the magnet to your soap, and then hang after use. The soap drip dries very quickly, and is out of the way in as tidy as possible fashion. You can get them in all kinds of materials and designs to suit your needs too.

Magnetic soap holder, soap for showers

Naked Shower Gel? Isn’t it just a bar of soap?

naked shower gel, soap for shower

Naked shower gel has been around for some time, and here at Shower Blocks they’ve been of great influence to our mission. Historically though, they’ve been very costly and so not so much of a viable option for many people wanting to replace their standard shower gel with a solid alternative that doesn’t break the bank.

They’re not really the same as what you’d consider your regular bar of soap. They do use similar ingredients in places, but if you think of how you shower, lather up and wash off the bubbles, there’s different needs for how the product and your skin reacts at each stage. A general bar of soap is usually a palm, coconut and olive style base, and on their own they can be very drying or ‘squeaky’. Naked shower gels aim to give you the same great feeling as the bottled stuff.

Why bother making it naked in the first place?

Now more than ever people are becoming more and more sustainably conscious, and plastic bottles have become a real bone of contention.  In the UK there’s approximately 200 million bottles used annually for shower gels… if we can impact even 1% of that we’ll be very happy.

There’s other great benefits of using Naked shower gel, in that they become easier to transport in your luggage for holiday, and they also use less water in their production. All that carbon footprint on their shipping is not wasted on water too.

Will Shower Blocks work as well as regular shower gel?

Absolutely. We spent a long time formulating the perfect ingredient blend to replicate a gel feeling at every stage. In particular the moment you wash the suds off is just as you’d expect. There’s no sticky and squeaky feeling you’d associate with a regular soap bar. Combine that with big bubbles, creamy lather and punchy fragrances there’s a lot to love.

Once you’ve used your Shower Block and feeling ready for your day, you simply put it on the side to dry out before the next use.

Are Plastics Bad?

are plastics bad, soap for the shower

Plastics in retail have been under heavy scrutiny over the last few years, and it’s fair to say that a key catalyst for this, particularly in the UK was the most recent series of Blue Planet with David Attenborough.

Being able to see baby whales caught up in plastic waste in part of the ocean that you could never imagine was an extremely sobering sight for many people, myself included.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between what is a single use and potentially unnecessary plastic, and one that has longevity before we start to look at whether they are all bad or not.

I think we can all agree that plastic bags from the supermarket are the worst kind of plastic… their usage is for the most part for little over a few hours of a day before they’re thrown away, or if you’re like me, on the occasion that you do have one, it then spends years in a cupboard with the other ones, because you know, you’ll use it some day. Right… right?

Other types of disposable plastic that you might find in store are plastic bottles (at the heart of the Shower Blocks mission), food wrapping, cellophane, inner box packaging, blah blah endless list.

Can all of those be overcome?

Fresh food wrapping is a great challenge for the retail sector to overcome due to just how good it is at preserving food. When you start to weigh up food waste versus plastic waste it gets complex. Use something as an alternative, you may end up with a lot of spoiled food. Too much spoilage would inevitably lead to price hikes to cover the loss, so it’s understandable that retailers are finding this a challenge to find a more sustainable alternative for.

Our mission surrounds ‘recyclable’ plastic bottles. Now, seeing as the bottles are recyclable why should you care? At the moment just 59% of all plastic bottles are recycled according to the British Plastics Federation. We could assume that this might be a nicely massaged number given the source, but we’ll go with it.

The shower market is worth around £290 million a year, and a shower gel is approx. £1-2 a bottle. We can therefor assume that there is at least a total of 145 million product sales yearly, if not more. If 41% (a low estimate) of those are going to landfill, then we’re talking 60 million plastic bottles that are not recycled.

That’s a staggering amount of wastage that does not need to be there when we have viable alternatives. This is the reason we created Shower Blocks, to provide customers a viable product that could replicate the experience of a shower gel, but in soap form… totally solid shower gels.

What about other kinds of plastics? Kids toys, appliances etc.

The fact is that plastic is a very fast and cheap method of production. Think of that kettle you have in the kitchen. Now, mine is currently a plastic one. I have had it for 8 years so far and it’s still going strong. In term of usability I have much preferred using that on a personal level than the previous one I had which was aluminium. If you’ve had a metal one or do have one… you can easily burn yourself. When it comes to the end of the lifecycle, they both have a similar problem in that they would need to be broken down into their sum parts. That’s not a material problem, that’s an appliance problem that’s a lot harder to overcome.

Kids toys are a similar story. They get recycled in their ownership over and over again and whilst they do take a long time when it comes to decomposing and is a problem that needs looking at from a long-term perspective, they don’t post the same risk to the sustainability of our ecosystems as single use plastic consumption.

We believe that plastics in general can have their place, but as a society and business community we should be doing as much as we can in providing viable options to reduce needless consumption of fast turnover packaging.

Here we use cardboard boxes as our retail packaging, and we’re always looking at what is available to improve things further.

If you have any suggestions on how we can improve things, by all means get in touch. We’re always listening.

Words: Neil Whippey, founder Shower Blocks

Toiletries Amnesty – alleviating hygiene poverty

toiletries amnesty

It all started in my airing cupboard. It was 2014 and I’d found two unused bottles of shampoo. I didn’t want them, but I didn’t want to waste them. I’ve always been into reusing before recycling. I worry about the amount that people buy and throw away, especially knowing that there are other people who would be grateful for those things. I realised if I felt like this, then surely other people did too.

The name came because I thought of it as a real amnesty – you could give up your expensive and unused toiletries and you didn’t have to answer any questions or be judged on it. A lot of people feel guilty for not using things they’ve bought, and the Toiletries Amnesty was a way for them to give and feel relieved for not wasting anything.

I recruited friends to sort through their own cupboards, and they encouraged their friends and family to get involved. I thought we’d just run this project for a month and then donate everything to one homelessness charity.

It didn’t work out as I’d imagined!

The response was so huge, we had people posting parcels from all across the UK, and emailing from all over the world! We shared the toiletries out amongst several homeless shelters, there were dozens of bags and boxes full. 

It was obvious we couldn’t stop there, so I set up a temporary directory on my blog (, It seemed to make sense to let people deliver to their local organisations; apart from the logistics side of things, I thought it would help build community relationships, and in some locations they needed more than toiletries, so people were able to and still do) donate (clothes, kitchen items, bedding, and more, alongside their Toiletries Amnesty drop offs.

Fast forward a couple of years and I received an X Foundation Award, and the financial support to get the  directory off the ground. Having this online platform, and a really easy system for everyone to get involved, has been a game changer.

Since then Toiletries Amnesty grown and grown. We’ve diverted hundreds of tonnes of waste from landfill, and we’ve helped get toiletries and hygiene products to tens of thousands of people.

We now support over 150 organisations including homeless shelters and hostels, women and children’s refuges, mental health services, NHS trust groups, children and families centres, food banks, refugee support groups, schools and colleges, prison services, community groups, and other organisations who need our support.

It’s true, there shouldn’t be a situation where so many people are in such desperate need, but that’s the situation we’re in, and the best we can do is to help others in any way we can.

It’s not just about supporting local communities and forming more understanding relationships in society, it’s about demonstrating that a small act can have a huge and positive effect on us all, as well as helping decrease our environmental impact.

Now, with the support of Shower Blocks we can reach another level of combatting hygiene poverty and ensure as many people have access to products that not only help them feel clean, but also help boost their self-confidence and wellbeing too.

I really believe that small actions make big changes, and each person who buys a Block is not only be getting something nice for themselves, and for the environment, but they’ll be giving something positive to a stranger, and that is really a lovely thing.

by Karen Harvey
Founder of Toiletries Amnesty