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Your 2021 Guide to Lotion Pumps

Lotion pumps are a great way to dispense your lotions, liquid soaps, shampoos, conditioners and other liquid household and body products and make them easy to use when combined with an appropriate bottle.

They give you precise control over how much product is dispensed so that you can get the perfect amount every time.

But not every soap bottle pump is a lotion pump.

So what exactly is a lotion pump?

How do they work?

And when would you want one over another type of packaging?

We’re going to cover all this and more about lotion pumps in detail!

What Is a Lotion Pump?

Lotion pumps are among the most common household dispensers for liquid items, available in varying sizes and shapes in the personal and beauty care industry, and made specifically for the application of the product as well as the container it’s paired with.

But not all soap pumps are lotion pumps.

And contrary to what the name suggests, lotion pumps are specifically made for lotion.

Instead, a lotion pump is specifically designed to accommodate thick, viscous liquids such as shampoo, conditioner, detergent, dishwashing liquid and some concentrated liquids.

The more concentrated the liquid, the more the pump has to “work” to deliver product.

How Does a Lotion Pump Work?

The lotion pump is a removable mechanism that is inserted into the opening on top of a bottle that delivers product up and out of the bottle with a pumping action.

It typically includes a dip tube that reaches down into the bottom of the bottle and has an airtight seal at the end connected to an exit valve inside the pump mechanism.

The typical components of a lotion pump include:

1. Actuator

The actuator is a moveable lever that you press in order to dispense the lotion, shampoo, conditioner or other liquid.

The more quickly you press on it, the faster the product is dispensed.

Lotion pumps can either have a down-lock or up-lock mechanism, which means it either locks by pushing it down and twisting (down-lock) or locks by simply twisting the actuator (up-lock).

They can also have no lock at all.

2. Outer Gasket

The outer gasket is a seal that tightly grips to the container, preventing any leaks from occurring.

It can be made from a variety of materials depending on the specific design of the bottle but is typically some variant of rubber.

3. Closure

The closure is the part that screws onto the top of bottle or container.

It can be made of a variety of plastic materials and finishes and seal the actuator to the bottle to prevent leakage and ensure an airtight seal.

4. Dip Tube

The dip tube is a long, hollow piece of tubing that transmits the soap, lotion or other liquid from inside the container to outside it.

It is typically made from plastic with an airtight seal to the pumping mechanism to provide strong pumping performance.

5. Housing

The housing is the wide chamber that delivers product from the dip tube to the actuator.

The width and length of housings vary widely and help determine how much product will be dispensed when pressing the actuator.

Often, people think the thickness and width of the dip tube determines how well the pump works and how much product will be dispensed, but this is not the case.

The quality, construction, size and materials used in the housing are the biggest factors determining how much product will be dispensed and how thick of a liquid it can handle.

Benefits of Using a Lotion Pump

Pump bottles are a great way to dispense your personal care products and household cleaners and astringents because they’re so easy to use.

It’s popular with both manufacturers and consumers because it offers a  single-handed way to get product from the bottle into your hand or on a surface.

As long as the bottle itself if a sturdy shape and size, you can use one hand to depress the actuator and deliver product out of the bottle.

Here are some of the advantages many customers find when they use lotion pumps on their bottles.

Less Waste

Since most lotion pumps are designed to dispense a very specific amount of product, you waste less product guessing if you have the right amount.

For example, if you have a 2cc lotion pump, then you’ll get 2cc of product every time you press the actuator, and you know how many pumps you need to get the right amount.

In a squeeze bottle, you’re just guessing how much you have in your hand based on a visual reference.

Multi-Functional

Lotion pumps can be used to dispense more than just lotions.

They are typically used with thick, viscous liquids such as shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, body cream, face wash, etc.

Even some dish soaps can be very thick and difficult to dispense from a regular non-lotion pump.

But they can also be used with thinner liquids like alcohol, sanitizer and vinegar.

Lotion pumps are also very versatile in that they can be used with hard plastic, acrylic, ceramic and even glass bottles.

Since you don’t have to squeeze the container or shake it to get the product out, these types of containers will almost always be best used with a lotion pump to dispense from them.

Convenient

Pump bottles are incredibly convenient to use because you can keep the bottle on the counter or surface while using a single hand to press the pump and catch the product dispensed.

It’s pretty much the only dispensing method that doesn’t require you to pick up the bottle to get your shampoo, conditioner, soap or lotion out of the bottle.

Fewer Clogs

Lotion pumps typically don’t clog like their non-lotion pump counterparts.

This is because the housing allows for enough air flow to create pressure in the bottle for pumping the liquid without allowing enough air to dry out the lotion, soap or shampoo.

You can’t leave a lotion pump unused for 2 years and expect the product to have not dried out, but you can still remove the pump, clean it out and start anew.

Typical soap pumps not designed for thick liquids will clog easily because the product has to be very low-viscosity (or thinned out) to be able to properly dispense through the housing and actuator.

Versatile

Lotion pumps can either not lock at all, lock in the up position, or lock in the down position.

If the pump locks in the “up” position, it’s just a simple twist to lock and unlock the pump.

If it locks in the “down” position, you must press the pump down and then twist until it’s locked.

Lotion pumps can also come in a variety of dispensing abilities.

Some lotion pumps are designed to dispense only a very small amount, like ½ cc, which would be useful for some face and anti-aging treatment products.

And some are designed to dispense as much as 2 or 3 cc at a time for larger amounts of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, bubble bath, etc.

A larger dispensing capacity means you press fewer times to get a lot more product out.

What are Some Alternatives to a Lotion Pump?

There are many different bottle dispensing options available, all with pros and cons and designed for specific uses, which is why it’s essential to understand what each one has to offer before deciding on a dispensing option.

Non-Lotion Soap Pump

Often just referred to as a soap pump, non-lotion soap pumps are pumps that aren’t designed to be used with thick liquids.

This type of soap pump is good for very thinned out liquids such as alcohol, some sanitizers, vinegar and very thin hand soap.

You can often tell this type of pump by looking at the actuator and/or the housing.

If the actuator has a long thin dispensing nozzle, it is likely a non-lotion pump.

If the housing is very short, say less than an inch long, it’s probably not a lotion pump.

Disc Cap Dispenser

A disc cap dispenser must be used with a squeezable container, which limits it to plastic bottles.

And depending on whether the bottle is stored upright or upside down, the user may also have to shake the bottle to get product toward the dispenser prior to squeezing it out.

Disc cap dispensers are best used for smaller bottles that can be easily shaken and thinner liquids that will more easily dispense through a small hole.

Upside Down Flip Cap

A flip cap dispenser must also be used with a squeezable container.

It allows the bottle to be stored on the cap so the product doesn’t have to be shaken to reach the dispensing end.

You flip the cap open and squeeze the plastic bottle to dispense.

This type of dispenser can work well with thicker liquids if the hole is designed to allow for it.

But it will not work with glass, ceramic, acrylic or hard plastic bottles because they don’t allow for squeezing.

Spray Nozzle

A spray nozzle can be used to disperse thinner liquids from a bottle outward toward a wider output than a typical pump.

The spray nozzle has multiple holes through which the thinner liquid passes to create the spray effect.

These nozzle are best used with household products and cleaners such as window cleaner, alcohol, vinegar, etc and work well with all types of bottle materials such as glass, ceramic and acrylic since they are essentially a pumping action.

But they cannot be used with thick, viscous liquids.

And they cannot be used to apply product to a small detailed area because the spray goes outward in all directions from the nozzle.

Foaming Soap Pump

The foaming soap pump is the opposite of a lotion pump.

Foaming pumps are designed to take slightly soapy water and turn it into foaming suds.

In order to accomplish this, the water to soap ratio must be very high.

In fact it’s about 5:1 or even higher if your liquid soap is more concentrated.

So the soapy base must be very watery for the foaming pump to create soap foam and not break the pump itself.

Foaming pumps can become stuck and clogged if the soap portion of the ratio is too high.

Foaming pumps are a great way to save on liquid soap because you’re only putting a little soap in the bottom of the bottle and filling the rest with water, but it’s highly unlikely you want foaming pumps for your shampoos, conditioners, and body washes.

Foaming soap is so watered down it probably won’t be an effective way to wash and condition your hair and clean your body.

Choosing Lotion Pumps for Your Refillable Bottles

At Bottiful Home we use lotion pumps for all our dispensing bottles because we’ve designed our bottles for the thickest liquids used on hair, hands and house.

Our collection of plastic refillable soap, lotion and personal care bottles and pumps is an excellent way to keep your favorite products organized and looking like décor instead of mismatched clutter in your shower.

Whether it’s dispensing hair conditioner, body lotion or hand sanitizer, our bottle options are designed with convenience in mind.

That’s why we only use lotion pumps on all our refillable bottles.

If you already have a refillable bottle, and you need to know how to find the right replacement pump, check out my complete article on that very subject!

You purchase Bottiful Home refillable shower bottles to make your shower look more beautiful, and you get safety, peace of mind and the best customer service as added bonuses!

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