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Your 2022 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 aren’t 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, and yes, lotion too.

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

Bottiful Home Replacement Lotion Pumps

If you need replacement pumps for Bottiful Home refillable bottles you purchased in the past or any other bottle that’s threaded to 24/410 and 6 inches or less in height from the shoulder to the bottom of the bottle, you can purchase our replacements pumps here. If you’re bottle is shorter than 6 inches from the shoulder to the bottom of the bottle, just trim the dip tube down to the correct length.

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.

Parts of a Lotion Pump

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.

The primary purpose of the closure is to ensure the pump has been tightly sealed to the bottle, preventing leaks and causing air suction to be optimal.

It can be made of a variety of plastic or metal 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.

Contrary to popular belief, the thickness or width of the dip tube is not the determining factor for how thick a product the pump will dispense.

You can have a small tube dispensing a thick liquid.

Rather, the width of the dip tube is more directly connected to how much product is dispensed at once.

So a pump meant to dispense 1 cc of product with each press will typically have a slimmer dip tube than one meant to dispense 3 cc of product at a time.

5. Housing

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

Most of the complicated part and physics of a pump is happening inside the housing.

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.

The housing usually consists of a large chamber, the pressing foot of the actuator and a glass ball.

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.

This is one reason pump bottles are well-suited to teaching kids and teenagers how much product to use when learning to shower and bathe by themselves.

You can press the pump until you have the right amount in your hand then tell your child to press it that number of times each time they wash.

That way, they are getting clean enough without wasting a bunch of shampoo and conditioner and soap.

That’s one reason I love my refillable shower bottles even for the kids’ bathroom.

Check out these beautiful options I have that will help your kids waste less product while staying clean:


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.


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.


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.

And the versatility of lotion pumps doesn’t end there.

Lotion pumps can also be used in a variety of different applications like personal care products, household cleaning products as well as food products.

For liquid foods like condiments, you will often find pumps on large gallon bottles at fairs, warehouse clubs and self-service condiment stations.

The pumps used on those bottles are technically lotion pumps.

Just keep in mind that you can’t use any lotion pump with food.

You have to consider whether it has capacity for the thickness of your food product and also whether the spring comes in contact with the contents.

At Bottiful Home, I use only no-contact springs in all my lotion pumps.

This means that the metal spring is protected from coming in contact with the contents of the bottle.

No-contact springs prevent corrosion, contamination and degradation due to chemical reactions between the metal spring and the liquid inside the bottle.

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 if you don’t want dents in your bottles after squeezing them, it limits you to certain types of plastic bottles, usually made from HDPE or LDPE plastic.

Other types of plastic like PET will dent if squeezed.

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.

disc cap dispenser

Upside Down (or Right Side Up) 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.

flip cap

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 nozzles 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.

Here are some examples of spray nozzles you may be familiar with.

They all serve different purposes, but essentially work the same.

sprayer pump 1
sprayer pump 3

Foaming Soap Pump

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

Instead of being designed to work with very thick liquids, foaming soap pumps are designed to work with very thin liquids with viscosity not much thicker than water.

They 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 or clog 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.

But they are super for saving money while washing your hands!

Check out my refillable foaming soap bottles that not only have one of the best foaming pumps available, but were made to become part of your decor.

Choosing Lotion Pumps for Your Refillable Bottles

At Bottiful Home we use lotion pumps for all our dispensing bottles (except our foaming soap 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 meant for thick liquids.

We also use only no-contact pumps where the spring never comes in contact with your contents.

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

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!

If you need replacement pumps for your Bottiful Home bottles or any other bottle threaded to 24/410, you can purchase them in sets of four here:

set of 4 pumps on white background

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