For several years now I have wondered in awe at the pump soap dispenser on my mother-in-law’s kitchen sink. It is personalized with her name and several “hand-” type phrases floating mysteriously in the clear liquid soap. It’s mystifying.
This past summer while we visited her I had plenty of time to wonder about it and research, and finally figured it out, thanks to some helpful blog posts (like this one from the Idea Room). Turns out, it’s an old-fashioned, overhead projector’s clear plastic transparency sheet that holds the black words magically suspended in space. Who knew? Genius.
My “teacher gift” of choice (for the past countless years) is yummy-smelling soap in a pump bottle. I figure that everyone needs soap, and since it’s completely disposable when it is empty, there’s no guilt in not hanging onto the memento forever. I let my kids pick out their favorite “flavors” at the store in the mall so that they have some ownership in the gift. This year they can help me make the “personalized” soap pumps instead. (It also works with hand sanitizer pumps!) Recipients can toss them when they are empty or refill them with their favorite clear liquid soap.
How to make a Personalized Pump Soap Dispenser:
I ordered some clearance-priced transparency film this past summer from an online dealer because I planned to print the bottle inserts at home with my laser printer that supports “transparencies” as a Media Type in its settings. You have to use a laser printer (or a photocopier from your local copy shop) so the toner ink will be heat-fused onto the transparency film. This keeps it from dissolving off into the soap like ink from an ink jet printer would do.
I purchased multiple pump soaps from the store, making sure that they were “clear” in color and yummy smelling. Mine didn’t cost more than a dollar each. You can also use hand sanitizer instead of soap.
Carefully peel off the front and back labels from each bottle—fingernails help! The top layer of a paper label tears off relatively well, but I had to soak what was left in water, rub off the softened paper, and then clean off the adhesive residue with a citrus-based cleaner like De-Solv-It or Goo Gone, purchased from a local store. Hint: Apply the cleaner and let it sit for a minute, then rub the gooey gunk off. Plastic labels sometimes peel off remarkably cleanly and sometimes not. As before, remove any adhesive residue with a citrus solvent. (Rubbing alcohol did not work for this.)
When all the label residue was cleaned off, I gave each bottle a good rinse under running water and polished it dry with an old towel.
Then I traced around each bottle, scanned the outlines, opened the scanned image in my favorite photo-editing software, shrunk the tracing 95%, and created some templates for my soap bottle inserts. I’ve included them below for you: blank templates if you’d like to design your own, and pre-lettered templates if you don’t. (I think hand-lettered or hand-drawn artwork, photocopied at your local copy shop would be an amazing touch, but that artistic gene skipped me.) (You could also personalize it with a monogram. Damask Love has some great inspiration for monograms.)
Then I printed each template sheet onto transparency film using my laser printer, and carefully cut the bottle inserts out, being careful to cut off the black outline by cutting just inside the lines. You don’t want your “invisible” edges to be visible :)
Inserting the words into the bottles is easier (and less messy!) if you have a volunteer set of hands. Carefully roll each insert (printed side out) into a vertical tube while having someone else unscrew the pump top of the soap bottle, carefully scraping as much extra soap off its stick as possible. Slide the rolled-up tube into the bottle opening and use the pump stick to push it down and nudge it into place. Then replace the pump lid, add a cute bow and tag (you can do better than I did :), and you have just performed holiday magic! Happy gift-giving. (Don’t forget to make one for yourself.)
Free templates for you:
Whether you print these yourself directly, or print a master copy on white paper to take to your copy shop, make sure you print them “Actual Size” or 100%. If you “shrink to fit” or “fit to page,” they will be smaller than intended.