It’s no secret that an at-home milk bath is one of the most relaxing, self-indulgent (and affordable!) ways that we can practice a little self-care at home. It’s like dipping your body in a lactic acid elixir that smells heavenly and leaves your skin feeling like new!
But after the tub drains and you find yourself with an empty milk bath container, the fun is far from over. Ready to put your empties to work? Here are six tips, tricks, and ideas to consider the next time you find yourself with an empty milk bath container.
But First, the Deal with Plastic
Plastic is a material that was invented about a hundred years ago. While it’s a useful material in many different ways, a lot of plastic items are intended only to be used once before being thrown away. Think along the lines of plastic bags, straws, or takeout cups from coffee shops. That’s a lot of plastic garbage!
Unfortunately, a lot of plastic ends up in important ecosystems. Unlike organic waste, plastic takes years to break down. Even when it does eventually break down, you're left with tiny pieces of plastic that can easily find their way into places where we shouldn’t find plastic, like the ocean.
Here at Bend Soap Co., we’re big fans of being good stewards of our resources, whether that’s sourcing local ingredients, re-using scrap materials, or finding alternative ways to use things, and our plastic empties are no exception. This coming year, we plan to transition one or two entire product lines from plastic packaging to sustainable packaging which is something we’re really excited about. In the meantime, finding new uses for empty containers is just one of the ways we can all make the most of our resources and give life and purpose to something that would otherwise end up sitting in our recycling bin waiting for garbage day.
How to Reuse Empty Plastic Containers
To start, give your empty milk bath container a good rinse and peel off the front and back labels. If you want to be able to easily identify what’s inside, leave the container as is and start putting it to work. Or, coat it with a little spray paint or acrylic paint and add a label to fit your aesthetic. You can also wrap twine or rope around the container, using hot glue to keep it in place, to give your empty milk bath container a completely new look.
🛈 Pro Tip: Having to deal with leftover sticker residue drives us nuts! After you’ve gotten off as much of it as you can, mix a little baking soda and lemon essential oil together and apply it directly to the residue. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe off to remove the rest of the remaining adhesive off. No lemon essential oil on hand? Just use Goo Gone. 😉
Read on for some of our favorite ways to upcycle your empties and give them a second go in your home.
#1 Gather Up All Your Loose Odds & Ends
Yes, this might be a no-brainer idea, but there are a TON of regular household items that can be collected and stored in empty containers. These are just a few different ideas we came up with based on the different rooms or areas you might have in your home.
- The junk drawer: We all have one! The milk bath container may be too tall for a pull-out drawer, but using a kitchen cabinet is a great way to bring things up to eye-level right where you can see (and find!) them. This is a great way to gather up loose business cards, extra keys, pens/pencils, loose tubes of lip butter, or anything else lurking in the depths that you need quick access to.
- At your desk: Say goodbye to loose paper clips, binder clips, rubber bands, and extra strips of staples once and for all.
- In the kid's play area: Store clay and play dough (yes, this will totally help it from drying out!), loose crayons, beads or other crafts with small pieces, Lego pieces, and even small figurines. The large screw top is easy for small hands to take off and sturdy enough to keep things contained.
- In the garage: Round up all those loose screws, nails, tacks, and other loose hardware that’s often scattered around collecting dust.
- In the bathroom: Make it a go-to container to store hair ties and bobby pins, Q-tips and cotton balls, or even contain extra toothbrush replacement heads.
#2 Upcycle as a Planter
Cheap, beautiful, and ideal for balconies or small gardens, you can easily transform your empty milk bath container into a unique, one-of-a-kind planter. Before you fill the container with potting soil, add a thin layer of pea gravel to the bottom to allow for proper drainage. Adding too much pea gravel to the bottom takes up room that soil would otherwise fill, making the pot much smaller for your plant.
Alternatively, you could drill a few holes in the bottom of the container to allow enough drainage. Just add a few coffee filters to the very bottom of your container before adding your dirt. This will help prevent dirt from spilling out of the drainage holes and making a mess. Then plop in your plants, add a bit more potting soil, and give it a nice drink of water.
#3 Use Them for Dry Food Storage
From specialty flours and sugars you buy loose at the grocery store to dried lentils, beans, and other legumes, this is a great way to put your empties to work in the kitchen. Adding a reusable label makes identifying the ingredients you need a breeze. Now we’re not saying this would replace a need for tupperware containers (we wouldn’t advise heating up food in a plastic milk bath container), but this is an all-around great storage solution.
We also love referring back to this idea when preparing for family camping trips. By placing dried goods in a plastic container, you can bring along just what you need without having to haul bulky, heavy boxes. Our plastic milk bath containers stack easily and have a wide mouth so pouring ingredients in and out is easy.
Have a furry family member in your home? Depending on how much food you feed your pet, these empty containers could also work great for perfectly portioned mini dog food bowls. Larger dogs will likely need their food poured out into a traditional dog food bowl, but smaller breeds can eat right out of the container.
#4 Make a Shake & Search “I Spy” Sensory Toy
While you might’ve heard about sensory bins, a shake & search toy is a mess-free version that’s portable and easy to manage. While there are countless different styles or types, sensory toys are specifically designed to stimulate one or more of your child’s senses. They can be enjoyed by kids of all ages and stages of life but can be especially appealing to children who have sensory processing issues, such as Autism, or who tend to get a little overexcited and need a little help calming down.
While they can be made a ton of different ways, this shake & search toy contains a variety of interesting items that are fun to shake and hear inside the container, or would be interesting to roll around and look at. It could also be a peaceful object that kids can focus on to try and “spy” different objects you’ve hidden inside.
You’ll quickly find that a shake & search toy is a super fun way to keep the kids entertained at home, in the car (they’re a must for long car rides!), while waiting for appointments, etc. The best part is that you can get really creative when making them!
What you’ll need:
The exact supplies you need will vary, but you’ll need to gather:
- A container: An empty milk bath container with the label removed is a great place to start since it’s transparent and comes with a lid. The mouth of the container is also wide enough for you to use a variety of objects (more details below).
- Your “search” items: These will be the focal points of your shake & search toy. They can be random or stick to a theme depending on how creative you feel like getting but they should be larger in size than whatever filler you’re using so that they stand out and can be easily identified. We like the idea of adding a variety of things you already have around the house to keep costs low and give your kids a variety of things to search around for. A few thing to grab could be small figurines or tiny action figures (think Lego figurine size), dice, marbles, puzzle pieces, pompoms, a birthday candle, shells, dried pasta, dominoes, a feather, pennies, or any other trinket you can find around the house. The toy aisle at your local dollar store can be a great place to find things.
- Filler: This is what you’ll use to fill the rest of the empty space in your container. Our favorite fillers include sand, birdseed, beads, dried rice or beans, water, or glitter. For younger kids, we recommend just sticking to one type of filler so that the main objects are easier to spot. For older kids, consider mixing up the filler types that you use.
- Hot glue gun: To secure the lid on tight after you’ve assembled your sensory toy.
🛈 Pro Tip: Coming up with different themes for your shake & search can be fun for you and your kids! Stick with the season or think about a book or movie that your kids are especially fond of. We absolutely loved this “Goodnight Moon” themed shake & search idea!
This is the easy part. First, add all of your main objects to the container and then fill the remaining empty space with your filler (leave a little bit of room at the top so that the main objects inside can move around and be seen). Secure the lid on tight using your hot glue gun to ensure a tight seal and you're done! Hand off to your kids and let them enjoy hours of fun and entertainment. You can even give your kids a list of the main objects that are inside and ask them to search around until they find them.
As with all toys, please supervise playtime with your shake & search toy and inspect it before and after use to ensure that they’re sealed up tight and won’t cause any harm or potential choking danger (let alone a mess!) Over time, you may even want to apply extra hot glue just to ensure that the lid won’t come loose.
#5 Fill Up Extra Space in Deep Planters Without Adding Heavy Dirt
This is an ingenious tip I picked up from my Mom (thanks, Mom!) that nearly everyone seems to find helpful.
Large planters and flower pots are a beautiful way to make an outside space warm and inviting. But lugging them around can be a total pain, especially when they’re filled to the rim with heavy dirt. Lighten the load without compromising on precious soil for your flowers and plants by filling your large, heavy pots with empty milk bath containers and any other plastic empties you’ve got on hand. It makes pots easier to carry, cuts down on the amount of soil needed, allows for proper drainage, and is ideal for shallow-rooted succulents. I especially love this idea because the empty containers can be used in your planters year after year. Just make sure your containers are tightly sealed with lids or caps before use.
#6 Buy in Bulk and Refill Your Empties
If all else fails, simply refill your empty milk bath containers. We sell 1-pound bags of shredded milk bath right here on our website. Just find the milk bath scent you’d like to buy in bulk here and change the size from “Milk Bath (7oz.)” to “Bulk Shredded (1 pound)” and you’re well on your way to refill heaven.
A 1-pound bag of milk bath can refill a regular 7oz milk bath container nearly 2.5x. That’s a lot of milk baths, folks! This is a great way to reduce, reuse, and recycle Bend Soap Co. style.
Back to You
The next time you have an empty milk bath container on hand, we hope you come back to this blog and take us up on one of these upcycle ideas! Drop a comment below and let us know if you gave any of these upcycled plastic milk bath container ideas a try or plan to do one the next time you’ve got an empty container on your hands.
What other ways do you like to reuse your empties? Share your thoughts and inspire others below.