How To Open A Soap Dispenser [Two Methods]

If you're like many homeowners, you've replaced the messy, inconvenient bars of soap in your kitchen and bathroom with liquid soap. And, you may have opted to purchase refillable soap dispensers rather than simply throwing away the plastic container each time you empty a bottle of soap. One thing you probably didn't count on, though, is how challenging it can be to figure out how to open the dispenser to refill it. We've researched a wide variety of liquid soap dispensers, and we can help you figure out how to get yours open!

There are basically two methods of refilling a soap dispenser:

  1. Screw open a lid and pour the liquid soap into a reservoir.
  2. Operate a latch that allows you to open a panel to remove and replace a bag or cartridge.  

Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, it isn't always easy to locate the lid or the latch on your soap dispenser -- and sometimes, it seems as though every different model has its own trick for opening it. Keep reading, and we'll reveal how to access the insides of the most popular dispensers. We'll also show you two ways to open and refill a sink-mounted soap dispenser, and we'll clue you in on a couple of great hacks that make this job easier and mess-free! 

liquid soap dispenser on top of brown table, gray wall at the back. How To Open A Soap Dispenser [Two Methods]

How To Open A Soap Dispenser

Typical Countertop (Freestanding) Soap Dispensers

Because most countertop soap dispensers use bulk, liquid soap rather than pre-packaged bags or cartridges, they are usually very simple to open and refill. You unscrew a cap on the housing at the top of the reservoir bottle and pour liquid soap directly in until the reservoir is full; then, you screw the cap back on.     

Click here for the Secura countertop soap dispenser on Amazon.

Typical Wall-Mounted Soap Dispensers

Unlike countertop models, many wall-mounted soap dispensers use pre-packaged bags or plastic cartridges of liquid soap. This typically means that an entire panel, usually the front, of the dispenser must open for the old, empty bag to be removed and a new, full one to be put into place. If you've bought a commercial soap dispenser for your home, it may require you to use a key to unlock and open its front panel. Models intended for residential use typically have a button at the top or bottom that you push, releasing a latch inside the machine and allowing the front panel to swing open.   

Click here for a wall-mounted soap dispenser on Amazon.

How Do You Open A Gojo Soap Dispenser?

GOJO is a powerful hand cleaner often used by mechanics, construction workers, gardeners, and others whose hands become heavily soiled during work. If you have a GOJO dispenser in your garage or workshop, you may be wondering how to open it to remove a spent soap cartridge and replace it with a full one. 

The FMX-12 is the most common GOJO model used in household settings. To open it, you simply place your hands on the sides of the dispenser and squeeze. This causes a latch at the top of the unit to click open, freeing the dispenser's front to open forward and down, revealing the soap cartridge inside. Pull the spent cartridge out of the unit, replace it with a full one, and gently push the front of the dispenser back into place. When you hear the latch click back into place, the job is done.    

Click here for GOJO FMX-12 foaming soap dispenser on Amazon. 

How To Fill A Kitchen Sink Soap Dispenser

If your kitchen soap dispenser is counter-mounted with the soap reservoir inside the base cabinet and only the pump visible above the countertop, it can be challenging to refill the reservoir bottle. Below, we give you step-by-step instructions for the two most common ways to do this. Each method has its challenges, so we've also included two great hacks that make refilling your counter-mounted soap dispenser a breeze! 

Click here for a counter-mounted kitchen soap dispenser on Amazon.

From The Countertop

Most counter-mounted soap dispensers are now manufactured so that they can be refilled from above by simply removing the top and pouring liquid soap through the hole in the countertop and into the dispenser. Here we provide step-by-step instructions, followed by a hack that makes the process easy and mess-free! 

Traditional Method

The traditional method of filling your sink soap dispenser from above follows these steps:

  1. Grasp the pump (the part of the unit that is visible above the countertop).
  2. Turn the pump counterclockwise to unscrew it.
  3. Lift the pump and attached plastic tubing completely out of the dispenser.
  4. Pour liquid soap from your bulk refill container into the hole where the pump and tubing were.
  5. Continue until the reservoir (the bottle under the sink that holds the liquid soap) is full.
  6. Replace the pump, inserting the plastic tubing back into the reservoir, and screw the pump clockwise until it is securely mounted on the countertop.

The problem with this approach is that, as you pour the liquid soap into the small hole, there is no way for air in the reservoir to escape. So a big air bubble forms and forces the soap back upward and out at the top of the hole, making a mess on your countertop. You may have to go through the process of pouring soap out to let some of it bubble back out then, wiping the excess off your countertop four or five times before your reservoir is completely refilled.  This is both inconvenient and wasteful.  We have a hack that will help!    


Unscrew and remove the pump and tubing as described above. But, before you begin pouring soap into the hole in the countertop, insert a straw into the hole. Try to position the bottom end of the straw right at the level where the reservoir's neck touches the bottom of the counter. Now, as you pour soap through the hole and into the reservoir, air from the reservoir escapes through the straw, so none of the soap bubbles back up onto your countertop!

From Under The Sink

Another option for refilling your counter-mounted soap dispenser is to detach the reservoir bottle from the pump apparatus, fill it with liquid soap, and then re-attach it. While this may sound simple, most homeowners find it very inconvenient, as they have to get partway into the base cabinet under the sink to reach the reservoir bottle. Below, we'll give you step-by-step directions in case you want to try this. But we're also including a hack that allows you to replace that small reservoir bottle with a giant-sized one that won't need refilling for a long, long time!  

Traditional Method 

Typically, to refill your kitchen sink soap reservoir from under the counter, you have to follow these steps:

  1. Remove enough items from your under-sink cabinet to allow you to access the soap reservoir.
  2. Grasp the reservoir and turn it clockwise to unscrew it from its housing.
  3. Lift it off the housing, leaving the plastic tubing hanging down into the cabinet.
  4. Pour soap from a bulk refill bottle into the reservoir, up to the bottom of the reservoir's neck.
  5. Replace the reservoir in its housing, ensuring that the plastic tubing is hanging down in the liquid inside the reservoir.
  6. Screw the reservoir firmly into its housing, using a counterclockwise motion. 


Under-the-sink soap reservoirs are notoriously small, and refilling them is a cumbersome job. Wouldn't it be great if you could have a huge reservoir of soap under your kitchen counter so you wouldn't have to crawl into the cabinet and refill it every couple of weeks? Well, the hack below shows you exactly how to do that! Check it out!

How Do You Prime A Sink Soap Dispenser?

Most of the time, you can prime your sink soap dispenser by simply pumping it multiple times until soap fills the plastic tubing and begins coming out of the nozzle. However, sometimes this doesn't work if you're using a thick, heavy liquid soap. If you're having trouble getting your dispenser to work, try this:

  1. Place your thumb over the opening where the soap should be coming out.
  2. Still holding your thumb over the opening, press and release the dispenser button. Or, if you have a pump dispenser, push the pump all the way down and then release it.
  3. With your thumb still over the opening, allow the dispenser button or pump to return to its previous position.

This should prime the pump and get the soap flowing.

Can You Refill A Foaming Soap Dispenser With Regular Liquid Soap?

One disadvantage of using a foaming soap dispenser is that it can be difficult to find appropriate refills. You can get around this problem by using diluted liquid soap instead of foaming soap refill packages. Mix one part liquid soap with four parts water to render the mixture thin enough to pass through the special valves in a foaming dispenser. Never use undiluted liquid soap in a foaming soap dispenser: it will clog the valves and tubing.    

In Closing

Refillable liquid soap dispensers can be great for adding style, convenience, and hygiene to your bathroom and/or kitchen. But if, like many homeowners, you find refilling the dispensers messy and inconvenient -- or if you can't figure out how to open them at all -- you lose out on these benefits. By following the guidelines above, you can be sure that refilling your soap dispensers will be a breeze!   

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