Where to find free toiletries, sanitary products and nappies in the UK
Millions are struggling to afford basic hygiene products in the UK. Our guide shows you how to access free and low-cost toiletries, sanitary products, nappies and more, to help you stay healthy and save money
You could get free toiletries for yourself or your children to help in the cost of living crisis. Image: Pexels
If you are finding it difficult to afford hygiene products, you are far from alone. Nearly 3.2 million people are in hygiene poverty across the UK. People are sacrificing toilet paper and soap, toothpaste and sanitary towels. While that simply should not be the case, there are incredible organisations across the country helping out by offering free toiletries, sanitary products and nappies to people in need.
People may be prioritising hot water and food for their children and have no money left for their own hygiene. But there’s a stigma attached to hygiene poverty, with almost half of people affected too embarrassed to ask for help.
Here is everything you need to know about finding free toiletries, free sanitary products and free nappies and baby products in the cost of living crisis.
Where do I find free toiletries near me?
Low-income families can find free toiletries through charities, shelters and community organisations. You can speak to a healthcare professional and your local council about the support available near you.
The Hygiene Bank is a UK-based charity that collects and distributes hygiene and personal care products to people in need. They work with food banks, homeless shelters, and community centres, to distribute the products. If you need help, the Hygiene Bank will try to signpost you to a partner organisation in its network that can support you.
You could try out sites like Clicks Research – recommended by MoneySavingExpert – to test products for big-name brands such as Boots, M&S, Sanctuary, Body Shop and Liz Earle. You offer to test and review the products, and they send you them free of charge!
Home Tester Club also gives out free products to test and all you have to do is leave an honest review on its site. Recent products have included Garnier moisturising cream and a Nivea serum.
There is also the Boots Volunteer Panel through which you can test big-name products including No7, Soltan, Soap & Glory, Botanics and Champneys. They’re currently recruiting a diverse panel of testers (but it’s a strict criteria and you might not get a place). Or you could have a go at filling out surveys with Toluna, which gives out freebies like L’Oreal make-up and Bic razors.
If you are on a low-income, you might also be able to get grants to cover the costs of toiletries and more. You can find out what grants might be available to you using Turn2Us’ grant search on the charity’s website. There is more about cost of living help available here.
You can get free tampons, sanitary towels and other period products across the UK. Many community groups and charities, such as Bloody Good Period, Period Poverty and the Hey Girls initiative, provide free period products to those in need through community partners. This includes food banks, homeless shelters, hostels, women’s refuges and more.
In Scotland, local authorities, schools and universities have been provided with funding to supply free period products. Contact your local council to find out where you can access free products in your local area. The app PickupMyPeriod directs users to hundreds of locations in Scotland where you will be able to find free period products. These include leisure centres, libraries and community centres.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, people can get free period products in schools and colleges. Some universities and students unions will also provide free sanitary products.
Sexual health clinics and community contraceptive clinics will also often provide free period products or information about where to find them in your local area, as will council buildings.
Many food banks in the UK provide free period products. The Trussell Trust has a map on its website where you can find one near you, and you can also use the Independent Food Aid Network’s interactive map.
Women and girls receiving treatment in hospitals and other health settings can request pads, pantyliners and tampons when they need them.
Where do I find free nappies and baby products?
There are more than 200 baby banks across the UK where you can find free nappies, wipes, equipment, clothes and more for your baby or toddler. Find your local baby bank through Little Village’s interactive map.
Charity Baby Basics supports new parents across the country who are struggling to meet the financial and practical burden of looking after a new baby. Volunteers work with midwives, health visitors and other professionals to provide support directly where it is most needed, so it is worth speaking to a trusted healthcare professional if you need help.
Keep an eye out for free nappies being given away on websites like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, or discounts being offered by nappy companies. Pampers has offers through its members club – with chances to win a year’s supply of free nappies as well as other coupons for wipes and nappies.
Your local health authority’s incontinence service may be able to supply items such as larger nappies, pads and bedding protection once your child is over a certain age. Talk to your GP or health visitor for more information.
Low-income families could get a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a baby in England and Wales, known as the Sure Start Maternity Grant. You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within six months after the baby’s birth. In Scotland, you can get the Pregnancy and Baby Payment instead.
The Big Issue’s #BigFutures campaign is calling for investment in decent and affordable housing, ending the low wage economy, and millions of green jobs. The last 10 years of austerity and cuts to public services have failed to deliver better living standards for people in this country. Sign the open letter and demand a better future.