FAQ + Care Instructions



How to clean your soap pump

  • Remove the pump from its base by unscrewing it.
  • Pump any soap or lotion out of the pump freeing any sitting liquid from the pump. You may want to remove the plastic tube as well for a more thorough cleaning.
  • Simply fill a cup or bowl with warm water (you may also add white vinegar for stubborn clogs) and pump the water through the dispenser pump. Please do not submerge or soak the pump. Continue to pump until water flows and pumps freely.
  • You may want to use a soft bristle brush or toothpick to assist with cleaning any hard to reach debris from your pump.
  • Discard any remaining water, pat dry and allow to dry fully.
  • Replace the tube into the pump and return the pump back onto its base.
  • It is highly recommended to clean the outside of the pump with a soft cloth and to flush your pump with warm water periodically (typically with each soap/lotion fill) to extend the life of your pump.


How to unclog your soap pump
If your pump is showing signs of clogging you may try the following steps to dislodge any debris such as dried soap or lotion.

  • Use a toothpick or skewer to dislodge debris.
  • Clean your pump by following the instructions above.
  • please note : If you have hard water/water softeners or water undrinkable from the tap, flushing your pump may cause finish damage. It is recommended to used distilled water to flush your pump. 

Maintaining your soap pump
It is recommended that you clean your dispenser monthly to remove soap and or lotion build up.  Please see “How to Clean Your Soap Pump” for instructions. 

Soap pumps will need to be cleaned periodically simply due to the nature of the product. Many times customers are accustomed to using disposable soap dispensers therefore never experiencing the use of any pump over a 2 month period because they simply throw them away. Like with any long-lived or non-disposable item, cleaning and care are necessary to ensure the life of the item. 



Why do Soap Pumps Clog?
If your soap dispenser pump is clogged there are a couple of reasons why this may occur.

  • Soap Type - Clogging can occur from a high amount of glycerin in soap; Glycerin based liquid soap tends to clog soap dispenser pumps. If you find that your natural soap is glycerin based which can cause clogging, we do recommend trying an olive oil base liquid soap or thinning your soap slightly by adding a bit of water. 
  • Infrequent Use - Another culprit of clogging is infrequent use of the soap pump. When soap or lotion sits inside the pump for a period of time it can dry, making it difficult to pump. 


Why is my pump accumulating a “green” patina color? 
Simply put.. oxidation. We have found that if cleaned frequently, the patina will subside. Additionally, a great trick is to rub the patina areas lightly with very small amount of Vaseline or beeswax. This will help to prevent air from reaching the surface.

What about Rust?
Rust typically occurs when the finish has worn and the raw metal is exposed to air and liquid. There are two common reasons why the finish may wear + occur in two common places ;

1 ) Sitting soap/lotion on the exit point of the pump. When soap sits on or in the exit point (where the soap/lotion exit the pump) the soap/lotion can break down the finish and over time begin to expose the raw metal beneath. 

To help prevent this from occurring, you want to periodically clean your pump. If you are finding that the soap is continuously building up around the tip, we recommend thinning the soap, trying a different brand with less glycerin or cleaning more frequently.  

One solution is simply rubbing a dab of Vaseline or beeswax around the tip of the exit point for further protection. Vaseline or beeswax has been a great solution for rust and hard water build up. 

2 ) Another area is the touch point of the pump. This is wherever you use your finger/hand to push the pump. Over time , and like with most finishes, touching and rubbing will eventually wear on the finish.

If you find that your pump is rusting in other areas, you may want to examine your pump closely for any sitting soap or sitting water areas that may be causing the issue.

In many cases, rust can be cleaned off by simply gently scrubbing the area with a non-scratch scouring pad or stay-clean scrub sponge. 

If you are experiencing rusting within the pump ; flushing with white vinegar + warm water is recommended.


Can hard water cause damage to my pump?

The simply answer is yes. Although not a common issue with Rail19 pumps, hard water can cause issues to the finish, and erode the metal beneath. By definition hard water is formed when water percolates through deposits of limestone and chalk which are largely made up of calcium and magnesium carbonates. If you are adding water to your soap and have hard water ; simply use distilled water instead. Additionally, you will want to dry any water from the pump if it is coming in contact with your hard water.


Can I use dish washing liquid in my dispenser?

Yes, and no. 

Concentrated soaps such as Dawn and Palmolive (and the like) can damage your pump quickly. Because dish soaps are very concentrated they tend to clog deep inside the pump and create a solid blockage. Over time, the dish washing soap will find another way out and damage the pump by breaking through other paths within the pump ; like the neck of the pump. The strain of pumping concentrated soaps can also seize the pump. Some dish soaps also have harsher chemicals that may lead to corrosion of the metal and finish. Additionally, sticking, dripping and clogging may occur with some dish soaps.

It is recommended that thinning your concentrated dish soap considerably or using a dish soap that is watery thin, or contains natural ingredients that are less chemically reactive and concentrated, renders the best results.


Foaming Dish Soap + DIY Foaming Dish Soap - the same rules apply as above. If you find that your foaming dish soap is clogging your foaming pump, simply clean your pump and dilute your soap to remedy the issue. 


What is "Soap Piling"?

Soap piling is when the soap dries inside or on the outer parts of the pump ; and "piles" by forming a mountain of dried soap and expands from its original liquid form. This is common with concentrated dish soaps ; but can happen with some lotions and hand soaps. You may see this occur most commonly on the outer spouts of dish soap bottles like dawn or Palmolive. Soap piling can cause significant damage to a soap pump by clogging the innards and damaging the spring action within. Keeping your pump free of concentrated soaps, and regular cleaning is recommended to extend the life of your pump. 


Why does my pump drip?

Depending on soap type, dripping can possibly happen when soap is concentrated, thick, or is glycerin based. Thicker soaps tend to sit at the top of the pump (rather than going back down) and will force itself out of the top at times. Simply try a thinner soap, oil based soap, or watering down your current soap to troubleshoot the issue.


Why is my soap spraying or "shooting" out?

Soap (or lotion) shooting is typically because the soap is drying inside the pump causing a cork affect. When the soap is released by use, the pressure causes a "shooting" spray. It is recommended that diluting the soap a bit to address the clogging within. 


How long will my pump last?

There are many factors when determining how long your pump will last. Care + Use are most important when extending the life of your pump. How often you clean your pump, what soap or lotion you use, if you have hard water, and how frequently your pump is used are the most common reasons for wear + tear. In our experience, our pumps can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before a replacement may be needed.

We find the typical pump found elsewhere may have a lifespan of about 1/2 that. We take great pride in our products and welcome you to contact us should you find that your pump is defective. Within 60 days of the purchase date, we will replace your pump against manufacturer's defects only. 


Are Rail19 Soap Dispensers Dishwasher Safe?

Yes + No. While our pumps are not dishwasher safe, the glass base is. Unless otherwise noted, our glass bases are top shelf dishwasher safe. Additionally, please do not use harsh chemicals or cleaners to clean your pump. 




Troubleshooting Tips for Liquid Soap / Lotion Pumps

  • Please check that the tube that connects to your pump is securely in place.
  • Please flush your pump in warm/hot water with a bit of vinegar to help dislodge any potential clogs, a toothpick may come in handy

Troubleshooting Tips for Foaming Soap Pumps

  • Please check that the small tube that leads to the pump is not pushed too far into the pump, pulling it out slightly. This allows for air to flow to create the foam. 
  • If the tube is coiled, you may trim it back to allow for easier pumping.
  • Please check that your foaming soap formula is not too thick or too thin. If you are creating your own soap, it is important to remember to create a 5 to 1 formula (5 parts water, 1 part soap)
  • If you are using Dr. Bronner's soap, please dilute your soap to a 5 1/2 water, 1/2 part soap.

At RAIL19 we are huge fans of Dr Bronner's soap. However, many Dr. Bronner's soaps contain a multitude of oils which can be very clogging (and eventually damaging) more often than not to foaming (and non-foaming) soap pumps. It is recommended that diluting Dr. Bronner's soap twice as much as you typically would with other soaps will extend the life of your pump and help prevent clogging.