Washing with soap – not just water – is vital to proper hygiene. This is because while water is powerful at rinsing away dirt, it cannot easily remove soil or organisms that are attached to the hands. Soap is able to do this very effectively, maximizing the rinsing benefit of the water.
Despite this, in recent times some manufacturers have promoted smaller and smaller hand soap dosages, enabling them to claim an economic benefit due to more doses per liter of soap. Sadly, such claims are not supported by evidence and indeed product testing has shown that low dosage levels do not, in many instances, result in cleaning any better than using water alone, leaving people misled and potentially at risk of spreading infections despite their own best and well-intended efforts.
So how much soap should you use, and what type? Foaming hand soap has been demonstrated to enable a significant reduction in the environmental impact of commercial washrooms through a combination of water and energy savings and lower chemical impact compared to traditional liquid soaps. Foam soaps also cover more hand surface area per dose, providing a more effective wash.
A recent test concluded that a dose of 0.7ml is the lowest dose sufficient to comfortably spread across all surfaces of most people’s hands. Therefore, the test concludes that this dose is the best balance between required effectiveness and economics. Many manufacturers suggest using much lower doses however in testing, a dose of 0.4ml only covered 53 percent of the hand surface area and did not produce a cleaning result any better than water alone. Using the optimal amount of foam soap is necessary to produce clean, bacteria-free hands.
Why is Handwashing Important?
A typical person's hand can carry many millions of bacteria, some of which are naturally found on our bodies (the human microbiome) and some of which are pathogens (otherwise known as “germs”). Also, some bacteria or viruses may be harmless to one person but can cause illness in others. For these reasons, we can never fully know what we are carrying or what impact it may have on those around us. Proper handwashing at all times whether healthy or not is vital to preventing the spread of germs throughout the workplace.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps people can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Frequent and thorough handwashing is the single best way to protect yourself and others against the seasonal flu, colds and other infections throughout the year. This leads to less sick days, increased worker productivity and improved employee morale. By preventing the spread of germs, you can create a more productive and healthier working environment.
Why Use Foam Soap?
Did you know, the world’s first generic foaming soap system was launched in 1999 by Deb? Today, most wall-mounted commercial foam soap dispensers sold in the world still utilize Deb’s dispensing technology.
Many Deb products incorporate our pioneering ‘Deb Foam Technology®’, providing a different skin care experience and surpassing traditional skin care products by providing the following benefits:
- Greater convenience — products are quicker and easier to use
- Increased efficiency — delivering improved efficacy and lower usage costs
- Preferred by users — quick and pleasant to use
- Reduced environmental impact — less packaging waste and water consumption
- Water Saving — Independent research, commissioned by Deb Group, shows that organizations could use up to 45% less water by switching from lotion soap to Deb’s foam soap.
 “Optimizing Foam Soap Dose for Hand Washing”; Deb Group, January 2012
 “Soap Suds and Savings”; Durrant, A.; McKay, A.; Sustainable Business, August/September 2011, 32-33
About the Author
Patrick Boshell is the Marketing Director for Deb Canada and the managing editor for Deb Group's Hand Hygiene, Infection Prevention and Food Safety blog. He's been actively involved in the Canadian commercialization of several Deb innovations including Optidose InstantFOAM Hand Sanitizer for healthcare and GrittyFOAM Heavy Duty Hand Cleaner for manufacturing and industrial applications.
Patrick is an advocate for making hand hygiene contagious in the workplace. He is also a social media enthusiast, using tools such as LinkedIN and Twitter to help educate the importance of effective hand hygiene and skin care to a global audience. To connect with Patrick, please contact him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.