After you use the restroom – particularly in public facilities like schools, offices, gyms and airports – you are expected to go to the sink and wash your hands. Although the routine is familiar, the type of soap dispenser typically varies from one facility to another. Some restrooms employ touchless, automatic soap dispensers while others offer a manual option, and some even have another dispenser for hand sanitizer near the exit.
Public restrooms started replacing bar soaps with liquid soap dispensers after studies in the 1960s found that bar soaps were often contaminated with bacteria. These high-touch surfaces have prompted several pervasive myths in the public marketplace. Let’s take a deeper dive into a few of the most common misconceptions surrounding soap dispensers.
Mistakes and Misconceptions
However, sealed dispensing systems are “closed” and are refilled by inserting a sealed soap cartridge into the dispenser, minimizing the risk of bacterial contamination. This method eliminates contact between the product and the environment before the product is being used to wash hands. The risk of contamination is reduced to a minimum.
The use of antimicrobial technology is also effective in reducing the number of germs on soap dispensers. A recent study found a clear reduction in the total number of bacteria present on various surfaces and products treated with BioCote®.
Many people don’t know that there is a proper amount of soap to use when washing their hands. When hands are visually dirty, users will wash until they appear clean, but the greater challenge is effective microbial cleansing, which is more difficult to assess at a glance. 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.
So how much soap should you use? A 2012 study reported that 0.7ml of foam soap is the optimum single dose. Unfortunately, the study also found that 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. Therefore, it’s important to work with a reputable manufacturer when selecting dispensers for your facility.
There are a variety of dispensers on the market today, and none of them are created equal. From manual to automatic, bag-in-box to cartridge and wall to counter mounted dispensers, each one is refilled and operated a little differently. For example, a collapsible bag with liquid soap ensures less wasted product, but a foaming soap dispenser has a lower environmental impact. Each has their own specific benefits, so it’s important to research your options thoroughly before deciding on which dispenser is best for your facility.
Deciding on a Dispenser
Debunking the myths around dispensers is essential because hand hygiene has a direct impact on our health. In fact, most communicable diseases are transferred by hands. Keeping hands clean can prevent the spread of dangerous illnesses and protect against risks such as the flu, food poisoning and other healthcare associated infections.
When deciding what dispensing program to implement for your business, it’s essential to do your research and be aware of misleading information. Each business is unique, so take the time to engage in thoughtful product selection and choose the system that works best for you.
For information on Deb Group’s dispensing systems, visit www.debgroup.com.
 Lorenz, L., Ramsay, B., Goeres, D., Fields, M., Zapka, C., Macinga, D. Evaluation and remediation of bulk soap dispensers for biofilm, Biofouling 2012; 28:1 99-109
 “Optimizing Foam Soap Dose for Hand Washing”; Deb Group, January 2012
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