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How to Choose the Right Soap or Sanitizer Dispenser for your Campus: 7 Considerations

How to Choose the Right Soap or Sanitizer Dispenser for your Campus: 7 Considerations

College and university campuses are at an increased risk of germ spread and illness because students often spend most of their time in dorms, classrooms, and other shared spaces like cafeterias, restrooms, and recreational centers.

Illness-causing germs, bacteria, and viruses are easily transmitted directly through contact between people, and indirectly via surfaces such as door handles. Thankfully, handwashing and sanitizing can greatly reduce the risk of germ spread.

According to the CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention), hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease.

While extremely important, many people only wash their hands when in the restroom or before eating a meal, and even then, they’re likely not washing their hands as often as they should be.

As a result, adding hand sanitizer dispensers or stands throughout your facility is a great way to help strengthen your hand hygiene program.

Easily accessible hand sanitizer stands help students and faculty keep their hands clean and reduce the spread of germs, especially as they transition from classroom to classroom, use the restroom, head to lunch, and travel about campus.

Commercial soap and sanitizer dispensers play a significant role in promoting proper hand hygiene.

To build the best hand hygiene program, you’ll need to identify the right type of hand soap and hand sanitizer dispensers for your college or university.

There are numerous commercial soap and sanitizer dispensers available on the market, and choosing the right one means taking into account a variety of factors.

We’ll only review dispensing system considerations for dispensers that accept hygienically sealed refill cartridges and not bulk refills due to the increased risk of cross-contamination.

Below, we’ve put together some of the key considerations you should keep in mind when determining what the right dispensing system will be for your campus.

How to Choose a Hand Soap Dispenser for Your School 

Key Considerations Include:

  1. Campus Layout
  2. Level of Traffic
  3. Dispenser Material
  4. Soap Type
  5. Dispenser Service Requirements 
  6. Campus Safety
  7. Environmental Sustainability

1. Campus Layout 

Where will you put the hand soap and sanitizer dispensers on your campus?

When considering the type of dispensers to add to your hand hygiene program, you’ll want to identify where you will be placing them to make sure you select the right dispensers.

Space is one of the greatest concerns that will impact what type of dispenser(s) you choose. For example, in smaller restrooms, a small, wall-mounted soap dispenser could give your students and staff more room, while larger restrooms may have the room but need a system with greater soap capacity to meet the increased foot traffic.

Both hand sanitizer and soap dispensers are offered in different styles to help you create a safer environment.

Hand Soap Dispenser Styles 

Soap dispensers can either be counter mounted or hung on the walls or shelves in your restrooms.

Wall-Mounted Dispensers 

Sanitizer Drip TrayWall-mounted units are hung on the wall. Wall-mounted units maximize counter space and are designed to fit where many traditional dispensers couldn’t fit. Wall-mounted units must be affixed to the wall.

This type of dispenser typically offers more versatile designs. These units can be manual pump or battery operated.

Countermount Dispensers 

Countermount units are installed directly into the counter or placed on top. Countermount dispensers are placed close enough to the sink bay that they typically release soap over the sink, limiting soap waste and reducing counter top cleanup.

Many times, these dispensers actually look similar in appearance to a faucet.  Countermount dispensers typically allow for a greater soap reservoir under the sink so that it needs to be replaced less often when compared to wall-mounted dispensers. However, they may cost more than wall-mounted dispensers.

Countermount dispensers can be manual or automatic/hands-free. Hands-free dispensers are either hardwired or battery-powered.

Hand Sanitizer Dispenser Styles  

Similar to soap dispensers, hand sanitizer dispensers can be wall-mounted. However, hand sanitizer dispensers can also be freestanding so that you can place them anywhere throughout your campus.

The placement of hand sanitizing stands is important. They should be placed in highly visible areas where there is a lot of traffic. This includes entrances to classrooms and any other areas throughout the facility where students enter or exit from another area.

Hand sanitizer gives students and faculty the ability to quickly kill germs on their hands. This is important given that a study performed by the American Cleaning Institute found the most common reason students don’t wash their hands is lack of time. Sanitizers are a great option for overcoming that weakness.

2. Level of Traffic 

How many people visit and travel throughout your campus in a day? One of the most important factors you’ll need to consider is the level of traffic in the area where you will be placing dispensers.

Areas with a lot of foot traffic will need high capacity, durable dispensers to withstand frequent use and limit soap or sanitizer runout.

High Capacity Dispensers

High capacity systems are built to deliver more dispenses per soap or sanitizer refill.

In some cases, dispensers can provide greater than 2,500 dispenses per soap or sanitizer bottle or cartridge.

These units can vary in size and some may not be aesthetically pleasing or fit in the desired footprint, however, smaller, sleeker high capacity dispensers are available.

Integrating a high-capacity system into your facility will reduce the number of times your staff has to refill or replace soap and sanitizer cartridges, improving productivity so they can spend time on other cleaning tasks.

3. Dispenser Material 

Commercial soap and sanitizer dispensers can be made from a variety of materials, each offering unique benefits depending on your campus’ needs.


Tork PeakServe MiniPlastic dispensers are the least expensive and most popular style.

They can be made from a variety of plastic types and colors. Additionally, these dispensers offer the greatest selection of sizes and fits.

Stainless Steel 

Stainless steel soap dispensers are great for heavy traffic areas, providing durability.

Given the strength and robustness of stainless steel, it is a great choice for bathrooms with high traffic and frequent refilling and cleaning as the surface will not rust – helping you achieve a sleek, high-class look.

This material is also a good option for areas of your campus that may be subject to vandalism or increased dispenser abuse because of its sturdiness.

4. Soap Type 

Does the type of soap matter? You can choose between foam and liquid soap dispensers.

In short, there is no clear difference in the efficacy of liquid soaps versus foam soaps.

However, you have the option to choose between a variety of fragrances. Depending on the setting you may want a fresh, vibrant-smelling soap. Other situations may need fragrance-free soap.

5. Dispenser Service Requirements 

Purell Healthy Soap Bundle-1You’ll likely be placing soap and sanitizer dispensers throughout several different areas of your facility. As a result, you may look into different types of dispensers to meet the needs of those areas.

Empty or out-of-service dispensers can lead to complaints and a gap in your campus hygiene. You’ll want to have a consistent and easy maintenance schedule to ensure your cleaning staff can keep all of your commercial skincare dispensers in operating condition.

Ideally, you’ll want to use the same dispenser across your entire campus. Choosing dispensers that accept the same type of refill can help make for quicker and easier maintenance, increasing your cleaning staff’s productivity.

6. Campus Safety 

Is there a high risk of damage to dispensers in certain parts of your facility? For example, on large campuses, some facilities or areas may be at an increased risk of dispenser damage, vandalism, or abuse.

Carefully select a dispenser that can be secured to the wall or area. There are many dispensers with anti-theft features to minimize loss.

As mentioned earlier, if parts of your campus are subject to vandalism or abuse, look for sturdier dispensers such as those made from stainless steel or other impact-resistant materials.

7. Environmental Sustainability 

Finally, you’ll probably want to ask yourself, how important is sustainability on your campus?

As a college or university, you likely have sustainability goals and green purchasing requirements that you are trying to meet. A commercial skincare program can help you meet your goals. Commercial soap and sanitizer dispensers can be made from recyclable plastic. The refill which the dispensers use can also be sustainable.

Recyclable Refill Units 

Soap and sanitizer refill bottles and cartridges vary in construction.

For example, there are cartridges or refill bottles that can be engineered from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), plastic number 1, the most widely accepted recyclable plastic. Once used, simply recycle the bottle.

Other eco-friendly refills can be derived from 25% post-consumer recycled material, helping to lower your ecological footprint.

Depending on your goals there are likely several options available to meet them. Other sustainable options include dispensers that can be paired with new, innovative refill bottles or cartridges that are designed for 99% or more product elimination. Meaning that nearly all of the soap or sanitizer will be dispensed from the bottle or cartridge before requiring a refill. This eliminates soap waste and associated costs.

Final Thoughts

There are so many commercial hand soap and sanitizer dispensers on the market and choosing the right one can sometimes seem overwhelming.

Using the considerations above, you should be able to narrow down which dispenser options might work for your campus.

Imperial Dade locations offer a variety of new, modern commercial soap and sanitizer dispensers that can help improve your campus’ hygiene and appearance.

In addition to helping your campus look better, selecting the right commercial skincare dispensers can help improve your cleaning staff’s productivity and achieve more.

If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Canada, and you’re looking to upgrade your commercial skin care program, we can perform an on-site evaluation of your facility to help you optimize your facility’s hand hygiene program. Contact a specialist to schedule a time today!

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