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Bulk-Fill Soap Dispenser vs. Sealed Soap Dispenser: Which is the Better Choice for My Facility?

Bulk-Fill Soap Dispenser vs. Sealed Soap Dispenser: Which is the Better Choice for My Facility?

You may have heard of both bulk-fill soap dispensers and sealed soap dispensers before, but do you know what the differences are? 

Most people only compare refill costs, tank capacity, or how involved the maintenance is, while few think to consider which is more hygienic. 

In reality, hygiene may just be the most important difference between the two dispensers. One of these soap dispensers has the ability to significantly increase restroom hygiene, reduce the risk of cross-contamination, and decrease staff sick days while the other actually promotes each of those factors. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between bulk-fill vs. sealed dispensers and help you decide which is the best one for your facility.

Let’s break down exactly what the key differences between these two types of dispensers are in order to understand what makes one so much more hygienic

Bulk-fill soap dispensers use an open soap system.

Open soap systems are designed to have a removable cover or lid that allows for easy access to an open reservoir inside the device. The open reservoir and removable lid make refilling soap far more efficient. 
The process is simple, all you have to do is remove the cover or open the lid and pour soap into the open reservoir. 

Its biggest selling point is that there’s a lot less cost involved with maintaining a bulk-fill soap dispenser.

Soap is bought in bulk, allowing you to spend less and get more. Compare that to the sealed soap dispenser, which requires individual cartridges to be refilled. On top of that, the bulk-fill dispenser itself is usually cheaper than the sealed air dispenser. 

You may be wondering, what’s the downside? Well, bulk-fill soap dispensers can be unhygienic, especially compared to sealed soap dispensers.

One study tested over 500 bulk-fill soap dispensers in public areas and the result came back stating that nearly 130 of the dispensers contained unsafe levels of bacteria.

That’s just under 25%. How is that possible? 

Bulk-fill hand soap dispensers are very unhygienic is because of one of the same reasons that they’re so convenient, the open soap system. 

When these dispensers are opened to be refilled, airborne bacteria can enter the open reservoir. That means all the washroom germs, including fecal matter and other airborne viruses, are mixing with the soap that’s supposed to clean your hands. 

But that’s not all. If the interior reservoir isn’t washed periodically, then the bacteria that goes in just keeps piling up.

Eventually, the reservoir will be brimming with bacteria. As new soap is added on top of the contaminated soap, bacteria gets pushed further down into the dispenser. At this point, it’s not uncommon for biofilm to develop.

Biofilm is resistant to most common disinfectants, making it a hassle to deal with. What’s worse is that the biofilm adapts to the soap environment it developed in, making it even more resistant to traditional disinfectants than it already is. 

Sealed soap dispensers are a modern alternative to bulk-fill soap dispensers.

Instead of having an open reservoir that the product can be poured directly into, it uses sealed replacement cartridges.

The cartridges are completely sealed, meaning that they can’t be reused, nor can they be opened or tampered with. As a result, it can be more expensive to operate a sealed soap dispenser. That being said, there are several benefits to using one.  

The refill process is quick and effortless, which leads to time saved on labor. Additionally, less time is required to be spent on cleaning and disinfecting the dispenser and its exterior casing. 

While these time-saving benefits may not outweigh the bulk-fill dispenser’s lower upfront cost, the real tradeoff comes in the form of superior hygiene for your employees and customers. Ultimately, fewer sick employees, less occupant illness, and an overall healthier facility will save you money int he long run.

Yes, sealed soap dispensers are more hygienic! 

Sealed soap dispensers use a closed soap system, the opposite of the bulk-fill dispenser’s open soap system. That means that the soap inside of each cartridge cannot be exposed to air, physical touch, or any other environmental hazards that might introduce germs and bacteria. 

By using a closed soap system, the sealed soap dispenser effectively combats the transmission of germs and bacteria by reducing the risk of contamination to a minimum. 

Let’s take a look at two real-life examples of how a sealed soap dispenser is more hygienic than a bulk-fill soap dispenser. 

In a field study performed at an active elementary school, the hands of students and staff were inspected twice, once after using a bulk-fill soap dispenser and once after using a sealed soap dispenser. The results were staggering. 

It found that, after washing their hands with soap from a bulk-fill soap dispenser in the school, the bacteria count on student and staff hands increased by about 2500%. As for the sealed soap dispenser, bacteria decreased by roughly 200%. 

The same study found that the average amount of bacteria transferred between surfaces after using soap from a sealed soap dispenser was significantly lower than the average amount of bacteria transferred between surfaces after using soap from a bulk-fill soap dispenser. 

Final Thoughts

While sealed soap dispensers may sound less cost-effective at first, just think of how much more your facility will benefit in the long run.  

Think of how bacteria won’t spread as easily, how that will likely reduce the number of illnesses and staff sick days, or how much time and labor will be saved by the increased efficiency in cleaning and refilling soap dispensers. 

This is all to say that, by investing in sealed soap dispensers, you’re investing in the health, wellness, and productivity of your employees. 

If you still have questions about whether sealed soap dispensers are the best option for your budget and business needs, consider reaching out to the Imperial Dade facility nearest you.

By calling or emailing today, you can set up a free consultation with one of our chemicals and sanitation experts who will be able to answer any questions you may have about updating the soap dispensers in your facility. 

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