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How to Choose the Right Hand Soap for Your Facility

If you are a facility manager, you have a lot on your plate. You are the one responsible for so much of the behind-the-scenes operations to keep an office, plant, or other building running smoothly. Managing the purchasing, usage, and restocking of consumable items, such as paper towels, toilet paper, various cleaners, and hand soaps, may be a big portion of your job. Since these items are used daily, finding ways to select the right ones that are not only effective but also affordable for the long-term is important.

This primer is designed to help you select the best hand soap for your facility by guiding you through common questions. It will review several of the key differentiating factors that you should consider when making this decision.

Why is Handwashing Important?

During the recent global COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of handwashing has been frequently discussed by the media. However, it's been a well-known fact for centuries that handwashing is an important way to prevent the spread of various diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing can prevent about 30% of diarrhea-related illnesses and about 20% of respiratory infections.

As a facilities manager, you can play an important role helping to encourage good handwashing habits by posting signs illustrating proper handwashing techniques, ensuring that dispensers are in good working order, and stocking the right type of hand soap in your buildings.

Do I Need Antibacterial Soap?

Most hand soaps contain ingredients called surfactants, which break the bonds that exist between dirt, oil, and water. When this occurs, it becomes possible to remove these compounds effectively from your hands. The physical act of handwashing aided by surfactants removes many germs during the handwashing process.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, some studies have shown that regular hand soap is just as effective as some soaps marketed as antibacterial varieties. In addition, there is some concern about antibiotic resistance due to an overuse of antibacterial products. As a result, regular, non-antibacterial hand soaps are typically an acceptable choice for most general-use environments, like offices, schools, commercial buildings, and facilities.

Hand soaps that are marketed as antibacterial soaps contain an active ingredient, such as benzalkonium chloride, chloroxylenol, or benzethonium chloride, that kills germs on contact. These heavy-duty germ fighters may be a good choice in more critical settings, like healthcare facilities, labs, or other buildings that have a higher-than-average exposure to germs.

What’s the Difference Between Foaming and Liquid Hand Soap?

Both liquid hand soap and foaming varieties are found in public buildings and commercial facilities today. Both are effective in cleansing hands, but each may offer different advantages.

Some preliminary research shows that liquid hand soaps may clean hands more effectively, due to the fact that the individual must rub their hands together to build a lather, resulting in a longer handwashing period.

However, foaming hand soaps may result in some long-term cost savings, as both less soap and water is typically used with every wash.

Are Moisturizers in Hand Soaps Necessary?

Some hand soaps contain moisturizing ingredients, and you may wonder as a facilities manager whether these ingredients are important for the occupants in your building, office, or plant.

Frequent handwashing can lead to dry skin, so if you’re responsible for a facility that requires a significant amount of handwashing, such as a restaurant, lab, healthcare facility, or food manufacturing plant, you may want to consider a moisturizing hand soap.

In addition, the location of your facility makes a difference. If your building is located in a climate where winters are very cold and harsh, it may be particularly important to stock a moisturizing hand soap during the winter season. However, if your office, school, or commercial building is located in a more humid, warm climate, this may not be as important.

Common moisturizing ingredients include aloe vera, shea or cocoa butter, milk protein, vegetable-based oils, coconut oil, and vitamin E. Glycerin is another common ingredient, which draws moisture from the air to the skin as well as forms a protective barrier to prevent moisture loss.

Should I Use a Fragrant Hand Soap?

Another decision point for facilities managers is whether you should stock a scented hand soap or one that is fragrance free.

While a fragrant soap can add a certain type of ambiance, many facilities opt for a fragrance-free variety. Individuals vary greatly on which scents are pleasant or unpleasant, and many people may have sensitivities or allergies to fragrances today. A wide number of fragrance-free and scent-free hand soaps are available.

What Do I Need to Consider Regarding Dispensers?

An important consideration in choosing a hand soap for a facility is which type of soap dispensers are currently installed. You’ll want to make sure you select a hand soap that is compatible with your current equipment, unless you are planning to replace dispensers in the near future.

Some proprietary dispensers will only accept a certain type or brand of soap. They may require specific refill packs with proprietary nozzles or attachments, which limits your ability to shop around for different products. Universal bulk dispensers, however, give facility managers the flexibility to select and use the brand of soap they feel is best for their facility.

One type of dispenser that is growing in popularity is the touch-free hand soap dispenser, which uses motion or heat sensors to prompt dispensing for a single handwashing. Touch-free dispensers can reduce the spread of germs by reducing the areas that individuals contact in a restroom and can help reduce wastage of hand soap as well.

What Is the Price per Ounce?

Since hand soap is one of those things you’ll need to purchase on an ongoing basis, be sure to consider the price per ounce, not the case cost of the soap. In addition, remember that many dispensers vary in the amount of soap that is dispensed per use. You should also consider any bulk or volume discounts that you may be able to obtain before making a final decision.

Although there may be only pennies difference per ounce, those costs will add up over time. Be sure you obtain other value-adds if you choose a more expensive product.

Where Should I Purchase Hand Soap?

Many companies sell commercial hand soap products, so you may wonder what the difference is between the vendors.

When you select Jon-Don to provide your hand soap products, you’re really entering into a partnership with an expert in janitorial and cleaning services and supplies. Our team is made up of knowledgeable experts with years of real-world knowledge. We offer a huge selection of products from top brands and provide the industry's best guarantee for total peace of mind. Jon-Don also offers same-day shipping on all orders of our in-stock products if placed by 5 p.m.

For help in choosing the right hand soap and dispenser for your facility, call a Jon-Don expert today at 800-556-6366.