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When choosing a soap dispenser reservoir system, typically, the decision leans towards a commercial refillable soap dispenser due to cost efficiency. However, what tends to be overlooked are the potential consequences that have a broader impact on washroom design, maintenance, hygiene, and user experience. This oversight can actually result in higher costs in the long run.

In our experience, we have come across numerous washroom projects that initially chose a commercial refillable soap dispenser, but due to various factors, these soap systems ended up failing, leading to the replacement of both soap dispensers and the entire soap reservoir system.

That is why we have compiled this article – to provide you with a clearer understanding of the potential risks in choosing a commercial refillable soap dispenser, why washroom companies still sell this system, and what you can do to prevent your soap dispenser from failing.

Risks of refillable hand soap bottles and bulk fill systems

Stainless steel refillable automatic soap dispenser

1. Soap contamination

First and foremost, refillable dispenser bottles and bulk fill soap reservoirs are particularly prone to bacterial contamination due to their open protocol and placement in public washrooms, creating an optimal breeding ground for bacteria.

The need to open and expose a commercial refillable soap dispenser to air during replenishment introduces a vulnerability, allowing bacteria and foreign particles from the surrounding air to infiltrate the soap bottle.

The frequent handling of a commercial refillable soap dispenser during a top up, especially with hands that may not be thoroughly clean, can also transfer bacteria onto the reservoir’s surface. Residue buildup from soap and water, and inadequate cleaning further contribute to bacterial growth.

Hands using a refillable manual soap dispenser

2. Users falling ill

An inadequately cleaned commercial refillable soap dispenser can lead to users falling ill due to soap contamination.

Washing hands with contaminated soap can result in skin problems like rashes, irritation, dryness, and increased skin sensitivity. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to infected soap with Gram-negative bacilli, which are bacteria known for causing infections and commonly found in healthcare settings, can lead to various health issues. These may include symptoms such as fever, redness, swelling, and general discomfort.

A commercial washroom using wall mounted manual soap dispenser

3. Soap dispenser failure

Another consequence of soap contamination is a soap dispenser’s internal mechanisms can be compromised as the soap congeals. This leads to problems like clogs, malfunctioning pumps, and a general decline in performance – all stemming from soap contamination within a commercial refillable soap dispenser reservoir.

Commercial refillable soap dispenser reservoir installed behind a mirror

4. Higher maintenance and labour costs

The consequences of a faulty commercial refillable soap dispenser leads to higher maintenance costs due to labour intensive cleaning, potential parts replacement, specialised cleaning agents, downtime, and adherence to safety protocols.

Complex soap dispenser designs or automatic soap dispensers can also contribute to additional expenses due to their intricate mechanisms, advanced technology, and special maintenance requirements.

Touch free commercial soap dispenser

5. Commercial soap dispenser replacement costs

When a soap dispenser fails to the point where it needs to be replaced due to issues stemming from bacterial contamination and other factors, it can lead to significant repercussions and increased expenses.

You are left not only footing the bill for new soap dispensers but also juggling installation hassles and operational disruptions. It is a costly cycle that continues to revolve, stemming from soap contamination within a commercial refillable soap dispenser and the absence of a proper maintenance or cleaning regimen.

Learn more about bulk fill dispenser risks and solutions from personal experience, with insights gained from a washroom project that didn’t go as planned.

Why do washroom companies supply bulk fill hand soap dispensers if there are risks?

A commercial refillable soap dispenser is a suitable option for those looking to reduce initial costs and have flexibility in purchasing soap from different soap suppliers.

It’s not all bad news, some commercial washrooms have bulk refill systems that are still reliable, well maintained, and functional, aligning with the WELL Standard due to proper cleaning and maintenance schedules.

Washroom companies must also strive to maintain their competitive edge in the market while also aspiring to provide their clients with a diverse range of solutions tailored to their individual preferences.

Two automatic bulk soap dispensers installed behind mirrors

How to prevent soap dispensers from failing

Understanding the proper way to refill commercial soap dispensers is important. It helps avoid bulk fill soap dispenser issues and keeps your washroom in line with WELL Building Standards.

While the likelihood of liquid or foaming soap becoming contaminated in a commercial refillable soap dispenser system is high, there remains a possibility to reduce this risk. This involves facility teams and janitorial service providers taking on the responsibility of ensuring regular maintenance and upholding proper cleaning practices.

Learn more about soap dispenser maintenance and how to refill soap dispenser reservoirs effectively.

Multifeed system soap dispensers installed in a commercial washroom

Choose a soap system that is right for your washroom

Before finalising your decision, it is a good idea to think about the potential risks associated with a commercial refillable soap dispenser, particularly after project handover, as well as the potential consequences resulting from the bacteria in refillable soap dispensers.

The initial cost of a commercial refillable soap dispenser might align better with your budget. However, if such issues do arise, you could potentially face a costly exercise involving soap dispenser and reservoir replacements or repairs, along with significant maintenance and cleaning expenses. There is even the possibility of needing to replace the entire soap system, a situation we have observed in numerous washroom projects.

If you need help choosing the right soap dispenser, soap reservoir, or multifeed system dispensers for your washroom or need advice on commercial soap dispenser refill solutions, our experienced washroom consultants are here to assist. They can give you guidance to reduce the risk of soap contamination and help you with this situation before it becomes a significant problem.