Prior to COVID-19, the commercial cleaning industry was trending toward offering foam soap more than liquid or gels. That decision between the two options involves a couple of important considerations.

“Foam has a cost-saving aspect to it and a visual enhancement, as customers see that foam hit their hands with one pump,” says Gary Lynch, business development manager for Central Sanitary Supply in Modesto, California. “It gives them plenty of soap to wash their hands. With the liquid, you tend to see two or three pushes, when the foam hand dispenser pushes once. It’s a visual for the building occupant to feel like they’ve got enough product in their hands to do the necessary job.”

While customer satisfaction is key, it does come at an added cost.

“BSCs can buy a gallon of pink liquid hand soap for about $3 to 4 a gallon,” says Lynch. “Your foam cartridges are going to be a little more.”

While the upfront cost of foam soap is greater than that of liquid or gel, customers generally see savings on the back end.

“Foam soap is more effective in the long term,” says Huizenga. “It will have a higher case price, but yield more hand washes per case.”

Maintenance is also an important factor to considering which kind of soap BSCs should suggest to their customers.

“Liquid soap dispensers need a little more maintenance because they have orifices that clog over time,” says Lynch. “You’re usually taking out those dispensers and running them through hot water to clean them so they can work again. The foam dispensers tend to not do that because the air that shoots the soap out doesn’t tend to clog as much.”

Building Signage

Pre-COVID-19, about the only places where facilities included signage encouraging people to wash their hands were restrooms. During the pandemic, however, the signs have been popping up in different places around facilities, typically in high-traffic areas, as reminders that handwashing is the easiest and one of the more effective ways to avoid spreading viruses and disease.

“Signage has always been offered by manufacturers,” says Huizenga. “COVID — and the potential liability to the owner of a building — has increased the requests for additional signage. As a distributor, we’ve created non-brand manufacturing signage that customers can personalize with their logos.”

Maintex takes the process one step further with BSC customers.

“We do an audit with people in a facility when they’re ready to reopen,” says Silverman. “We ask them about where their hand sanitizers should be. Where should your foam soap be? Where should we put up signs?”

Silverman says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a number of signs that cleaning contractors can download and print for free. She says the newer signs being created today are great because they don’t just tell people to wash their hands. They also provide advice on how to wash those hands.

With so many sign options out there, it might be a good idea for BSCs to change customer signage every so often. Doing so will keep the message fresh.

“If customers have signs up for too long, after a while people stop seeing them,” says Silverman. “If you replace them with a different sign, people don’t become immune to the same message they’ve seen over and over.”

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