While the demand for touch-free dispensers doesn’t come with a whole lot of caveats, there are still some common questions end users will ask prior to adopting the setup — primarily based on battery maintenance and limiting waste. While older dispenser models may require more frequent checks for functionality, Schneringer says newer versions feature technology where a smaller battery is attached to a refill cartridge. By combining battery swaps and refills, custodians can streamline the maintenance process and make fewer unnecessary trips.

Beware Of Bulk

Although a touch-free dispenser can go a long way to improving overall hand hygiene, its effectiveness only goes as far as the cleanliness of the soap itself. For decades, traditional bulk dispensers have been the norm, with many soaps and hand sanitizers being advertised with 100 percent effectiveness claims. The issue with these claims, however, is they are under the assumption that the soap is being properly added and the dispenser is bacteria-free.

"If not properly kept, traditional bulk dispensers can be a haven for bacteria and infectious diseases," says Allen. "Very often, facilities will routinely top off the tank each time it gets to less than two-thirds full, which overtime leads to the buildup of germs and diminished soap effectiveness."

Schneringer adds that if facilities commit to bulk soap, dispensers should be emptied and cleaned at minimum once per month — which is why closed cartridge options can be a more reasonable choice both from a hygienic and maintenance standpoint.

"People are starting to pay more attention to these kinds of details," he says. "The adoption of closed cartridges can alleviate many of these concerns. Most of the time with bulk dispensers, people aren't emptying them entirely — they're just putting more on top, which runs the risk of doing more harm than good."

The attached batteries are smaller, but the lifespan typically runs hand-in-hand with how long a soap dispenser is expected to be serviceable.

“Instead of having a bigger battery in the system where it’s more difficult to anticipate when it runs out, having the batteries attached to the cartridge can free users from the battery maintenance game altogether,” says Schneringer. “You can dispose of the refill cartridge with the battery, and everything is recycled at once. It’s less time and less waste, all in one.”

Other questions distributors are likely to receive are logistics related, specifically understanding the quantities of soap being released per use, interval times and what the anticipated frequencies are for refills. While this information is important to have, distributors can work with end users to ensure that they have accurate data without too many complicated steps.

With a school, for example, Allen says distributors can sit down with facility managers and calculate district size, number of students per classroom, and how many classes they have per day. From there, it’s easy to provide an educated estimation on foot traffic for different restrooms.

“Last summer I sat down with several customers and we were able to figure out what quantities of soap and projected maintenance would be required if schools opened again fully,” he says. “If you’re willing to have those conversations and prove to be more than simply the provider of equipment, they’re a lot more likely to both sign on and stick around.”

National surveys continue to show scrutiny toward public restrooms, but distributors can help facilities diffuse complaints on soap, sanitizer and dispensers with expertise on optimal setups, supply logistics and overall branding.

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Evaluating Facility Dispenser Setups