Do you remember how many times a day you used to wash your hands a day before 2020? Maybe two or three times a day! Similarly, the use of sanitizer was limited to the duration of the journey and we used to carry a tiny bottle of sanitizer during train journey, many people carried it just for show-off.
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Sudden increase in hand washing and sanitizing in India
We were shaking hands and eating together regardless of washing hands every time! Then came ‘Mr. Covid’ in early 2020 and the importance of hand wash liquid and sanitizer increased overnight. From social media to news channels, we were advised to wash our hands regularly. And Yes, now we had to learn the proper washing process again at this age. Okay, now we wash our hands after opening doors, touching elevators and railings, or using currency. Many studies say that most people wash or sanitize their hands more than 6 times a day and some people clean their hands about 15 times a day.
Because of this good habit, cute little soap bottles went out of trend and the demand for a variety of larger soap and sanitizer dispensers increased dramatically. Suddenly people started buying dispensers whatever was available online, here you have to note that most of the markets were closed due to the lockdown. Obviously, some liquid soap dispensers did well and many of them quickly became unusable. Today, we will assess what caused such results and what parameters we should consider when buying a dispenser for liquid soap, foam soap or sanitizer.
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What types of soap dispenser can be installed in the home or office?
Automatic vs Manual Soap Dispenser
If we leave aside the weird designs like the foot paddle dispenser which was a mechanical version of the soap dispenser’s touchless hand sanitization and was mainly used for public places during corona waves; we can mainly divide the soap or foam or sanitizer dispensers in to two categories:
Manual Soap Dispenser Wall Mounted:
They can be classic push button operation or palm push operation. Normally the traditional push button design comes in the stainless steel bodies and palm press design comes in the plastic or ABS bodies.
This type of dispenser is primarily designed with ‘valve and spring mechanism’ inside the inbuilt pump for controlled output of liquid. Inside they have the chamber to store the desired liquid, which can be made of SS as well as polyurethane or polypropylene, depending upon the requirement of construction and pattern. Such dispensers use to have locking device which can be opened for refill and clean with a U-shaped key. This feature not only helps in eliminating malfunction by miscreants but also makes it a safe device for children.
Advantages of Manual Dispensers:
They are still popular and a favorite of many people, if we put aside the risk of virus contamination. The manual dispenser has the following features:
1. Ethnic Look: The traditional and classic look is suitable for preferred in most properties and areas.
2. Easy to install and use: Such dispensers are very easy to install and use and it does not create confusion for any age group user.
3. Comfortable to refill: Hassle free refilling, all you have to do in such models is open the cover and top-up the liquid can.
4. Affordable Products: In terms of manual dispenser there are some expensive products in the market for the select few but there are various models available in lesser price also.
5. Zero running cost: Since it doesn’t require a battery or electrical connection, there are no operating costs with manual dispenser other than liquid.
6. Portable: Since no connection is required, it is extremely portable and can be installed at any location. If you want to switch places all you need is a place to hang it.
Disadvantages of Manual Soap Dispenser:
Not much, but these evergreen manual dispensers also have some drawbacks, they are notable cons if you compare with the automatic and upgraded versions of the soap dispenser:
1. Shorter life: Since this is a mechanical device, the friction and higher use of the various parts reduces the performance and life of the dispenser over time.
2. Chance of infection: As you have to press or push the button to release a drop of liquid or spray, the potential for contamination and infection still remains.
3. Deterioration: Due to repeated touching the body parts become dirty and lose their original color. Steel bodies in particular tend to lose the actual texture and it doesn’t look shiny after some time.
Automatic Soap Dispensers:
Touchless or automatic dispensers are preferred over push button dispensers due to the true “no-touch” operation that ensures protection against viruses that are spread by touch. They work on sensor based mechanism, that is why they are also called “motion activated distribution units”.
If we talk about the process, the automatic soap dispenser has a motion sensor that detects the hands at the bottom of the dispenser and dispenses a predetermined amount of soap or other liquid.
The first such model was invented in 1989 by Gui-Chuan Shiao of Taiwan and the patent was granted in 1991. Initially, it was used in some developed countries, that too in some major properties or places where traffic was high, but after Corona this type of dispenser became popular in every corner of the world.
Advantages of Automatic Soap Dispensers:
All the most advanced soap dispensers fall under the category of automatic dispenser; no wonder it has many great features like:
1. No contamination: Being a sensor based device it is touchless (at least for the user). This ensures to reduce contamination which can happen in case of push button type dispensers.
2. Easy to refill: Easy to refill: More technical and advanced doesn’t mean this kind of dispenser is difficult to refill. It has been observed that most of the manufacturers keep refilling simple.
3. Ease of use: It is very clear that this dispenser is the easiest to use, the user just needs to keep the hand within range of the motion sensor and a prefix amount of liquid will be dispensed by the unit. Normally this sensing range is from 10 to 15 cm.
4. Controlled dispensing: Some dispensers have the 2 to 5 order adjustable output of the liquid and some have fixed output – say 1ml., but the automatic dispenser dispenses a predetermined quantity which helps reduce wastage of expensive products like liquid soap or sanitizing gel.
5. Great appearance: Thanks to regular innovations and a global competitive market, we are seeing new launches more frequently and we have more designs and colors to match the property.
6. Pride point: Last but not least, an automatic dispenser in the bathroom or wash area is a point of pride for every home or business owner. It gives a good impression about the level of the home or office property.
Disadvantages of Automatic Soap Dispensers:
It has many amazing features and benefits but like any other device in the market, automatic dispenser also has some drawbacks:
1. Price factor: If you are planning to buy an automatic dispenser then you must keep in mind that it is a relatively expensive product. Compared to manual dispenser with SS body, touchless dispenser will cost 50 to 100% more than this.
2. Temptation leads to overuse: if it’s installed in a public place or in an unattended area, some visitors enjoy playing with the sensor and waste liquid without needing to.
3. Additional running cost: Since most of the touchless dispensers work on alkaline batteries, it is an additional expense on the owner or management authority, non-availability of battery sometimes creates awkward situation in front of visitors.
4. Power cuts: There are also some power-powered automatic dispenser available that save on battery costs, but are not suitable for areas where prolonged power cuts are a routine.
Conclusion: Automatic vs Manual Soap Dispenser
How to select right soap, foam or sanitizer dispenser for home, restaurant or workplace?
You should consider the following parameters when selecting a suitable liquid soap, foam or sanitizer dispensing unit:
Safety: if the dispenser is planned for the home where small family is living the manual dispenser of the choice is good enough. In such application the usage is under supervision and dispenser can be sanitized regularly.
In case the installation to be done in the office or any other workplace the manual dispenser is not a right choice especially when the population of the office is higher.
Traffic: It has been seen that in many places people are queuing for liquid soap, especially in public places. So, while ordering you should also check the suitability of the dispenser as per the traffic, like if the users are less then you can go with manual but if the number of users is more then you should go with sensor based model.
Power availability: You should also consider the power supply in the area of installation, in case power supply is regularly disturbed opt for battery versions. If your budget is lower and traffic is higher, you can go with multiple number of manual dispensers. If the unit is battery operated, the authorized person should store one or two sets of batteries in a safe place.
Area of installation: Although most electric or battery operated dispensers are built with IP protection (ingress protection against water and dust), I would still not recommend installation of these machines where there is a high chance of water splashing directly onto the machine. Try to install the battery or electric version in a safe place and away from faucets and washbasins.
Application: Such dispensers are mainly used to serve hand wash liquid, foam soap and sanitizing liquid, but there are many other applications for which people have started using liquid dispensers. Now we find that shampoo, utensils and dishwashing gel, face wash and body wash are also kept in the dispenser. Since the use is not so frequent and the environment is safe, people prefer manual dispensers made of ABS.