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Manual vs Automatic Dispensers: Which Washroom Solution is Best?

It is vitally important for businesses to offer effective washroom solutions to all washroom users to stop the spread of harmful germs and bacteria found on hard surfaces. However, with endless washroom accessories on the market, manual vs automatic, stainless steel vs plastic dispensers, hand dryers or paper towels, it can be difficult for businesses to ensure they are making the right decision to ensure proper hygiene in the washroom.

Choosing between a manual vs automatic soap dispenser is one of the great debates in the commercial washroom space and can be hard to decide out of these options, which is the right dispenser for you. Keep reading as we take a look at some of the benefits provided by manual and automatic soap dispensers, as well as some key considerations for you to take into account when deciding upon the most suitable choice of soap dispenser for your washroom.

What is the Difference Between a Manual Soap Dispenser and an Automatic Soap Dispenser?

Soap dispensers come in many shapes and forms and are a vital component in any hygienic washroom. Whilst traditionally a bar of soap was the main form of hand hygiene within washrooms, dispensers are now a mainstream option to provide soap in the correct amount. The two main types of dispensers found in today’s washrooms are of the manual and automatic variety.

The main differences between a manual soap dispenser and an automatic soap dispenser come down to operation, hygiene, costs and occasionally, aesthetics. Automatic soap dispensers are fitted with sensors that are able to detect motion of the users’ hands and dispense an appropriate amount of soap. Manual dispensers are exactly that and require manual operation, such as a push to compress the pump and dispense soap.

Many businesses will have different requirements in functionality and operation for their washroom which may affect their choice in dispenser, for example, those looking to avoid any extra time spent on maintenance and expenses may look towards a manual dispenser since their automatic counterparts generally require battery operation and marginally more maintenance.

The Benefits of an Automatic Soap Dispenser in the Washroom

Automatic dispensers are becoming increasingly common, being the option that the vast majority of businesses nowadays opt to include in their washrooms. Some of the advantages that automatic soap dispensers offer over their manual counterparts include:

  • Touchless operation
  • Reduced risk of cross-contamination
  • Cost-efficient due to controlled dispensing of soap
  • Modern and elegant design

Since automatic dispensers are a hands-free device with no physical touch necessarily required, the risk of cross-contamination between users is lower than that of a manual dispenser, helping to eliminate the soap dispenser as a potential germ hotspot within the washroom.

When using a manual dispenser, the potential for wastage is possibly higher as there is no limit on the number of times the pump can be pressed, but that said the same principle applies to touch free dispensers if the user is prepared to wait a few seconds between each dose. Both types of pump dispense a measured amount of soap for each use.

The inclusion of an automatic dispenser within a washroom can add a modern and elegant feel due to their sleek design and ease of use. How visitors perceive a washroom can affect their overall outlook on the business as a whole, so providing a modern and pleasant experience with automatic soap dispensers can go a long way.

The Benefits of a Manual Soap Dispenser in the Washroom

Manual soap dispensers are the more traditional, tried-and-tested approach that have been a staple of many washrooms for numerous years. Whilst the technological prowess of automatic dispensers sees the manual dispenser as less desirable in some areas, it still offers many benefits to make it a consideration for some, including:

  • Reliable operation
  • Hassle-free design
  • Cost-efficient due to controlled dispensing of soap
  • No batteries, so less cost and environment impact

Manual dispensers provide a simple design that brings familiarity to its users.

The simple nature of manual dispensers means minimal operational costs or installation is required, aside from the replacing of the soap itself. This can be desirable to many businesses not only for the hassle-free design, but because this simplicity also means affordability with prices often being greatly reduced in comparison to their automatic dispensing counterparts both in terms of up front costs and ongoing maintenance costs.

Does the Dispenser Effect the Hand Washing Process?

Whilst the core hand washing process stays the same, the main considerations to take into account when comparing the use of automatic and manual soap dispensers during the hand washing process is that of a hygiene matter.

Since manual dispensers require hands-on interaction one view is that they increase the potential for cross contamination for users having to touch the unit, however they are touched directly prior to the washing of hands anyway so any risk is significantly reduced.  Good hand washing is by far the most critical element in reducing cross contamination and using soap and water is more effective than just water alone.

As previously mentioned, manual and automatic dispensers each offer their own benefits and neither method is considered superior when it comes to effective hand hygiene. Whilst one may be better suited to your washroom requirements, both options can supplement the hand washing process without effecting hygiene levels.

What to Consider When Choosing the Right Dispenser for Your Washroom?

Choosing the right commercial soap dispenser can depend hugely on a number of factors, such as space and layout of the washroom, servicing requirements, washroom environment and many more. With many commercial soap dispensers on the market, choosing the right one can be overwhelming which is why we have broken down some of the key factors every business should consider:

Soap Capacity

How much soap the dispenser can hold will dictate the level of upkeep and maintenance required to ensure you are always able to provide soap to the users of your washroom. A larger capacity dispenser may appeal to those with high traffic washrooms to keep up with the constant use and avoid having to refill them after each day. Whereas smaller units may be better suited for smaller, quieter washrooms and where wall space is limited.

Economical Factors

Certain economic factors may be an important consideration for some businesses when deciding upon the right dispenser for their washroom. Both manual and automatic soap dispensers provide users with a set amount of soap each time, providing them with just the right amount to ensure proper hand hygiene. But you should also consider the users of your washroom for example in nurseries or care home facilities and whether they will be confused by such technology, such as not understanding where the soap dispenses from may lead to wastage etc.

Exceeding Hygiene

It’s important to consider what you want your dispenser to offer to washroom users, in addition to the providing of soap. Do you want to minimise touchpoints within your washroom to exceed hygiene expectations? Perhaps you want a dispenser that looks modern, or one that provides a easy, straight-forward experience. Dudley Industries offer a variety of commercial soap dispensers, browse from our full collection to choose the right dispenser to suit your washroom requirements.

Environmental Impact

Another element to consider is the environmental impact of the soap dispenser.  Manual dispensers may offer the benefit of battery-less operation, however automatic dispensers could perhaps create less wastage in high traffic washrooms, which in the long term may be the most environmentally friendly option.

For more information on which soap dispenser is best, check out our helpful guide on choosing the right commercial soap dispenser for your business.

Effective Hand Hygiene is More Important than The Dispenser

The choice of soap dispenser in a washroom is only the beginning, and effective hand hygiene is a much larger process to consider. Many users of washrooms still opt to not use soap whilst washing their hands and many people don’t even wash their hands at all.  Whilst the choice of manual vs automatic dispensers is an important one to consider, it is ultimately just as important that your business is not just facilitating the use of hand soap, but also encouraging proper hand hygiene. Display our helpful hand washing with soap posters in the washroom to remind washroom users of the correct hand washing technique.

Explore Dudley Industries Range of Commercial Soap Dispensers

Dudley Industries offer a wide range of commercial soap dispensers suitable to suit all your business requirements. As experts in the design and manufacture of stainless-steel washroom accessories, we are happy to assist in helping you choose the best soap dispenser for your specific washroom needs.

For more information about the different types of soap dispensers available visit our Washroom Products section, alternatively please speak to our team who will happily guide you through the range to find the best solution on +44 (0) 1253 738311.