hand soap dispenser systems

Hand Soap Systems – Evaluating The Real Cost

Having the proper hand soap dispenser system for your facility can help reduce the spread of germs and illness. It is also important to understand what you are paying for. With all of the different brands, models and dispensers available, trying to figure out the best value can be confusing.

The Hand Soap Dispenser Makes A Difference

With all of the different types of hand soap dispenser systems out there, it can be confusing to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. These dispensers can put out different amounts of soap with a pump. This can very from .01 ml to 1.0 ml. As you can imagine, that can add up quickly!

Regardless of the type of hand soap dispenser system, foam, liquid or spray, what you are really paying for is each hand wash. While finding this exact cost may be difficult, there is a pretty simple formula I have used for years to calculate very close estimate.

1. Start with the amount of soap per refill. (Usually in milliliters)Hand Soap Cost Per Hand Wash

Example: 1000 ml.

2. Then take the amount of soap dispensed per pump.

Example: .07 ml.

3. Divide the amount of soap in a refill by the amount of soap per pump.

Example : 1000 ml. / .07 ml. = 1429 pumps/refill.

Keep in mind that some soap dispensing systems have adjustments that control the amount of soap that is dispensed per pump. Ask your representative or the manufacturer if this is possible.

4. When you consider that the average user will push a manual dispenser twice, you need to divide the number of pumps per refill by 2.

Example:  1429 pumps per refill / 2 pumps per hand wash = 714.5 hand washes per refill.

5. Then divide the number of hand washes per refill by the cost of the refill.

Example: Refill Cost $20 / 1429 = $.028 per hand wash.

Determining Over-All Hand Soap Costs

Depending on the type of facility, you can take the average number of users per day to find out a good estimate of what your hand soap cost are going to be.

For demonstration purposes, let’s use the school setting for our example but this can be used for just about any type of facility.

1. Take the number of students and the number of times per day they use the restroom. For most elementary schools, 3 times per day is a good estimate.

Example: 300 Students X 3 Restroom Visits per day = 900 hand washes.

2. Now take the number of hand washes per day and multiply it by the cost per hand wash from the formula above to determine your hand soap cost per day.

Example: 900 X $.028 Per Hand Wash = $25.20 per day for hand soap.

3. If you are looking for a yearly budget number, take hand soap cost per day and multiply it by the number of school days.

Example: $25.20 X 180 days = $4536.00 per school year. 

Hand Washing Dispenser Summery

While these figures are nowhere near perfect because they don’t take in to account that there are after school events, some will use more than 2 pumps per hand wash, while many will not wash their hands at all. What I have done is add as much as 10% to cover additional use and any waste that may occur.

By taking time to evaluate the cost per hand wash you can have a starting point to understand the real cost of a soap program. Every hand soap dispenser system works a little different, but breaking it down the cost per hand wash will give you a way to compare them fairly. While cost is important, there should be other factors taken in to account such as the number of hand washes in a refill. Having more hand washes in a refill will reduce the time spent changing them out.

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2 replies
  1. Karen
    Karen says:

    Have you done a calculation of the cost of foam soap vs lotion or regular soap at commercial facilities such as offices? The vendor for one of our facilities is suggesting a savings of 15% by switching from foam to lotion, but I believe foam uses less soap per wash and less water. Your calculator suggests people pump twice for soap, but I think if one has an automatic dispenser it would cut this in half, yes?

    • BaldGuyClean
      BaldGuyClean says:

      Thanks for your comment Karen. First we need to clarify the term “lotion soap”. Typically there are 2 different types of hand soap, lotion and antibacterial. These both can be dispensed through
      – Liquid soap dispensers (this is a traditionals dispenser that gives you a blob of thick liquid)
      – Foam soap dispensers (the pumping mechanism adds air to the liquid soap so that it comes out as a foam.)
      – Spray soap dispensers (a thinner liquid is forced out under pressure as a spray.)

      Automatic soap dispensers are available for all three types. Many models of dispensers, both manual and automatic, can also be adjusted to allow different amounts to be dispensed. ie: .05 ml per pump, .7ml per pump, 1 ml per pump.
      All of this becomes a factor when evaluating potential costs. Obviously if you are using a foam automatic dispenser that puts out .5ml per pump, vs. a automatic spray dispenser that puts out .05ml per pump, you are going to use a lot more soap. I would suggest doing some research into the dispensing systems that you are being shown in order to get a more accurate estimate of useage.
      – BGC –


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