Innovate Blog
It’s time to Bin the Bulk; It’s Safer Sealed

Friday March 17, 2017

There used to be nothing but bulk. Whether it was public toilets or office washrooms, schools or hospitals – soap dispensers holding their product in a refillable reservoir were the only alternative to a bar of soap or a lotion from a bottle.

For good reasons: bulk dispensers left far less mess than bar soaps and were inexpensive. But budget-driven decisions in favour of bulk systems did not always take into a consideration an issue that we now recognise as extremely problematic: bacterial contamination.

Bulk systems are not sealed, meaning they are potentially vulnerable to contamination from the environment, or from the hands of the person refilling the system and handling the dispenser. The widely applied practice of “topping off” dispensers – refilling them before they have been emptied out completely and cleaned properly – means that the old soap in the reservoir, which may have been contaminated by germs, can cause the new soap to be contaminated.

Even where the equipment is cleaned frequently, using aggressive products such as bleach, researchers have identified a high risk of recontamination, due to biofilms – microorganisms that stick to each other and adhere to surfaces [1].

Extensive research leaves no doubt about the seriousness of the problem: in one study, 25% of bulk dispensers were found to be excessively contaminated [2].

Better solutions are widely available. Sealed dispenser systems are “closed”: they can be refilled by inserting into the dispenser a sealed cartridge of soap. There is no contact between the product and the environment before the product is being used to wash hands. The risk of contamination is reduced to a minimum.

In contrast to the often messy re-filling procedure of bulk dispensers, sealed cartridges are quick and easy to change. Spills are no longer an issue, and sealed cartridge dispensers require minimal cleaning. Maintenance is extremely low – saving both time and money.

At Deb, our dispensers only accommodate sealed soap cartridge systems, which means they are more hygienic with the reduced risk of contamination. Keeping your hands clean and keeping you healthy.
What’s more: our dispensers make it possible to use highly effective foam soaps instead of lotion products. Less foam soap is needed compared to lotion soap, with a standard 1-litre cartridge yielding over 1,400 hand washes. Foam soaps can also contribute to significant water and energy savings. It has been estimated that their use can reduce water consumption by up to 45% [3].

Deb’s range of sealed cartridge dispensers are safer and more hygienic than their bulk counterparts; they minimise the risk of bacterial contamination and help to prevent infections; they save companies time and money; and they ease the burden on the environment. If you take all these advantages together, they really make bulk dispensers look like a relic from a by-gone era – it’s time to bin them. – It’s safer sealed.


[1] Lorenz, L., Ramsay, B., Goeres, D., Fields, M., Zapka, C., Macinga, D. Evaluation and remediation of bulk soap dispensers for biofilm, Biofouling 2012; 28:1 99-109
[2] Gerba, C.P. et al, Bacterial Contamination of Liquid Soaps, 2006, University of Arizona
[3] Independent research commissioned by Deb Group