How hand soap dispensers work

Written by carmichael vincent
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How hand soap dispensers work
Soap dispensers deliver soap for users when they need to wash their hands. (bottle of liquid soap image by Nikolai Sorokin from

Hand soap dispensers are used domestically and in commercial environments, whether they are wall-mounted or counter-based, they function in basically the same manner. Pressure inside the soap container increases when a force is applied and the soap is dispensed to sanitise hands.


To retrieve soap from a hand-soap dispenser, the nozzle must be pushed down. This force opens a valve and the air pressure added to the sealed container causes the soap in the dispenser to be sucked into the tube once the nozzle is depressed, as there is no way for the air forced in to escape.


After William Shepphard patented liquid soap in 1865, the Minnetonka Corporation introduced the first liquid-soap pump dispenser and bought the entire supply of plastic pumps required for their manufacture.


Hand-soap dispenser units include plastic or stainless-steel bulk soap dispensers, counter-mounted soap dispensers, cartridge refill soap dispensers and household plastic or glass bottle-pump dispensers.


In the bulk-soap dispenser units, rubber seals inside the valves will eventually wear down, get clogged up or need replacing. Wall mounted units should use a soap that will not stain the floor or counter if left for long periods of time unattended. Places that use a lot of soap should consider a nonopaque unit so when the soap level inside is low, it is visible and can be restocked. Hand-soap refill bags should be purchased, rather than new dispensers, to replace old plastic bottle dispensers to reduce plastic waste.

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