Social Question

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What are your thoughts on automatic soap dispensers?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (21624 points ) August 28th, 2011

They were installed in the public restrooms at work. On the surface, it seemed like a good idea. In thinking about it, it seems sort of silly. One goes to the bathroom and then either washes their hands or doesn’t. If a person were to use a regular liquid soap pump or even a bar of soap, they are still washing their hands.

Is it just a matter of being grossed out at the thought of touching an object that might have been touched by another, or is there something beneficial about it?

Is it a ploy by soap dispenser manufacturers to create a market for their products? There is a lot more liquid soap that comes out of these automatic dispensers than seems necessary.

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32 Answers

zensky's avatar

I can’t imagine touching a bar of soap after someone else anymore.

athenasgriffin's avatar

The ickier the bathroom, the more I wish for automatic anything.

ucme's avatar

It’s high time they put them in prison showers, avoid any “unpleasantness”.....you know? ;¬}

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Sometime back, soap bars were discovered to collect yuck in them. From what I can see though, the foam dispensers like the movement sensors we have in our stores have benefit in that they are less messy, less wasteful and therefore less costly. You get a measured amount plopped into your hand, no crumbly powder, no gunked up or leaking liquid and no slippery icky bar people would rather avoid all together.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@zensky Ah, but you did at one point, or at least gave it no thought? If so, when did that thought process change? I’m more creeped out by the thought of touching a door handle by someone who didn’t wash their hands then a bar of soap. And for that matter, being female brings on a whole other matter when it comes to shared toilets. P.S. Welcome to a new persona.

zensky's avatar

I started thinking about it as soon as they started selling soap in dispensers. I don’t touch bathroom handles without holding paper towels in my hand. I don’t even touch the faucets.

chyna's avatar

I love the idea. What if you or anyone has something really icky on your hands and don’t want to touch the dispenser? I see where they are making the touchless ones for home now too. I will probably get one.

@zensky Which brings up another point that really irritates me, the fact that they have stopped putting paper towels in rest rooms now. What if I wanted to rinse my face off? I don’t want to stick it under the blow dryer to dry my face off and I do want to use paper towels to open doors.

zensky's avatar

I always keep some in my pocket.

I’m a boy scout.

gravity's avatar

I love them! I even have small ones in my kitchen and bathroom.

bea2345's avatar

One learns early to: never leave the bathroom without washing hands thoroughly, even if all you did was freshen your makeup; always wash hands before and after eating ; keep one’s hands away from the face, especially the eyes; resist the urge to dig one’s nose and to prospect in one’s ears; and if you handle money for a living, all the above in spades; and (this for women only) if you are pre-menopausal and use tampons, ALWAYS wash hands before and after each change.

Just one thing: I thought that hand sanitizers had the effect of leaving a lot of dead organisms on your skin. Is that a reasonable belief?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@bea2345: I read that a person would have to rub the anti bacterial stuff into their hands continuously for 5–8 minutes in order for it to kill anything. I don’t know about you but I’ve rarely seen anyone wash (even with soap & water, me included) that long. Ever.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t like the soap dispensers over here. They operate by pressing a button which isn’t hygienic and they give a weak soap that doesn’t form a decent lather. A foot operated dispenser would be preferable. I always cringe a little inside when touching the handle of the toilet door with my cleansed hands.

Kardamom's avatar

People have just exited the stall in the bathroom. They have not yet washed their hands, so when they touch the non-automatic soap dispenser (or worse yet, an actual bar of soap) they are putting their pee and poo and blood soaked hands onto the dispenser.

So He*l yes! I want automatic soap dispensers!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@athenasgriffin Psychologically, I feel the same way. In reality, my hands are more likely to pick up germs before using a restroom than during.

@Neizvestnaya I’m not so sure that the automated dispensers are cheaper. Do they operate on a battery? A few of the ones they installed a work would squirt out soap just by activating the sensor while washing hands under water because the sensor was activated. Plus there is no way to control the amount that comes out. With a standard hand pump, I can control the amount.

@chyna I miss paper towels as well. I don’t mind drying my hands off under an electric dryer; the button can be pushed with my arm. As you pointed out, they come in handy for other bathroom use purposes.

@bea2345 Not everyone is taught to wash their hands after using the bathroom. Even if they are, it doesn’t mean that they do in their later years. I occasionally hear someone leaving a restroom stall without hearing the faucet turned on. As for the hand sanitizers, it would make sense if dead organisms were left on the skin. It’s like they are being washed away. There are other concerns that have been proposed about using them as well.

@gravity I’ve been considering getting one for the kitchen. When I’m with the SO, I cook every day, and I’m more concerned about the stuff left behind on a self-pump, especially when preparing meat.

@flutherother If you are pressing a button to get soap, doesn’t that mean that you are about to wash your hands? I doubt the seconds it takes to go from a dispenser from washing will make any difference. It’s the psychological aspect that grosses people out. I’ve used dispensers that don’t provide enough soap. I just press the button or pump again or use another one, if available.

@Kardamom I’m not following. If they just left the bathroom without washing their hands, then they haven’t touched anything except the door handle.

@All I’m just not as concerned with how the soap is dispensed because my hands are about to be washed. Maybe I am in the minority here, but I rarely get bodily fluids on my hands because I a.) use toilet paper, and b.) only use one hand to wipe. Besides, pee is sterile, poo is where it can be potentially dangerous, and menstrual fluid is, well icky. I turn the faucet on with the non-wiping hand. Maybe it comes from being ambidextrous, or maybe out of courtesy…probably the latter.

What would be ideal is having more motion detected water faucets. They installed these in one of the bathrooms at work. No handles to touch. It would also be nice to have public restrooms that didn’t have doors, like we see at airports. No handles to touch. Maybe paper towel dispensers should be required in the places that are only equipped for one person at a time.

snowberry's avatar

I don’t like ‘em. The ones I like the least dispense about 20 times more soap than I want. I remember the kind that dispensed powered pink soap, but that kind is out of date now.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Tell you what I miss, just for the nostalgia, are those cloth rollers that people used to use to dry their hands in public bathrooms. I’ll bet anything people get sicker today than they used to.

As for the soap dispensers…just another gimmick to panic people to get them to buy their stuff. If I were freaky about any of it (which I’m not) I’d much rather touch a bar of soap after another person because the soap gets washed everytime, as soon as you start using it! The soap dispensers don’t!

YARNLADY's avatar

The soap dispensers need to be cleaned very once in awhile, but they are a huge improvement over bar soap or the old fashion type.

I was taught that every time I wash my hands, I silently sing Mary Had a Little Lamb all the way through to ensure the proper length of time in scrubbing. I’ve been thinking of changing to some other happy song some day, but it’s such an ingrained habit, I never do.

snowberry's avatar

I have antibacterial bar soap made with tea tree oil. It’s the real deal, and it is not nearly as harsh as the commercial kind. I think I’ll start carrying it with me for public restrooms.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@YARNLADY… How do you figure the soap dispensers are a huge improvement over bar soap? They get dirtier than bar soap and get washed a lot less often!

Kardamom's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer No, they haven’t left the bathroom itself they’ve just come out of the stall dripping with bodily fluids. When they go over to the sink to wash up and they touch the soap dispenser or the faucet knob, they’re depositing all of those fluids onto those items. If you have a no touch faucet, soap dispenser and towel dispenser, then you don’t have to get any of other people’s junk on yourself.

Dutchess_III's avatar

the silly things people worry about!

augustlan's avatar

I think the automatic soap dispensers are kind of silly. When you have to touch a pump or whatever, it’s before you’ve washed your hands. You’re already dirty. I assume you’re not going to touch it again, after your hands are clean.

I do love the automatic paper towel dispensers/air dryers, though, since your hands are clean at that point. Except for the fact that they don’t sense me at least half the time. Same with auto faucets. It’s like I don’t exist to them. :/

Whenever I have to open a bathroom door after washing, if there are no paper towels available I use only the pinky on my non-dominant hand. I’m probably kidding myself, but I feel like it minimizes the germ transfer.

mrrich724's avatar

Seriously, lets just say HUMANITY HAS MADE IT TO THE 21ST CENTURY WITHOUT THEM, so why the heck do we need them now?!

They don’t make a difference except in the minds of the weak-minded.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@mrrich724…. ten thousand GA’s. Humanity has made it through some SERIOUS germ stuff over the last hundred thousand years…and we’re still here. And I still say, I bet we get sick more often now than in any other time in history..or at least we thing we do….“sick” with silly, trivial stuff.

bea2345's avatar

@Neizvestnaya – actually, I wonder how many people actually follow health department guidelines. I don’t, because I can’t. So much depends on the availability of water, soap and paper towels – items that this generation takes for granted, but are still not a given in many places.. As for soaping my hands for five minutes, certainly not. Surely the idea is to remove just the worst of the foreign matter from your skin, and besides, do you turn off the water for those five minutes while you soap? last dry season but one we went 90 days without a single drop of rain and the nightly news featured the water levels in the reservoirs dropping fast. Since then some of us are very conscious of water wastage. Where I work the employer provides very good facilities, both for the staff and the public, but there are times of day when toilet paper is scarce and sometimes the soap dispensers are empty. On my last visit to the US, I was amazed at the profligate use of water – when visiting the University of Wisconsin, I used one of the undergraduate toilets: acres of white tile, at least 50 lavatories and an equal number of sinks and not a single out of order notice anywhere.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I like them, but often they don’t dispense enough soap out the first time, so you end up doing it again and again. I find automatic faucets even more annoying——you stick your hands under it, and sometimes it takes awhile for the water to come out——you got to place your hands in the right spot. And when the water does come out, it’s so slow and little, like it’s taking a little pee.

zensky's avatar

This is our philosophical Question of the Day!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@zensky LOL! Or our philosoapical Q of the D.

zensky's avatar

Good one.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I forget who said it, but someone said people come out of the stalls, “Oozing body fluids..” I’ve been thinking about that…what makes you think they’re “oozing” more then than at any other time? They went to the bathroom, they’re done! You’d think they’d be “oozing” more when they had to go, and hadn’t yet! That comment makes no sense.

zensky's avatar

Neither does posting that, dear. I’m glad it’s hours before meal time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@zensky I wasn’t the one who said it first! OK, now I gotta go research…oops. It was Kardomom and I misquoted her! She said, “No, they haven’t left the bathroom itself they’ve just come out of the stall dripping with bodily fluids.” Sorry about that KMom!

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