What’s the dirtiest clean spot in your office?

We’ve all been talking a lot about germs, bacteria, and especially viruses lately. Surely by now we’ve got a handle on what we need to clean to keep ourselves and our coworkers healthy, right? We wipe down our desks and phones and printers and copiers and breakroom tables and door handles, and sinks, and, and and. We must be as germ free as we can be. Well, there’s one spot you may not have thought of, so we’re here to lend a helping hand. We’re heading to the bathroom to find those germs, but they aren’t in the first, or even second, spot you would think of.

Bacteria secretly hiding out in… soap?

Microbiologists at GOJO Industries (the inventors of Purell hand sanitizer) and the University of Arizona have discovered that up to 25% of soap dispensers in public restroom are contaminated with bacteria, leaving your hands germier than before you washed them. Researchers took samples from more than 500 refillable soap dispensers in office, health clubs, restaurants, and retail stores and tested them for bacteria. The bacteria found in contaminated dispensers were there in concentrations of about 1,000 times what the industry recommends. That’s a lot of germs!

How does it happen? Bulk soap dispensers are the most commonly used dispensers outside of healthcare settings. When the soap gets low you pull out a gallon jug of soap and fill up the dispenser. Easy! Of course, if it’s easy for you get into the dispenser, it’s easy for bacteria to get in, too. Bacteria can fall into the open jug or dispenser. Or, if the person filling the dispenser didn’t wash his or her hands after cleaning the bathroom, germs can be transferred from hands to the jug or dispenser. Once the bacteria are in the dispenser they can be nearly impossible to get rid of. Even disinfecting the dispensers with bleach won’t usually do the trick.

Sealed soap dispensers to the rescue!

You can’t give up washing your hands. And washing the dispenser doesn’t work. So what do you do? Switch to a different dispenser. Instead of using a bulk soap dispenser, choose one that uses sealed cartridges. In one study, sealed soap dispensers were installed in school bathrooms in place of contaminated bulk dispensers. A year later, the new sealed cartridge dispensers were still germ free.

Switching doesn’t cost much. You can get a manual (push button) sealed dispenser for as little as $5.00. Or go ultra-germ-fighter and choose a touchless version. You can usually get one for around $50.00. That’s a small price to pay to reduce sick time in your office. You may even qualify for a FREE dispenser when you switch. If you’re thinking of making the change, reach out to a member of your Account Team. They can give you all the information you need.

Did you know? According to research by Kimberly-Clark, the average employer loses $1600 in productivity per employee per year due to illness.

Paper towels: Robin to soap’s Batman

When it comes to fighting germs, drying your hands is just as important as washing them. Bacteria like the damp. If you don’t completely dry your hands, residual bacteria and viruses can remain on your hands to be passed along to others. And research shows that paper towels are more effective than air dryers. Most people don’t leave their hands under air dryers long enough to fully dry them. Studies have also found that when you flush the toilet, it releases a fine mist that can contain bacteria and fecal matter. Once those pathogens are in the air, they can be recycled by the air dryers and blown onto your hands. Yuck!

If you really want to fight germs, team your new soap dispenser with a touchless towel dispenser. Hands-free operation means you’ll get a clean, untouched towel every time so you can really up your germ fighting game. But if you aren’t ready to go touchless, we can still find a solution for you. From single towel dispensers to center pull and hardwound roll towel options, we have a solution to fit your needs. Reach out to your Account Team for help picking the right one for you.

Did you know? Paper towels reduce bacteria on hands by up to 77%. That’s because the process of rubbing your hands on the towel physically removes the bacteria.