Hand sanitisers: Here to stay

Tina Bowden from Dudley Industries takes a look at long-term solutions to the long-term issue of making hand sanitisers more widely available.

Today, perhaps more than at any time in many generations, the subject of good hand-hygiene is at the forefront of awareness and understanding. Accordingly, building owners have sought to make hand sanitisers much more widely available.

Washing with soap and water is always recommended as an excellent first line of defence, but running water can’t be available everywhere that hand hygiene may be essential. Consequently, there’s also an important role for antimicrobial gels and liquids that can be situated conveniently at the point of need such as entrances, stairways, lifts, tills, changing rooms and cafeterias.

When properly used, good soap and hand sanitiser formulations will all do a good job of killing and removing pathogens. In many respects, the most important challenge is not about formulation, but rather ensuring that sanitiser is available wherever it’s needed. That makes it a matter of thoughtful design and choosing the right types of dispenser.

Currently, many shops and cafés – even some large retailers such as supermarkets – are still using what are clearly temporary solutions: plastic bottles of sanitiser set on reception desks, café countertops or small tables hastily relocated to entranceways.

Such measures may work, but now, in the third quarter of 2020, customer-focused organisations really ought to be thinking about moving away from interim measures. COVID-19 could well remain a feature of modern life for many months, if not years, and the public has grown acutely conscious of the risks of infection.

The issue is certainly not going to go away any time soon, so the proper placement and availability of dispensers demands serious planning. It reflects on an organisation’s professionalism and its attitudes towards customer care, so it’s more than just a safety requirement; it’s also a branding issue.

Practicality and professionalism

For hand sanitiser to be effective, it needs to be available and it needs to be used. That might seem obvious, but availability and use can both suffer if dispensers are inadequate or poorly placed.

For example, retailers report that small bottles of sanitiser placed near to entrances frequently get stolen. They're light, portable and widely purchased, so opportunistic theft can be a challenge. It’s a nuisance of course, but if the bottle has been stolen, then the sanitiser is no longer available for customers to use.

Similarly, dispensers won’t be used if they’re poorly placed. They may be difficult to see – obscured by internal fixtures or groups of people – or they may just be installed too far from wherever visitors would normally expect to find them.


Ideally, dispensers should be placed for maximum visibility and convenience: in arm’s reach of doors, lift call buttons, checkout tills and other common contact points.

Lockable, wall-mounted dispensers are generally a sound choice because they are fixed, robust and essentially immune to theft and tampering. Importantly, they can be placed in a visible position by doors and other key locations. Good signage and a robust, stainless steel dispenser should help to ensure user-recognition, easy use and trouble-free performance in even the most highly trafficked areas.

However, wall-mounting is not always an option. For example, where queues form, it might be more appropriate to provide a free-standing dispenser. If so, then a sturdy metal, floor-fixed unit will generally offer the greatest reliability and accessibility.

Hygiene awareness is here to stay and it demands a permanent solution. Consequently, making the move from quick-fix measures to the installation of dependable, visually attractive dispensers is going to be increasingly important. Ultimately, it represents an investment in safety, customer care and brand reputation.

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