Hand Hygiene Dispenser

Hand hygiene dispenser: manual or touchless?

When purchasing soap and hand sanitizer dispensers, hygiene managers and others often ask how they should be operated. In addition to the “classic” manual operation, for example via an arm lever, so-called touchless dispensers are becoming increasingly popular. We present the three top arguments for both approaches.

Dispenser systems for dispensing soap or hand sanitizer are an integral part of many facilities in order to implement hygiene standards. There is a wide range of solutions and products to choose from. The product solutions differ not only in terms of filling quantity, material, color or type of filling, but the market also offers two different methods of operation – manual or touchless.

Back in the 1960s, OPHARDT Hygiene developed and produced the ingo-man®, a soap dispenser with a lever, as an innovation leader. The history of manual hygiene dispensers is therefore long and the range has grown accordingly since then. Devices with non-touch technology only appeared on the market around the turn of the millennium, meaning that the number of product solutions is comparatively small.

We have identified the three top arguments for both approaches in order to help answer the fundamental question “manual or touchless?”.

The 3 most important arguments for a manual hygiene dispenser

When looking at the features of manual soap and hand sanitizer dispensers, the advantages can be divided into three categories: environment, economy and reliability.


Manual operation by hand, forearm or elbow means that no electrical energy is required to dispense the soap or disinfectant. This means that the use of batteries is avoided unless mains-powered soap or hand sanitizer dispensers are used. In addition to the monetary savings for the operator, resources and the environment are also effectively conserved.


Another important argument for choosing a hygiene dispenser is the price. When comparing a manual Euro dispenser with a touchless device of the same brand, it becomes clear that the touchless version is twice as expensive as the version with an arm lever. This can be seen not only in the manufacturers’ list prices, but also when looking at the prices of well-known retailers and online stores.


The fact that manual soap and hand sanitizer dispensers dispense reliably over hundreds of thousands of actuations was recently demonstrated by a series of tests carried out by TÜV Süd using the popular ingo-man plus Euro dispenser from OPHARDT [1]. During the test, the soap and hand sanitizer dispenser with operating lever achieved a consistent dosage even after over 1,000,000 activations. The testers came to the conclusion that the OPHARDT Euro dispenser is “fully functional” after reaching this mark and exhibits “low wear”. The absence of electronic components such as semiconductor parts reduces the risk of malfunctions during the operation of a manual hygiene dispenser. There is also no risk of batteries “running flat” and causing a malfunction.

The 3 most important arguments for a touchless hygiene dispenser

There are many synonyms for touchless hygiene dispensers: Automatic dispenser, sensor dispenser, touchless dispenser are just a few terms that pop up in the well-known Google search engine. However, all dispensers in this category have almost identical features. In my opinion, the three most important arguments for buying a touchless hygiene dispenser can be described as follows: Hygiene, convenience and smart integration.


Touchless dispenser systems are equipped with a sensor that detects the user’s hand and automatically sends a signal to dispense the soap or disinfectant. This means that people do not have to touch the hygiene dispenser, which prevents contamination of the appliance or the user’s hand with potentially pathogenic germs.

Another plus point in terms of hygiene is that touchless dispensers constantly dispense the same amount of soap or hand disinfectant, which optimizes the conditions for effective hand hygiene.


The decision “pro” touchless dispensers actually also has a positive impact on hand hygiene behavior. Scientific studies have shown that hand hygiene compliance in a hospital was significantly improved by replacing manual dispensers with touchless hand sanitizer dispensers. Specifically, the number of hand disinfections per patient day increased from 34 to 52 after the introduction of the touchless devices [2]. Contactless use is perceived by users as more convenient and pleasant – the force required to operate the device by pressing down a lever is also eliminated.

Smart integration

Digitalization is a topic that is also becoming increasingly important in the hygiene sector. As a pioneer in the field of digital hand hygiene, OPHARDT Hygiene has been offering dispenser systems with integrated intelligence for over a decade in order to record fill levels or consumption figures fully automatically. As an innovation leader, OPHARDT has recently combined contactless technology with smart functions on a single chip. For the future, this means that more and more touchless dispensers are equipped with intelligence ex works, providing hygiene managers with important data on hand hygiene compliance, for example.

The choice of hand hygiene dispenser must be evaluated individually

A look at the two operating methods presented shows that both manual and touchless hand sanitizer dispensers have valid arguments in their favor. Ultimately, the individual framework conditions must always be taken into account when making a choice.

Sources for the article “Hand hygiene dispenser: manual or touchless?”

[1] Technischer Bericht Nr. 7132204340 Rev. 0 vom 23.04.2021, TÜV Süd

[2] Scheithauer, S., Haefner, H., Koch, A., Lemmen, S. Increase of alcoholic hand disinfection performance due to new touchless dispensers. Abstracts of 21st ECCMID/27th


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