Liquid Soap vs.Foam Soap: Which One Wins the Water Savings Battle?

Liquid Soap vs.Foam Soap: Which One Wins the Water Savings Battle?

Nicole Koharik


By Nicole Koharik

Corporate Communications Director, GOJO Industries

Building and facility managers are not strangers to rising water costs. In fact, according to a 2012 Michigan State University Study of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI), water and sewer costs had risen by 7% between 2000 and 2012.1 This is more than double the rate of increase of the CPI during the same time period. Additionally, the EPA’s Watersense Program cites the restroom as the #1 source of water consumption in the commercial building sector at 37% of total water consumption.2 

Overcoming the Rising Costs
So what can building and facility managers do to combat these rising costs? One way is to take a closer look at the hand soap they are using throughout their buildings and facilities.

That's right; the soap you are using actually has an impact on the amount of water you use. According to a new study conducted by Strategic Research Partners and GOJO, 10% more water is used when liquid soap is used in day-to-day handwashing activities.3

Commercial consumers with high traffic in restrooms, such as airports, entertainment venues, public attractions, or large office buildings, can potentially see several million hand washes annually. For these soap consumers, a 10% reduction in water from handwashing has a significant impact. In fact, this can mean that for every one million hand washes, the liquid soap user would consume 14,800 more gallons of water than the foam soap user. This means making the switch to foam soap could have a positive impact on your bottom line.

How the Study was Conducted
One hundred people were asked to wash their hands how they would normally at two different sink stations. No instructions other than to wash your hands was given.

One station was equipped with a touch-free dispenser that dispensed liquid soap, and the other had a touch-free dispenser with foam soap. The dispensers dispensed the same amount of soap for each handwash. After each individual washed his or her hands, the amount of water used was measured and recorded.  In the end, it was found that 10% less water was used when foam soap was used for handwashing.

Other Benefits of Foam Soap
Along with the cost savings of 10%, there are other benefits to using foam soap. These include:
1.    Less solids than liquid soaps
2.    Restroom users like the feel of the soap
3.    Rinses cleaner to reduce drain maintenance
4.    Eliminates drips, stains and clogs

GOJO offers a full line of foam soaps including green certified options, which are a part of the world’s largest portfolio of green certified soaps and sanitizers. Learn more at GOJO.com/sustainability.

[1] Beecher, J., March 2012, Trends In Consumer Prices For Utilities Through 2011, Michigan State University IPU Research Note. Retrieved August 12, 2014, from http://ipu.msu.edu/research/pdfs/IPU-Consumer-Price-Index-for-Utilities-2011-2012.pdf
[2] EPA Watersense Program. “Saving Water in Office Buildings.” Retrieved September 5, 2014, from http://www.epa.gov/watersense/commercial/docs/factsheets/offices_fact_sheet_508.pdf
[3] 2014 Strategic Research Partners, Hand Soap Water Usage Study.

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