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Review of automatic soap dispensers

We tested devices from Simplehuman, Lysol, and iTouchless

Consumer Reports magazine: February 2013

“Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness,” according to the Mayo Clinic (and countless other experts). It’s especially important during cold and flu season. So you might be tempted by a device that dispenses soap automatically so that you “never have to touch a germy soap pump again,” as Lysol says of its Healthy Touch system. We tested that dispenser along with the iTouchless Wall-Mount and the Simplehuman Sensor Pump. We used each product near a sink and tested the life of its AA batteries.

You might wonder who needs a hands-free soap dispenser when you can just pump a bottle or pick up a bar, wash your hands, and walk away germ-free. But a touchless dispenser could be useful if you’d rather not touch a pump or bar with filthy or germy hands—after handling raw chicken, say.

Bottom line. All three dispensers worked fine, and their batteries lasted for thousands of uses. Lysol is the least expensive choice initially, though it uses disposable soap cartridges that can’t be easily refilled with less expensive liquid soap. Our iTouchless device developed small rust spots, making it less than ideal for use in a wet environment.

It has a brushed-nickel finish, and it held up well during six months of use. You can refill the dispenser with any liquid soap. The volume dispensed is widely adjustable.

We tried an all-plastic version ( “stainless look” is also available), and it held up well in a watery setting. But you’re supposed to use special soap cartridges with it, and the volume of soap dispensed can’t be adjusted.

It comes with a wall-mountable bracket and can be refilled with any liquid soap. The iTouchless has two volume settings for soap. But the stainless-steel sleeve of the sample we tested grew small rust spots over six months of sink-side use.

Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Look, No Hands: Automatic Soap Dispensers."  
   

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