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Does Size Matter?

With hand sanitizer being such a necessity nowadays, most public places like stores, restaurants, gyms, and workplaces have hand sanitizer readily available to all whom enter the premises. In response to this increased demand, hand sanitizer suppliers have answered with larger container sizes, usually with some form of a pump or sprayer. This brings us to the question - is bigger better?

The answer is dependent upon the particular situation and upon buyer preferences. Places with higher traffic are more likely to opt for a larger container size, such as a gallon jug, based on the idea that they will not have to refill or replace the container as often as if they offered a pint or smaller bottle. Logic says that a jug holding 128 ounces of hand sanitizer will last longer than a bottle containing 16 ounces. To be accurate however, one must take into consideration the amount being dispensed from each container with each use.

Gallon jugs, when not being used to refill smaller containers, will often be used with a pump. The pumps that fit gallon jugs typically dispense 1 ounce of product. Mathematically this means you should get 128 uses out of one gallon jug. While 1 ounce does not sound like much, when you have it in your hands it is a different story. I have a daughter who works for a public store that offers gallons jugs for consumers to use while shopping. Even though they warn customers to be easy when dispensing, people will instinctively press all the way down thus filling their hands with the full 1 ounce of product. The customer quickly realizes what they have in their hands is far more than needed to cover their hands properly. Considerate customers will look for a towel to wipe off the excess, but more often than not, people will simply drop the remaining sanitizer onto the floor. Being that hand sanitizer is a highly alcoholic product, this has led to many spots of the floor coating being eaten away. 

A typical 16 ounce bottle can either have a pump, like a lotion bottle, or a sprayer, like a bottle of fragrance. The lotion pump delivers approximately 1/16 of a fluid ounce, or 1.84 mL. The reason we're looking at mL is because the amount a sprayer dispenses is measured in mL. The sprayer on a 16 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer is most likely going to give you 0.14 to 0.16 mL with each pump of the sprayer. An average person's hand will require 2-3 sprays of hand sanitizer to properly cover both their hands. This is a total of 0.42 to 0.48 mL of sanitizer needed. Therefore, even the lotion style pump for a 16 oz bottle dispensing at 1.84 mL is still far more than necessary. 

As for number of uses in a 16 ounce bottle, the math says that with a lotion pump, you should get approximately 257 pumps of sanitizer. While with a sprayer, using 3 sprays per use, the math comes to 985 uses. These of course, are estimates based strictly on mathematics and do not take into account environmental variables such as evaporation or if the dispenser is working at full efficiency. 

Another thing to note is that the finger sprayers are usually used on liquid hand sanitizer while lotion style pumps and gallon jug pumps are typically used with gel sanitizer, but even with gel, the amount needed is still much less than the amount dispensed.

So it really boils down to the preference of the person or place offering the hand sanitizer. Do they want efficiency with the number of uses? Or do they prefer convenience, which the typical idea is that a pump is more convenient than picking up a bottle to spray. That idea brings you back to the part where pumps dispense more than what is actually needed and now you either need to provide a means for the user to dispose of the excess (e.g. tissues or towels), or expect them to toss it wherever. As well, the container will run out of sanitizer product faster with pumps than with sprayers. 

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