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What is Foam Soap?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2014
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Foam soap is a form of liquid soap that has been whipped with air to create a foam of soap bubbles. This style of soap is classically sold in specialized dispensers, often for institutional use, although it can also be used at home. It comes in several different styles for various uses, and is usually readily available at drugstores and other stores which stock soaps and personal care supplies.

For manufacturers, the advantage of foam soap is that they do not need to make as much soap. They argue that it is also easier to lather, encouraging people to use soap properly, and that since many people overuse soap, the dispensers provide a more appropriate amount of soap for basic hand washing needs. This soap is also thinner, making the dispensers less prone to clogging.

Using foam soap also supposedly reduces waste, because the soap is easy to apply, in contrast with regular liquid soap, which may spill onto the sink or into the drain. In cost-conscious applications, it can be a much better choice than conventional soap for this reason.

Like other soaps, foam soap can be formulated with antibacterial or antimicrobial properties, and it can be scented or unscented, with added ingredients to moisturize the skin and other add-ons to make the soap more appealing. Many people associate this soap with industrial uses, like hospital restrooms, but some companies make luxury versions for home use with a focus on sweet smells and natural ingredients.

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This soap requires a special dispenser because it is thinner than regular soap. If it is used to fill a normal soap dispenser, it will tend to come out in excess, making a big mess. Conversely, regular soap cannot be used to fill a foam soap dispenser, because it will clog the mechanism, although regular soap diluted with water can usually be safely used.

Because foam soap is often pressurized, it cannot simply be poured from a large refill jug into a dispenser. Some companies design dispensers with disposable cartridges that can be popped out and replaced when they run out of soap, while other dispensers are designed for a single use. Single use dispensers are common in environments where people are worried about bacteria and other germs, as it can be hard to keep a permanent fixture clean.

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Discuss this Article

anon305171
Post 6

How can you stop the settling down of the sodium silicate based liquid detergents? Please suggest some liquid thinning agents.

anon278487
Post 5

Actually, they do make a foam soap dispenser that is easy to refill with regular liquid soap. It just like a regular liquid soap dispenser except the pumping mechanism is designed a bit differently to whip the soap with air at dispensing time. No pressurization is used at all. Just dilute the regular liquid soap with some distilled water (about half water half soap or three quarters water and one quarter water should do).

anon261785
Post 4

I know my hands are clean when there is a good lather. Having pre-lathered soap makes me feel like people are lazy. I can certainly see the other advantages, but soap is for cleaning, so I do not think this is an advancement.

naturesgurl3
Post 3

I do a lot of painting and working on my house, so I love that Gojo foam soap. Now if only you could use that to make a bath out of foam soap, I'd be all over that!

EarlyForest
Post 2

The office where I work has recently gotten some of those automatic antibacterial foam soap dispensers, and though I don't know what it's done for our hygiene, the entertainment level on floor 5 is through the roof!

closerfan12
Post 1

I really do like to keep foam hand soap on tap because it cleans up so much easier than the thicker gel soap. But you're right the foam soap refills are a pain!

I wish they would make a foam soap pump that would take soap out of regular bottles, instead of having to fool with a canister.

Although I guess you can't really put foam soap in bottles...then it wouldn't be foamy.

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