Grasp Should Exceed Reach

In the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, September 15, 2010 reference to soap (and towel) dispensers is in Advisory 606.1 General, Lavatories and Sinks and references 308 Reach Ranges. The section is located under 606 Lavatories and Sinks.

There are no other references to “soap” or “soap dispensers” in the standards except for referencing the “reach” by different age groups and an unobstructed forward high reach of 48” and a low reach of 15” mentioned in Advisory 308.1 General. It states an obstructed high reach should be 34” maximum and a depth of 24”.

Remember that “Advisory Notes” are provided for informational purposes only and are not necessarily mandatory. Advisory notes try to clarify the meaning of a requirement or provide recommendations for good practice.

The ADA standard tells us “reach” is the most important factor in installing soap dispensers to be used by children and people in wheelchairs. The consideration of placement of a soap dispenser is the designers or contractors choice based on reach. The standard does not currently specify manual or automatic dispensing.

Generally, soap dispensers will fall under the specification category of “Automatic Liquid Soap Dispenser” or “Automatic Soap Dispenser.” Sometimes the wording might be like:

  • “Automatic dispenser with infrared sensor to detect presence of hands; battery powered, designed for dispensing soap in liquid or lotion form.”
  • “Basis of Design Product: subject to compliance with requirement.”
  • “Soap Dispenser: Automatic Counter-Mounted Foam Soap Dispenser shall dispense controlled amount (0.8m) of Soap.”

There appears to be no restriction for the wall mounted manual dispensers except for “reach” and height.

Recently, ConstructConnect™ listed over 4,292 projects of soap dispenser placements based on “reach” for ADA restrooms. Only a few mentioned a manufacturer. The field is wide open to position for someone to position their dispensers in this uncontested market area.

Types of Soap Dispensers

Soap dispensers come in manual or sensor-operated and dispense lotion or antimicrobial soap or disinfectant or foam and are manufactured by roughly 25 companies. Soap refills can come in cartridges or bags. Soap dispensers are normally wall mounted but can be deck mounted singly or in a combination of faucet and soap dispenser.


There are numerous manufacturers of soap dispensers for ADA restrooms and standard restrooms.

Bradley Corporation. Bradley is one of the most complete and advanced manufacturers of commercial washrooms and comprehensive solutions for emergency, safety, and industrial applications. You will find 32 ADA compliant soap dispensers on their site including the new Verge ADA soap dispenser line on their website.

Bobrick Washroom Equipment, Inc. Bobrick is a recognized name in well-designed, value-oriented restroom accessories and toilet partitions. You will find over 30 soap dispensers when you search for “soap dispensers” on their website including 9 of their designer models including B-852 designer series on their website.

Stern Engineering. Stern offers a comprehensive range of products with state-of-the-art electronics for the complete automated bathroom experience and has worldwide network of local agents and distributors in over 80 countries. Stern is committed to green building and to providing smart water solutions that maximize water efficiency and achieve LEED points. There are 12 models including the Behind the Mirror soap dispenser on their website.

Rubbermaid/Technical Concepts. For 50 years, Rubbermaid Commercial Products has pioneered world-class product solutions that meet the challenging demands of commercial facilities while outperforming and outlasting the competition. Rubbermaid is proud to be the global leader of the commercial cleaning industry, delivering exceptional products.  Technical Concepts was acquired and rebranded by Rubbermaid and has steadily grown to become one of the largest distributors of automatic commercial restroom, water conservation, and plumbing products in the United States. Technical Concepts has a wide variety of electronic soap dispensers in various styles and finishes.

San Jamar. San Jamar’s, washroom products come directly from insights gained from their customers and respond with ground-breaking new products that make operations smarter, safer, and more sanitary. It has made San Jamar a leader in products like Ocean® soap and hand sanitizer dispensers for over 20 years. San Jamar is part of the CFS Brands family.

[email protected] Products. The Delta® brand is more than just a faucet. It is a WaterSense® partner of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Delta is a global organization offering kitchen and bath faucets, showerheads, tub and shower systems, toilets, soap dispensers and related accessories. Delta has a selection of 84 soap dispensers available in a wide variety of finishes and ADA compliance.

Alpine Industries. Alpine Industries, headquartered in Irvington, NJ, is a manufacturer of innovative, solution-based products for commercial and institutional markets worldwide. The Alpine Industries brand is known for its high-quality products, specifically in the foodservice and janitorial sectors of the industry. Alpine Industries has a selection of soap dispensers in manual and automatic listed as ADA including soap and hand sanitizer combinations.

Frost Products. Frost Products Ltd. has been manufacturing and distributing a full line of quality Washroom Accessories for over 50 years. Their products are typically specified for architectural, new construction and janitorial markets. Frost has a selection of soap dispensers, of which, two are listed as ADA compliant.

Better Living Products. Better Living concentrates on utilizing noble materials, such as stainless steel, aluminum, chrome and nickel to deliver the absolute best quality to their customers with thoughtful shower and bath products including a large selection of soap dispensers that blend seamlessly into contemporary home décor.

Simplehuman. Simplehuman designs tools that help people become more efficient at home. Through innovation and new technologies, they find ways to streamline simple task for efficient living. Simplehuman has a selection of liquid and foam soap dispensers.

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