Refreshing the Handwashing Experience

Categories: Innovations, Trends & Technology, Member Profiles

By ISSA Staff | September 30, 2020 << Back to Articles Refreshing the Handwashing Experience

Everyone is feeling the pressure to stop the spread of COVID-19. “Wash your hands” is advice repeated more often than any other time in history.

When you wash your hands, you want them not only clean, but soft and smelling fresh. You want a handwashing product that does that for you.

SC Johnson Professional® is able to do just that with its Refresh™ FOAM soap line. Created with input from many experts and users, the Refresh products are designed to promote handwashing while providing a pleasant experience.

A long history

It all started in 1886 when Samuel Curtis Johnson purchased the parquet flooring division from the Racine Hardware Manufacturing Company in Racine, Wisconsin, and named the new business SC Johnson®. The company’s principal product at that time was parquet flooring, but soon became much more. The company is one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the U.S.

Over the next 134 years, the company grew and expanded worldwide with its innovative products, great workplaces, and responsible action toward people and the planet.

SC Johnson Professional® is part of SC Johnson, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, pest control, shoe care, as well as professional products. The company has a long history in the professional market, in which it started operating in the 1930s.

SC Johnson then acquired Deb Group in 2015. Deb, now part of SC Johnson Professional, had been a world leader in occupational skin care and hand hygiene for over 80 years. In fact, the company had already launched the world’s first hygienically sealed inverted foaming soap pump and collapsible cartridge system in 1999. Most wall-mounted commercial foam soap dispensers sold in the world today still utilize Deb Foam Technology, including the new Refresh FOAM soap line.

A refresh on handwashing

Deb, part of SC Johnson Professional, took the lead, setting higher standards in hand hygiene, to “Make Hands Matter in the Workplace.” Thus, Refresh FOAM soap was born.

“To revolutionize something used for decades takes true ingenuity, determination, and vision,” says Mike Flagg, CEO North America of SC Johnson Professional. “To help us transform the hand soap category, we conducted extensive research seeking input from actual facility owners, cleaning professionals, fragrance experts, and users. From this research, we understood that the ultimate objective was to deliver a pleasant experience to encourage handwashing.”

They focused on three primary objectives in order to achieve Refresh FOAM soap:

Mild and gentle formulations: Formulated with a milder preservative than MCI/MI1, Refresh FOAM soaps contain added skin conditioners, making them pleasant on the hands and suitable for all ages. Washing with just one pump removes over 99% of dirt and germs when used properly. Additionally, the biodegradable formulations leave skin silky-smooth with no sticky residue.

A pleasant fragrance experience: This was achieved through their signature fragrances. Working with world-class fragrance designers, they created fresh fragrances that customers like and remember. With a signature scent at the heart of each fragrance, Refresh FOAM soaps have been proven to leave hands softly scented with a luxurious feeling that customers notice. It is available in a fragrance and dye-free formulation, in addition to the signature fragrances of Fresh Apple, Enchanted Rose, and Invigorating Citrus. 

Cost efficiency: Compared to traditional lotion soap, just one pump of Refresh FOAM soap takes care of your hands and your bottom line. Compared to traditional lotion soap, Refresh FOAM soaps:

  • Utilize 36% less product
  • Utilize 45% less water
  • Offer 30% more washes per liter
  • Have 26% less packaging waste.

A refresh on soap dispensing

Challenges have been faced in launching this product line. For instance, soaps for the commercial sector need more than a pretty bottle and label. They need to be available in a wide range of dispensing systems.

SC Johnson Professional has been able to make the Refresh FOAM soap line available for wall-mount dispensers (manual and touch-free), counter-mount, and tabletop bottles.

“You can save even more on maintenance costs by pairing Refresh soaps with our new transparent dispensers,” Flagg claims. “The Quick-View™ feature allows accurate product visibility from any distance or angle, maximizing maintenance efficiency. Our dispensers are guaranteed for life, quick to refill and easy to service.”

A refreshing reaction

“The product range is now available globally in all countries we service,” says Flagg. “The user acceptance has been very positive and will continue to help with our mission to encourage handwashing.”

In fact, at the 2019 ISSA Show North America, Refresh FOAM soap by SC Johnson Professional was named the winner of the 2019 ISSA Innovation Award in the Cleaning Agents category. Votes were cast by cleaning-industry distributors, building service contractors, and in-house service professionals. Refresh FOAM soap was selected as a leading innovative product for 2019.

More refreshing ISSA impacts

In addition to winning this latest ISSA Innovation Award, the ISSA Show provided the opportunity to expose and demonstrate to potential and existing customers the new product line. SC Johnson Professional was able to promote the award on its website, social media accounts, internal communications, and external newsletters.

“The key to the success of the new Refresh FOAM soap line was achieving the objective of delivering a pleasant experience to encourage handwashing. Being a member of ISSA provided access to users of soap products which then provided input for our development research,” claims Flagg.

1 Methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MI) is a preservative currently used in some cosmetics products. Studies have concluded that contact allergic reactions to MCI/MI are growing compared to other preservatives.


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