Is using hand sanitizer just as good as washing your hands?

Is using hand sanitizer just as good as washing your hands?

Your hands have the most contact with other people, objects and your own selves, think about how often you mindlessly touch your face throughout the day. So, while head-to-toe hygiene is a priority during this Covid-19 pandemic, there is an especially strong focus now on keeping your hands clean when it comes to preventing the spread of disease-carrying germs.

Whether you use hand sanitiser every 2 minutes or prefer washing your hands with soap and water, you are already ahead of the game. Both are far better at limiting the transmission of many viruses and bacteria than not doing anything to purify your hands. But is one approach more effective than the other? Let’s find out.

Pros And Cons Of Hand Sanitiser

Over the last year, hand wash refill has become a staple in purses, pockets and even on keychains and of course, for good reason. Small hand sanitiser bottles are more portable and accessible when you are on-the-go, increasing the number of times you are able to disinfect their hands. This reduces the likelihood of transmitting viruses by human contact. Liquid hand sanitisers help combat germs when soap and water are not immediately available.

Many studies have shown that hand sanitisers work really well in a clinical setting like a doctor’s office or hospital, where hands come in contact with germs but generally are not heavily soiled or greasy. However, when hands may become very greasy or soiled in community settings like after eating food, playing sports, working in the garden or camping or fishing. In such settings, washing your hands with soap and water is recommended.

Hand sanitisers may be able to kill viruses and certain bacteria but it does not really ‘clean’ your hands as soap and water do. Sanitisers don’t remove actual dirt and debris. Soap kills germs, binds them and helps physically remove them, with water, off your skin and down the drain.

What Kind of Hand Sanitiser Should You Choose?

If you really want to keep a hand sanitiser handy, make sure you are carrying is actually up to par. This means checking the ingredients. When choosing a hand sanitiser, you should look for one that has 60% and more of alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol) content. You must avoid ‘alcohol-free’ sanitisers as there is not much data available on those and can vary in effectiveness. Always choose quality-controlled and tested products that provide effective sanitation.

Using Technique

Whether you are using soap and water or a liquid hand sanitiser, you need to know the correct way to. Every expert insists on scrubbing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds so a splash of soap on the palms followed by a nearly instant rinse is not going to cut it.

The rules on using hand sanitiser are even more stringent. Pour sanitiser liberally, rub palms together covering all surfaces, between fingers, backs on fingers and back of palms. And rub until your hands are completely dry.

Alcohol-based sanitisers work by breaking down the germs so not only do you have to have enough sanitiser, the alcohol in it needs to hand around long enough to work. The same goes for washing your hands with soap and water. The correct and consistent regime of sanitising is the key to stopping the spread of infection.