What Is Better Hand Sanitizer or Hand Wash with Soap & Water?
Created by Somya Gupta Updated on Mar 17, 2020
With Coronavirus locking everyone in their houses, the only legible protection seems to be maintaining good hand hygiene. In my home, I’ve been using hand sanitizers more often than soap and water considering our contribution to the water conservation initiatives.
However, recent Covid-19 developments have put hand sanitizers in short supply. Recently I tried to get one for my home after our stock rand out and it turned out that, first you won’t get any, second, the price could be sky-high.
But, must we have sanitizer to beat Coronavirus infection? So I started digging the internet for clarity and here’s what I have found.
Hand soap and hand sanitizer might seem interchangeable, but they are meant for different circumstances. While sanitizer is smart to have on hand for when you are on the go, nothing beats a thorough hand wash with regular soap and water.
The Effectiveness of Soap
You might be surprised to know that soap doesn't kill germs. "Soap is a detergent, which is why it gets all sudsy and bubbly. Detergents work by dissolving both water and oil, so it simply washes the microbes off your hands like it would wash the grease off a dinner plate, says "Berezow".
The CDC says that hand washing, While doesn't directly kill germs, reduces the number of germs on your hands. Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers, especially when your hands are visibly dirty or greasy. After eating, playing sports, if your hands are soiled and greasy, then hand sanitizers aren't as effective.
It recommends that you wet your hands with running water, turn off the tap, and then scrub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, about the time it takes you to sing "Happy Birthday" from beginning to end twice over. When you work the soap into a lather, make sure to scrub under your fingernails, the backs of your hands, and between your fingers.
If you don't wash for at least 20 seconds, it makes a huge difference. As sone different washing methods and times to give you an idea of how much cleaner a thorough 20-30-second scrubbing provides.
Using soap is much more effective than cleaning with plain water because the soap contains surfactants, which are substances that lift oil and microbes from the skin. Though, antibacterial soap has not to be proven to be more effective than plain soap and water.
After you have lathered the soap, rinse your hands under clean running water and then immediately wipe them with a clean towel. Since germs can be transferred more easily from wet hands, it is important that you dry your hands as soon as you finish rinsing them. Soap and water will effectively prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria, but it will do no good against a current infection. However, washing your hands will help you prevent spreading your illness to other people.
The Effectiveness of Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer is a good backup if you don't have access to soap and running water. Though they require proper technique in order to be effective.
People generally don't use enough volume of hand sanitizer or spread it around their hands as far as they should. As per a study published by the American Council of Science & Research, you need to put at least palm-full (little more than half a teaspoon) of hand sanitizer in one use. The sanitizer needs to be in contact with your skin for at least 10 - 15 seconds for maximum effectiveness.
The application is simple — apply some product to the palm of one hand and rub the sanitizer thoroughly over the surfaces of your hands until your hands feel dry. Use the amount specified on the label of your product.