Hand Sanitizer Vs. Handwashing

Which is better hand sanitizer or soap? How many times have you reached for hand sanitizer in lieu of using clean water and soap? Sanitizer may be beneficial when you’re on the go or stuck without a source of water. The question, however, is how effective is the sanitizer in killing germs as opposed to a good ol’ fashioned hand washing? The answer may surprise you.

Reducing Germs And Bacteria

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that while alcohol based sanitizers certainly aid in reducing germs and bacteria, there are some types of bacteria that it has no effect on. Time and again, soap and water have proven to be more effective at removing certain types of germs. These common germs include including Cryptosporidium, norovirus, and Clostridium difficile. A sanitizer’s effectiveness also fluctuates based on the amount of dirt, grease, and oil on your hands.

Not All Sanitizers Are Created Equal

There are a number of sanitizer options available – gel, foam, alcohol based, alcohol free, scented, and more. If you have to reach for the sanitizer, check the bottle’s active ingredients. Studies have shown that products with an alcohol content of between 60-95 percent kill more germs than sanitizers with a lower alcohol content or alcohol-free options. Most sanitizers work to kill 99.9 percent of germs. It is true that sanitizer kills the good bacteria on your hands as well as the bad. This is not an issue, however, for long-term health. The good bacteria on your hands can be easily repopulated by touching your hands to another portion of your body.

Hand Sanitizing Techniques

Sanitizer should never be used as a standalone replacement for washing your hands. Sometimes you may find yourself in a bind where soap and clean water aren’t available. If so, follow the recommended guidelines of the centers for disease control including:

– Use a product with an alcohol content of at least 60 percent

– Apply the sanitizer to the palm of one hand, verifying the proper amount by checking the label’s directions

– Rub your hands together

– Apply the sanitizer to the entirety of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry once again

Maintain Good Hand Health

The most important factor is removing potential disease-causing germs from your hands in order to keep you healthy. Even the best alcohol based hand sanitizers will not remove harmful chemicals from the hands such as pesticides and heavy metals. Sanitizers may kill cold and flu viruses, but they won’t do the trick on hands caked with dirt and grim.

Wash Your Hands

There are some moments in life where sanitizer should never be used as a replacement for cleaning your hands with soap. You should practice good hand hygiene before, during, and after food preparation as well as before eating. Additionally, always make sure to wash your hands after using the restroom, cleaning up waste, treating wounds, and handling garbage. It should be done after touching an animal as well as after coughing, sneezing, and blowing your nose. Hands should also be washed before and after being around someone you know is sick.

Hand Washing Techniques

Proper hand washing is important. This is especially true when your hands are visibly dirty. It is also paramount when you have been around areas high in germs. Handwashing is important for your everyday health as well. Follow these steps to effectively wash your hands:

– Wet your hands with clean running water and apply a quarter-sized dollop of soap onto your palm

– Rub your hands together

– Lather and scrub each section of your hand – between your fingers, under your fingernails, and the backs of your hands

– Scrub your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds

– Rinse your hands thoroughly under running water

– Dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry machine

Which is better hand sanitizer or soap?

Whether you go with sanitizer or washing , both are effective at reducing germs. Handwashing goes the extra mile by physically removing germ spores and dirt from your hands. This process kills germs and preventing the spread of pathogens that could make you sick. It isn’t the soap per se that makes hand washing more effective. Washing with soap loosens the germs from your hands. It is then the friction of scrubbing your hands that washes away the bacteria. Read more about how soap works to rid your hands of bacteria here.

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