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Hand Sanitiser vs. Antibacterial Hand Soap - Which Is More Effective?

Hand Sanitiser vs. Antibacterial Hand Soap - Which Is More Effective?

The PROS and CONS of Hand Sanitiser.

Hand sanitizer has become a staple in purses, pockets, even on keychains — and for good reason. "Hand sanitizer can be more portable and accessible when people are on the go, which can increase the number of times they are able to disinfect their hands.

"The benefit of hand sanitizer is the ability to combat germs when water and soap are not immediately available." Sonpal adds that hand sanitizers are effective at neutralizing many microbes, viruses, and bacteria — but not all.

Hand sanitizers are active against all types of viruses except norovirus, which causes a certain type of diarrhea,so while they definitely serve a useful purpose, they're not a perfect prophylactic. Sanitizers also don’t protect against some types of bacteria, including one called C. difficile, which causes diarrhea from antibiotic overuse.

Some hand sanitizers can leave a residue that feels slick or uncomfortable for some users. Hand sanitizer can also sometimes be more expensive than hand soap, which is the preference of most doctors. Hand sanitizers are great in a pinch and are more convenient, but soap and water ultimately are better.

Why doctors prefer soap and water.

Although many homes and businesses keep large pump bottles of hand sanitizers readily available, it's best to think of hand sanitizer as a portable alternative when a sink and soap aren't accessible.

Why?... Viruses are most effectively killed and removed from hands with soap and water.

Hand sanitizer may kill viruses and certain bacteria, but it does not 'clean' your hands like soap and water do. Sanitizer doesn't remove actual dirt and debris. Soap kills germs, binds them, and helps physically remove them, with the water, off your skin and down the drain.

If you want to go the extra mile with antibacterial soaps you can, and they are generally much cheaper than hand sanitizers. Especially now.

Here is a few items we stock that would be effective to significantly reduce the risk:

What to look for in a hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available.

If your only option is hand sanitizer, make sure the one you're carrying is actually up to standard. That means checking the ingredients.

When water and soap are not immediately available, hand sanitizers with upwards of 60 percent alcohol are good second alternatives. The American FDA recommends consumers look for up to 95 percent ethanol or isopropanol.

Avoid 'alcohol-free' sanitizers as there isn't much data on those and they can vary in effectiveness. We know that alcohol kills viruses. Its recommended though, don't create your own hand sanitizer. You should buy quality-controlled and tested products that provide effective sanitation.

Another reason to stick to alcohol-based hand sanitizers: The alcohol in the sanitizer serves as a preservative, it’s less likely to be contaminated than alcohol-free sanitizers. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies alcohol-based hand sanitizers as an essential medicine.

No matter which you use, the technique is critical.

Whether you use soap and water or a hand sanitizer, you might as well be using nothing if you're not adhering to the correct methods. The type of soap used is less important than the way hands are washed. Every expert we spoke to insisted on scrubbing with soap and water for at least 20 - 40 seconds — so a splash of soap on the palms followed by a nearly instant rinse isn't going to cut it.

And you may be surprised to learn that the rules for properly using hand-sanitizer are even more stringent. Its a 3 step method:

  • Apply sanitizer liberally,
  • Rub palms together covering all surfaces,
  • Continue rubbing until hands are completely dry

The WHO guidelines expand upon the CDC's second step, clarifying that hand-sanitizer users should rub their right palm over the back of the left hand with interlaced fingers (and vice versa), rub palm to palm with fingers interlaced, and rub the backs of fingers to the opposing palms with fingers interlocked.

Alcohol-based sanitizers work by breaking down the germs, so not only do you have to have enough, the alcohol needs to hang around long enough to work"

It's recommended that you rub your hands with sanitizer until they fully air-dry. "That generally ensures enough exposure time. The exposure time really needs to be more than 20 seconds. If you only pump enough sanitizer so your hands are dry in 5 to 10 seconds, then that probably isn't enough.

When it comes down to it. if you have hand sanitiser - great. If you have antibacterial soap great - why not do both?

We may have limited stock of hand sanitiser not listed on our website. Please contact us for more information.