hand washing tube

With the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for good hand hygiene becomes more important than ever. The most popular way to perform hand hygiene is to use hand sanitizers or soap and water to wash your hands.

When choosing a hand sanitizer to kill germs and get rid of any other small particle matter on your hands, you should choose alcohol-based hand sanitizers with an alcohol concentration of 60-80%. These hand sanitizers work primarily because they are vehicles for alcohol, which is very effective at dissolving the protective outer layer of germs and disrupting their metabolism. Hand sanitizers come in different forms: gel, foam, and liquid. They are composed of alcohol-based active ingredients such as isopropanol or ethanol and inactive ingredients such as glycerine and scents.

When you use soap and water to clean your hands, it doesn’t matter what type of soap you use. Expensive soap, cheap soap, shaped soap, small soap, bar soap, or liquid soap are all equally effective. What matters, in the end, is handwashing technique and duration. In fact, to keep your hands clean, you should scrub your hands properly with soap and water. The liquid must reach all parts of the hands, including the fingers, around the nail beds, under the nails, and on the back of the hands. The soap molecules must attach to all germs on your skin before they can be flushed down the drain. That’s why you should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds to allow this process to take place.

Hand washing with bottle

You may wonder if your soap needs to be antibacterial to ensure optimal cleanliness. In fact, it shouldn’t be because the common flu, H1N1, covid 19, etc. are actually viruses and are therefore not affected by antibacterial sanitizers.  In a nutshell, soap, any soap, and water are all you need to get a satisfactory result.

Why is Hand Hygiene so Important ?

Germs, microbes, bacteria, and viruses are everywhere. The lodge in surfaces and stick to our hands when we touch them. Most of them are harmless, some are good for us, but others can make us sick. Some live naturally on the surface of our skin, others are picked up around us. However, we cannot control what we pick up on our hands and such, because these particles are microscopic in size.

 In fact, a healthy body starts with clean hands, especially during a pandemic. Your hands are actually the first means of transporting germs to your face, mouth, and nose, and then they get trapped in the small airways of the lungs when they are inhaled. So hand hygiene is your first line of defense against disease because it reduces the spread of infectious particles.

 So, if you are in close contact with people and touch surfaces such as tables, counters, public chairs, etc., you need to make sure that your hands are clean. Even indoors, you should keep your hands clean after using the bathroom, touching dirty surfaces, etc.

What is Better: Washing hands with Soap and Water or Hand Sanitizer?

Both hand sanitizer and hand washing are said to be effective in keeping hands clean. However, the question is, which is better: hand sanitizer or soap and water?

Today, more and more people prefer to use hand sanitizers rather than wash their hands thoroughly. They may not wash their hands with soap and water, even once a day.

However, they don’t know that hand sanitizers don’t kill all types of germs and that they become less effective as the day goes on and dirt accumulates on the hands. While hand sanitizer is easier to use because you simply pump to release the gel and your hand is instantly “clean,” it may not protect the user from illness in some circumstances. As powerful and effective as hand sanitizer is, it cannot be considered a substitute for handwashing.

Proper handwashing is the best way to get rid of germs and prevent infection.

Why is Soap more Effective?

A quick comparison of the effectiveness of hand sanitizer versus handwashing may be helpful and answer the question of why soap and water are more effective.

First of all, hand sanitizers are not intended to remove dirt and mud from hands. They are only effective in removing certain types of germs almost instantly. So, when hands are soiled, harmful particles can hide between layers of dirt and stay out of reach of alcohol. Soap and water, on the other hand, are primarily intended to remove visible dirt from hands. They are very effective at cleaning the hands of particles that are huge to microscopic in size.

hand washing against Covid-19

Second, when you cough or sneeze on your hands and have mucus on the surface of your skin, don’t rush to hand sanitizers, even if they are alcohol-based.  The mucus actually forms a protective shield around the virus or bacteria on your hands and prevents the alcohol from penetrating the virus or bacteria to inactivate it. In this case, you have no choice but to use soap and water which is very effective in removing the greasy particles.

Third, hand sanitizer works by penetrating the outer layers of germs and killing them. However, the residue remains on the surface of the hand and builds up more and more throughout the day as you use the hand sanitizer which inactivates more particles. You can’t even get rid of this invisible debris with water. The alcohol denatures the bacterial proteins, making them even stickier and harder to remove. The only solution is to use soap and water, which flushes the residue and dead cells into the sewer system.

Fourth, hand sanitizer can remove everything and nothing at once. The solution to this conundrum is quite simple. On the one hand, hand sanitizer can kill all types of bacteria, including the beneficial bacteria that are necessary for our bodies to function properly. On the other hand, hand sanitizer does little to remove harmful chemicals, pesticides, or heavy metals from hands.  To remove these substances, hand washing is still the optimal option.

Alcohol Poisoning in Kids with Hand Sanitizer

The substance commonly used in hand sanitizers is methanol or methyl alcohol, which is highly toxic and can be absorbed through the child’s skin. In addition, some children are immunocompromised because they are still building their immunity or have certain diseases. Any contact with toxic chemicals can therefore be hazardous to their health, especially if used directly on the body.

In addition, accidents related to hand sanitizer ingestion are increasingly common among teens and pre-teens. From an early age, children are very curious to taste any substance within reach. Hand sanitizer is no exception, especially when packaged in brightly colored bottles with scents that appeal to young children.

hand sanitizers bottle

When to Wash Hands

When it’s time to clean your hands, don’t opt for sanitizer first. At home, for example, when soap and sink are available and easy to reach, they are still the best way to clean your hands.  Hand washing is the traditional and most effective way to remove dirt from hands.

In addition, you have no choice but to use soap and water when you are in a germy situation, such as after using the toilet, changing a diaper, taking out the trash, etc. In these situations, hand sanitizer won’t do much to clean your hands. All you need is to get rid of the dirt in the drain, not keep it on your skin.

Also, if you work with chemicals all day, you definitely want to make sure your hands are clean at the end of your shift. This is the case for cleaning service workers, farmworkers who handle various forms of pesticides, automotive technicians, and any other profession where you have to work with ultra-powerful cleaning and degreasing agents. You certainly don’t want to go home with these products on your hands. However, hand sanitizer is the last thing you want to use to clean your hands, as the combination of liquid gel and chemicals can be very bad for your health.

When to Use Hand Sanitizer?

You cannot take a sink with you on the go. So the portability feature of hand sanitizer makes it almost the only alternative when you are outside. In fact, when you’re in a car, in public places, on the street, etc., and you touch a surface that you think could potentially transmit viruses or bacteria to your hands, you can use hand sanitizer because it’s a good alternative to traditional soap and water in such circumstances.

In addition, in environments such as schools, supermarkets, offices where there is a lot of foot traffic, germs spread quickly. The large number of people entering and leaving such environments makes it impossible for everyone to use the sinks and faucets in the building.  The right solution is to use personal hand sanitizers or public hand sanitizer dispensers as often as necessary to disinfect hands.

hand sanitizers giving

While traditional hand washing is the best option when it comes to cleaning and sanitizing hands, hand sanitizers are also reliable, especially when soap and water are not available, and they have their place in hand hygiene.

Conclusion:

Tell us what you think about your hand hygiene and how it will change after reading this article. And if you got something out of this article, share it with anyone you think could benefit from it – everyone, in fact.

Your comments, questions, and suggestions are valuable, so please take the time to write them down in the section below.

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