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Hand Sanitizer vs. Soap and Water

There is an ongoing debate going on these days. Hand sanitizer vs. soap and water. Which is best? Does it really matter which I use? Is one better than the other? Let's settle this argument.


Hand Sanitizer Facts


There are so many benefits of using hand sanitizers. For starters, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer helps to prevent the spread of germs and illness-carrying bacteria. It acts fast and alleviates having to find a bathroom or a sink to wash your hands. It is a lot more accessible. Hand sanitizer is also less irritating to your skin than it is using soap and water. Some sanitizers can even improve the condition of your skin.


Hand sanitizer is most effective when using the correct amount. In this case, less is definitely NOT more. You also want to make sure you let it dry completely before touching or wiping your hands. Not letting it dry, will lead to essentially no effectiveness, as you will wipe off the sanitizer not allowing the product to do its job.


It is very important to remember that hand sanitizer is not meant to clean your hands, but to disinfect. If you find that your hands are dirty, you will need to thoroughly wash your hands and only use the sanitizer if you are just needing to sterilize.

Soap and Water


Hand washing removes germs from your hands. Doing this helps prevent spreading of harmful bacteria and disease-causing organisms. People tend to frequently touch their eyes, mouth and nose, even if just out of habit, not realizing it is even happening. These are the areas of the body that germs find their way in.


Some may find that washing your hands with soap and water can be more irritating than if you were to just use hand sanitizer. If this is the case, you can check to see what pH level your soap is. Soaps can be neutral, acidic, or alkaline. Changing your soap to a different pH level could tremendously help your skin from irritating.


It is also worth mentioning that liquid soap is best, especially in the workplace or in a public facility. However, using bar soap is always better than using no soap.


You may think that using antibacterial soap is the only type of soap that will benefit you in preventing the spread of germs and bacteria. This is not true. Using soap of any kind the proper way and for the correct amount of time will benefit you just as much as antibacterial soap will. You should note that the proper amount of time to spend washing your hands is about 20 seconds.

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to either option. Neither one is better than the other and you won't go wrong choosing either.


Remember that applying hand sanitizer or using soap and water to wash your hands is only one step in keeping the best hand hygiene, especially during cold and flu season.


One last helpful tip is to always use a water-based absorbent hand cream or lotion 3-4 times a day - more if your hands are constantly in water.