Is hand sanitising as good as hand washing?
When we were kids, our parents seemed to be constantly telling us to wash our hands because of germs. Fast forward to 2020 and thanks to public enemy number one, COVID-19, keeping your hands clean has become more important than ever. But is it worth making the effort to find a basin and soap throughout the day when you’ve got a trusty hand sanitiser in your bag?
The difference between hand sanitiser and soap and water.
By now we all know the drill – wash your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds, sing happy birthday twice, don’t touch your face, no more high fives. And if you’re on the go with no access to soap and water, a few squirts of sanitiser will do the trick.
So what’s the difference? Well, bacteria and viruses are tiny, and can easily lurk in the cracks and crevices of your hands. Soap rather cleverly binds them together, and attacks their oily exteriors, breaking them down and showing them who’s boss. When you rinse, they’re all washed away forever. Here’s what Unesco has to say about it.
Hand sanitiser works differently. As long as it has an alcohol content of at least 60%, it too will attack and kill bacteria and viruses. But because you’re not using running water after application, they stay on your skin.
Just like soap, it’s important that the hand sanitiser you use remains on your hands for a short period of time – the alcohol needs a chance to get to all those lurking nasties. Some experts recommend a liberal squirt in the palm, then rubbing your hands, ensuring to cover the fingers, then repeating on the back of your hands, continuously rubbing until dry.
Face the world with confidence.
As we go about our everyday lives, we interact with a lot of things out in the world. It’s always worth having some hand sanitiser handy, and reaching for it after opening doors, using a self-service checkout, ATM, or pushing the buttons on pedestrian crossings. But when possible, and definitely at work, you should use soap and water to wash your hands throughout the day. Used alongside a face mask, being mindful of what you touch and social distancing, keeping your hands clean and is the best way to stay safe, and carry on enjoying life.