Is hand sanitiser more effective than soap?

Hand sanitiser v soap and water. It’s not exactly an age-old debate, but with the thought of hygiene and cleanliness more frequently moving to the forefront of everyone’s mind it's one that has rocketed in popularity. At the core is one question: Which of the two is really the most effective?

Contender number 1: Hand sanitiser

Hand sanitiser has long been the main staple of the bits and bobs buried at the bottom of your handbag; portable, quick and easy to use, its there for you when the sink in that public toilet is broke, for after you held that weirdly warm bus handrail, or for before you tuck into that lunch break sarnie. Not to mention it comes in a plethora of scents and cute packaging! Considering this, it’d be easy to think hand sanitiser should come up trumps, but it's not so black and white. 

Not all hand sanitisers are created equal

Alcohol content is important when it comes to hand sanitisers. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) In order for a hand sanitiser to really be effective, its alcohol content needs to be a minimum of 60%. But even then, your average hand sanitiser can’t combat all types of germs or clean off grease and visible dirt. 

Alcohol-based hand sanitisers can reduce the number of microbes on hands but sanitisers do not eliminate all types of germs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Then what about good old fashioned soap and water?

Soap and water not only kills germs that hand sanitiser can’t quite conquer but it also gets rid of any grime on the skin. Soap and water has been proven to be more affective than sanitisers. The US CDC says that soap and water are more effective than hand sanitisers at removing certain kinds of germs, like the winter-vomiting bug.

And if your hands or fingernails are dirty or greasy, sanitiser won't clean them - only soap and water will do. It's not just the soap alone that lifts germs from skin, but the friction caused by lathering, and washing away that truly gets the job done. The NHS advise to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (as long as it takes you to sing Happy Birthday twice) and they have a useful poster showing the best way to do it.

So which is the most effective?

At the end of the day soap and water is the most effective of the two (when done properly!), but if you’re on the go or in a pinch hand sanitiser is a great short term substitute.

Now you’re clued in on keeping your hands squeaky clean, want to tackle the dry skin all that washing has left you with? Check out our soothing 100% Shea Butter Moisturiser to give your hands a treat once you’ve got those germs at bay!

In the meantime have you got any Happy Birthday alternatives you soundtrack your 20 second hand wash to?

Let us know in the comments below! 


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