Hand Wash vs Hand Sanitiser: Which One Is More Effective For Hand hygiene?

Using soap and running water for regular hand washing or hand hygiene practices is considered one of the best defenses against the spread of bacteria, viruses, and microbes that can negatively affect your health and well being. 

However, when water and soap are not available, in situations like using public transport, or being in a crowded place hand sanitisers can be a portable, effective, and convenient alternative to keeping your hand hygiene in check.

Generally speaking, Australian and international hand hygiene guidelines recommend alcohol-based hand sanitisers and hand washing as the best methods for removing microbes. But when it comes to the hygiene battle between those two which one should you choose? Read through to get familiar with some scientific analysis on those methods in addition to some useful tips.

How often do I need to clean my hands?

In general, you should try to wash your hands often to ensure the well being of you and your loved ones, especially during key times when you’re more likely to get and spread germs and bacteria. Try to wash your hands whenever they are dirty.

Keep in mind to also wash your hands: 

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the restroom
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After handling garbage or garbage bags 
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats

How to choose between washing hands or using sanitiser?

Typically, hand sanitisers are more effective in killing bacteria and most viruses. At the same time, handwashing can effectively remove all dirt, chemicals, and microbes on the hands. 

All elements of handwashing are key to ensuring healthy hygiene habits. So, if you are implementing any of the methods, you are already ahead of the game. 

Generally, hand washing is recommended as the primary and most effective hand hygiene practice. But where soap and water are not available for you, you can always use alcohol-based hand sanitisers that contain at least 60% alcohol. You can find the percentage of alcohol in the product included on the product label.

Note from Hyex: Sanitisers are effective solutions in quickly reducing the number of germs on hands in many situations. However, consider that:

  • Hand sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs
  • There are some harmful chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals that cannot be removed by hand sanitisers
  • In cases when hands are visibly dirty or greasy hand sanitisers are not as effective as regular handwashing with soap.

The pros and cons of hand sanitisers:

Like with every other product, there are some good and bad sides to the use of hand sanitisers. 

The pros of hand sanitisers:

• Hand sanitisers kill germs. One of the primary benefits of hand sanitisers is the ability to kill germs and bacteria. Typically, they contain antiseptic ingredients. Those ingredients are substances used on the skin to kill microorganisms or prevent the growth of microorganisms.

• Hand sanitisers are cost-effective and long-lasting. Most hand sanitisers are relatively affordable and contain a shelf life of 2-3 years. At a time of consistent use, even small bottles of hand sanitisers can last for weeks, while large bottles can be used for months, making less need for regular purchases. 

• Accessibility. If you are constantly on the go, hand sanitisers are the best alternative to hand washing. They are small and easy to carry around, and you can access them almost everywhere. 

The cons of hand sanitisers:

• Some hand sanitisers are ineffective. As mentioned earlier, hand sanitisers should contain at least 60 per cent alcohol for them to be effective. As with any other products, it’s important to read the information on labels. In the case of hand sanitisers, make sure that they contain at least 60 per cent alcohol concentration to kill bacteria and viruses.  

• Hand sanitisers cannot be used on grime. While hand sanitisers are effective against germs, those cannot be used to remove dirt, blood, fluids, or grease from hands. In such scenarios, hand washing should be applied. 

• Hand sanitisers may weaken immunity to germs.  Some researchers argue that frequent use of hand sanitisers can cause resistance to both bad and good bacteria, which could lead to a weakened immune system. Health authorities acknowledge this data and highlight the importance of handwashing over the use of hand sanitiser.

Why doctors give the privilege to hand washing

Medical experts typically consider hand washing as the gold standard for maintaining proper hand hygiene simply because soap and water are more thorough.

Hand sanitisers don’t remove actual dirt and debris, while soap effectively kills germs, and helps to remove all the dirt off your hands physically.

Concluding Thoughts:

Handwashing should always be an integral part of your hygiene. When it comes to choosing the most effective hand hygiene methods, medical professionals recommend hand washing with water and antibacterial soap

However, hand sanitisers are proven to be effective in preventing the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. Hence, you can use hand sanitisers whenever you don’t have access to a washroom. 

Hyex is happy to provide a wide range of hand hygiene products that will help you develop healthy hygiene habits. 

Make sure to check our products and make a purchase today! 

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