Wash Your Hands With Soap And Hand Sanitizer? Which Is Better?

If you want to sterilize your hands quickly, you can reach the hand sanitizer bottle. But how effective is sanitizer compared to washing hands with soap and water?

Alcohol-based cleansers can be used to clean hands, but they should not be needed as a choice for soap and water. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers (with alcohol percentages of 60% or more) can shrink the number of germs, it cannot reduce the spread of a number of viruses, rich in norovirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To understand more about the comparison between soap and alcohol-based sanitizers, let's look below.

Pros and cons of washing hands using a hand sanitizer

Although hand sanitizers can reduce the growth of certain microorganisms, there are a number of pros and cons available from experts regarding the following alcohol-based hand sanitizers:

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is not a good cleaning agent in eradicating impurities. They were never intended to be used as a substitute for washing hands in all situations. if there is visible dirt on your hands, sanitizer will not be effective for cleaning it.

The CDC indicates that sanitizers can deactivate many microbes really effectively if used correctly. however, many people do not use sanitizers with sufficient volume or even rub their hands during the recommended time (between 40-60 seconds).

Two primary issues that can challenge nurses in meeting hand hygiene are time and access to washing hands. because the sanitizer doesn't want a sink and a pipe, then the alcohol-based cleaner can be placed anywhere. You can even carry it in your pocket.

Dr. Richard T. Ellison III of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said that sanitizers can replace soap and water if there is no visible impurities on the hands. The antibacterial in alcohol is very effective in killing microorganisms, but alcohol must directly touch the microorganism. if there is a lot of dirt on the hands, the sanitizer might not reach the microorganisms available under the dirt.

Pros and cons of washing hands with soap

According to the CDC, washing hands with soap and water is the best way to wash hands. even so, washing hands with soap also found deficiencies. Here are the pros and cons of using soap when washing hands:

Dr. David Hooper, head of the Infection Control Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, revealed that sanitizers are practical and quick when used. The research also explains that it has antibacterial activity faster than soap and water. where you live sick using a sanitizer because if you wash your hands with soap and water a few times a day, the skin will become dry, especially in cold weather.

Carol McLay, RN, an Infection Prevention Consultant in Lexington, Ky, revealed that washing hands with soap is the most effective in preventing the spread of disease. although sanitizers can shrink the number of bacteria quickly on your hands, but they cannot eliminate all types of germs.

How to wash hands properly

1. With soap and water

The CDC indicates that the best technique for germ-free hands is to use soap and warm water to wash your hands. The right technique is very decisive. You must place your hands under clean warm water, use soap, then rub your hands together for 20 seconds. You can measure the time by singing the song "ABC" or the song "Happy Birthday" from beginning to end. After that, rinse your hands thoroughly, then use a clean towel or hand dryer to dry your hands.

2. With sanitizer

If you use a sanitizer, make sure that it contains 60% alcohol. if it is less than that, then it will not be effective in cleaning germs. When applying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, at least as much as half a teaspoon, rub your hands for 15-20 seconds until the hands dry. It also means to note that sanitizers do not kill all types of germs.


If you have a choice, washing your hands with soap and water should always be your first selection. Although both are good for cleaning hands, it is useful to remember that sanitizers cannot be used as a substitute for soap and water. Instead, it's just a selection if you don't have the tools to wash your hands with soap.