It’s hard to believe that a couple of years ago hand sanitizer was not a commonly seen product. Although it could be bought virtually anywhere, it was generally seen as unnecessary. After all, a few bacteria on your hands helps to keep your immune system strong.
Then, COVID appeared and people were suddenly very aware of the danger of bacteria and viruses on their hands. Sanitizer sales jumped by 600% and it seems unlikely that they will reduce even after the pandemic.
After all, it is clear that either washing your hands or using hand sanitizer is one of the biggest things we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Of course, hand sanitizer is very convenient, it can be easily carried with you and used whenever you feel you may have been exposed or at risk.
However, which is better, hand washing or using hand sanitizer?
Scientists are sure that hand washing is the better option. Washing for at least 30 seconds with soap and warm water has been shown to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. Naturally, you do need to ensure your hands are washed properly. That means all parts of your hands are covered with soap and it is lathered while rubbing your hands for at least 30 seconds.
You can then rinse your hands in warm water and dry them on a clean towel.
Herein lies some of the issues when you are out of your home. It is impossible to know if the person in front of you has washed their hands properly before touching anything else. This is why sharing towels in public is not a good option.
Hand dryers blow air around, potentially spreading disease. The best option is paper towels. Because it can be difficult to confirm that your hands are actually clean after using public washrooms, hand sanitizer is often seen as the safer option.
Hand sanitizer is effective at killing bacteria on your hand. However, it is not as effective as washing your hands properly. In other words, even after using hand sanitizer, it is possible bacteria are still on your hands.
Alongside this, many people aren’t using the hand sanitizer properly. They apply it, rub their hands together and then wipe them on their jeans or another item of clothing.
But, for the sanitizer to be effective it must dry on your hands. That can take as little as thirty seconds. But, it can also take as long as 100 seconds.
Doing it properly means putting the desired amount of sanitizer in one hand and then rubbing your hands together until they are completely dry again.
Washing your hands is more effective than using hand sanitizer. However, the practicality of the matter is that hand sanitizing is often the easier and more pragmatic choice when you are out. The best approach is to use sanitizer when there is no other option and wash your hands the rest of the time.