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Why Washing Your Hands Works Better Than Using Hand Sanitiser

Both hand washing and using sanitiser have their pros, but according to research washing your hands according to the guidelines works better in fighting off viruses. Read this article to find out more!

person in white shirt washing hands

Pros of hand sanitiser

The main reason why hand sanitiser has become such a big “hit” during the pandemic is its convenience. You can take a bottle with you anywhere you go, and a small bottle lasts for long as only a little is needed at once. In addition, using a hand sanitiser takes less time and effort than washing your hands. Right now, hand sanitiser is available in several places as well, and seeing dispensers wherever you go reminds you to take some.

With a new type of illness, people also want to have something “new” to protect themselves. Right now, there is no cure for covid-19, but instead people seem to view hand sanitiser – although it is not a new product itself – as something that can provide protection.

person holding white plastic pump bottle

Pros of hand washing

According to research hand washing works better than hand sanitiser because hand sanitiser does not remove the viruses and bacteria, whereas when you wash your hands, soap dislodges the viral cells and the running water flushes them away. One of these studies is by American Society for Microbiology in 2019 referred to in an article by The Guardian and available here

Nowadays hand sanitiser is expensive, so many prefer to use soap instead. Hand sanitiser also does not work well against all viruses, for example the norovirus. Especially when it comes to young children, washing hands is often easier, for example because of the dangers of drinking hand sanitiser: even a small amount can cause alcohol poisoning.

On the other hand, the recommendation has always been to wash your hands with soap several times a day, yet many still don’t. Now when the importance of hand hygiene is emphasised, remembering to wash your hands properly is more difficult as we have gotten so used to seeing a soap dispenser or bottle next to the sink, but seeing hand sanitiser is a “new stimulus”. To remind yourself, your family members and colleagues about using soap, try to change something to make them react to the soap bottle: make a sign or find a bottle that catches their attention.

person washing hand on sink


However, the key to washing your hands properly is the right technique. There are several important steps in washing your hands: using soap and running water, scrubbing carefully for 20 seconds – so for the duration of singing Happy Birthday twice – and then rinsing and drying your hands properly with a paper towel. We recommend reviewing the hand washing technique on the NHS website here or watching and listening to the NHS song here!

Keep in mind that you should wash your hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, before eating, after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose, as well as when putting a mask on. This is a simple way to keep both yourself and your loved ones safe.