Scientists Say Handwashing is More Effective than Hand Sanitizers

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It is convenient and easy to bring sanitizers and disinfectants, but these are not as effective as handwashing with water and soap.

Roland Newman II, a Penn State Health family medicine physician stated that traditional handwashing is far more effective than sanitizers in keeping hands clean.

Soap Lather is the Key

Newman explained that soap scrubs off all the dirt and germ particles from the skin. This happens when the soap lather collects any gunk or dirt before it gets washed away with water.

He advised that rubbing the hands vigorously with soap for about 20 seconds under running water is the best way to do it. Doing so is about the same time you can sing the Happy Birthday song twice.

Why Sanitizers Don’t Do All the Work

Newman added that sanitizers aren’t effective in fighting some types of pathogens. Some include those that cause diarrhea and vomiting (norovirus), gastrointestinal issues (cryptosporidium), and inflammation (clostridium difficile).

Newman started that handwashing with soap and water gets rid of more germs and even chemicals. Sanitizers may not break down or remove chemicals and heavy metals as water does.

Soap is A Detergent

Alex Berezow, microbiologist Scientific Communications at the American Council on Science and Health vice president, added that sanitizers don’t completely remove germs even if they are great disinfectants.

He explained that soap is a detergent, making it bubbly as it dissolves water and oil. It works in the same way how grease is removed from plates using soap and water.

Tips for Effective Handwashing

Here are tips shared by the experts on how you can wash your hand effectively.

  1. Open the tap and wet your hands under it for a few seconds.
  2. Rub soap all over your hands. This includes your palms and the back. Create a good lather.
  3. Rub one palm over the back of your other hand. Run through your fingers at the same time. Repeat the same step for your other hand.
  4. Use the fingers of one hand and rub it in the palm of your other hand in a circular motion. Repeat the same step for your other hand.
  5. Rinse your hands with water and soap.
  6. Dry your hands. You can use a paper towel. Also, use it to turn the tap off.

Wash your hands regularly especially after using the toilet and before touching food. Wash them on any occasion that gets them dirty.

Handwashing is a good practice that can keep you safe against diseases and infections that can linger in your body if you don’t remove them from your skin surface.

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