To avoid and prevent the COVID-19 virus and its variants, one of the health protocols that the public is often reminded of is washing hands with soap. Hand washing is intended to eradicate all germs, bacteria, and viruses on your hands.

What’s more, germs and viruses can be more easily spread through hands that accidentally touch contaminated objects. In addition to washing hands, most people use hand sanitizers to kill bacteria and viruses on their hands.

The NHS and Public Health England agree that to kill most viruses, hand sanitizers used must contain at least 60% alcohol (most sanitizers contain 60-90% alcohol). It is proven that at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone flocked to buy sanitizers to prevent transmission of the corona virus.

Have the same goal, then which method is more effective in eradicating the COVID-19 virus?

Sanitizer vs Hand Wash

Sanitizer is a liquid or gel that is generally used to kill many viruses, bacteria, and microorganisms on hands. This method is more widely used by people because it is more practical and easy to carry anywhere. Even so, unfortunately, sanitizers can’t get rid of all types of germs. Certain types of germs such as Cryptosporidium and norovirus cannot be removed with sanitizers.

Reporting from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand sanitizers may not work effectively on dirty and oily hands. In addition, sanitizers also cannot remove harmful chemical metals, such as pesticides and heavy metals from hands. This is evidenced in a study, where it was reported that people who cleaned their hands with sanitizer experienced increased levels of pesticides in their bodies.

Why is Hand Washing Better?

The way sanitizers work is by destroying the outer layer of bacteria, viruses, and germs, so they can’t infect the body. However, the alcohol in the sanitizer is not effective on viruses with tough membrane skin, such as norovirus.

Using hand sanitizer too often can also cause skin irritation. This irritation is accompanied by a red rash on the skin, itching, and other symptoms of irritation. This is because alcohol makes the skin dry and flaky, making it more prone to irritation.

Meanwhile, soap works in a slightly different way. Soap removes dirt, oil, and other harmful substances on your hands. On the other hand, soap molecules can also destroy the surface membranes of bacteria and viruses. According to the CDC, hand washing is more effective because:

People often touch their faces without realizing it. Germs and viruses can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth.
Germs on unwashed hands cannot enter food and drink. Some types of germs can even multiply in food and drink that can make you sick.
Germs on unwashed hands can transfer to other objects, such as doorknobs, tables, toys, which then transfer to other people’s hands.
For this reason, washing hands with soap and running water is much more effective in removing chemicals and all types of germs, including the COVID-19 virus and its variants.

The use of hand sanitizer is only intended if there is no running water and soap available. With a note, its use must be correct and the sanitizer used contains at least 60% alcohol. The CDC doesn’t recommend using hand sanitizer if your hands are dirty or greasy, because alcohol doesn’t work effectively on dirty hands.

To avoid transmission of the COVID-19 virus, wash your hands before and after:

  • Touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Touching the mask
  • Entering and exiting public places
  • Touching surfaces that many people touch frequently, such as doorknobs, tables, shopping baskets, or money.

How to Wash Hands Correctly

Washing hands is very easy and effective to prevent the virus. Clean hands can stop the spread of germs and viruses from one person to another, so make sure to always wash your hands properly. The following is a good way to wash your hands:

Wet hands with running water, then apply hand soap
Rub the backs of your hands, fingers, and under your nails with soap for at least 20 seconds (20 seconds is the same as singing happy birthday 2 times).
Rinse hands thoroughly from soap under running water.
Dry your hands with a clean towel or tissue.
If soap and water are not available, you can use sanitizer by applying it to the palm of your hand, rubbing it evenly, and waiting for it to dry.

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