They were designed as a “stop gap” measure
Hand sanitisers were never meant to replace soap and water hand washing. They clearly have a use as part of an infection control strategy, but “there are germs and bacteria that are removed faster by soap and water” according to a recent report on The List website.
Soap and water was never intended to be replaced by the instant alternative writes David Adetayo.
“Ultimately, washing your hands may not always be an option, but if there is access to soap and clean water, hand washing is better than using hand sanitizer.”
The article also refers to an earlier report in Chemical & Engineering News What is hand sanitizer, and does it keep your hands germ-free? where author Laura Howes quotes Professor Pall Thordarson of the University of New South Wales. He revealed, not surprisingly, that a soap and water hand wash is more effective when it comes to infection control.
How a soap and water wash works
Soap molecules, he advises, disrupt noncovalent interactions that hold viruses and bacterial cell walls together – and have the added advantage of being able to “surround and help detach microbes from the skin.”
“Hand sanitizers can’t remove microbes from the skin and aren’t effective against all germs.”
Another disadvantage of gels is that they don’t work as well when hands are visibly soiled, according to both the reports outlined.
In fact, Professor Thordarson’s summary makes the point extremely well:
“Alcohol-based products work… but nothing beats soap.”
What is hand sanitizer, and does it keep your hands germ-free? »
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