I know we’ve been hearing this a lot lately. “Wash your hands!” You’ve probably seen all the news coverage about how important it is to wash your hands for “20 seconds”, and other ways to protect yourself against germs and viruses. Of course, hand hygiene has always been important, but especially now in the wake of the current coronavirus, or covid-19 pandemic of 2020.
I’m going to be discussing the benefits of hand sanitizer and handwashing and when it’s best to use either option. They both have the benefit of keeping us, and others, healthy by preventing the spread of viruses and harmful bacteria. We all know this by now. But what are the benefits of hand sanitizer and hand soap specifically?
Hand sanitizer, like soap and water, does kill viruses and bacteria. It can also be used without water, so it does have the benefit of being portable, so you don’t need to find a bathroom in public. Hand sanitizer is also more convenient because it only takes a few seconds and you don’t need to use a towel to dry your hands. Of course, it also saves water because you don’t need to rinse it off.
Soap and water does help your hands feel cleaner. It rinses off. Even though it takes longer than using hand sanitizer, you’re likely to be more thorough with hand soap and water. To cut down on water use: wet your hands, turn off your tap, use your soap and lather, then turn your tap back on to rinse.
Soap and water is your better option if you’re at home because, of course, you have easy access to a bathroom and it washes the bacteria and viruses off of your hands.
* Bacteria and viruses are killed with hand sanitizer, but they still aren’t washed off. This isn’t to say don’t use hand sanitizer, if you need to. Just wash with soap and water when you can (you probably would anyways).*
Just a little head’s up about washing your hands in a public bathroom. Try to avoid using an air dryer if you can because, and this may sound counterintuitive, but they actually trap and blow viruses and bacteria out. You’d be better off using a paper towel (you could also use it to open the door) or using hand sanitizer.
Both can be very drying on your hands, so try to find a moisturizing hand soap or sanitizer and remember to not only wash your hands, but remember to keep them moisturized.
Social distancing and staying home are best right now, but if you need to go out for groceries or work, hand hygiene will be especially important. We all need to do our part to keep each other safe and healthy.
On a personal note I always kept my hands clean anyways, but I’m especially careful now. I wouldn’t have used the cart handle wipes or hand sanitizer available at the front of the grocery stores before, but I do now. Not only to protect myself, but everybody else too. Especially the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Of course I do stay home unless I really need to go out.
There is a list available pointing out the best hand sanitizers of 2020, and you should always strive to find a regular source of hand sanitizer in these trying times. You never know which types of bacteria you will be protecting against, but it is nice to know you’re being diligent in your efforts to stay protected. Stay safe and healthy!