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What’s the Difference? – Hand Sanitizer vs Washing Hands

What’s the Difference? - Hand Sanitizer vs Washing Hands

Cleaning your hands is still the most highly recommended way to protect yourself and your loved ones from germs, Coronavirus, and other diseases.

And yet, hand sanitizers have gained popularity in the last few years as well. So is hand sanitizer better than washing hands?

The short answer is that using a combination of both is a great way to increase your protection against bacteria and viruses. However, experts have clearly shown a preference for one over the other.

Here is what you should know about the differences between the two, and the facts that finally settle the great “hand sanitizer vs washing hands” debate:

What are the Differences Between Handwashing and Hand Sanitizing?

Both handwashing and hand sanitizer help reduce the risk of spreading germs. However, they work quite differently in reality. Here are the main differences:

Washing Hands

Handwashing involves using water and soap to clean debris from your hands. The water and soap create a unique molecular chain that physically washes dirt and bacteria away.

In other words, the friction created by rubbing soap and water over your hands escorts bad microbes away from the surface of your hands. Furthermore, soaps are made from natural oils and fats, making them healthier for your skin.

Hand Sanitizing

Hand sanitizers are synthetic products, unlike soaps used in handwashing. Typically found in gel form, these sanitizers focus on killing microbes and bacteria instead of washing them away.

However, hand sanitizing does not destroy all germs. And sanitizers are less effective if your hands are dirty or greasy. Additionally, they may not get rid of damaging chemicals such as pesticides.

What’s Better — Handwashing or Hand Sanitizer?

It’s better to have no germs or debris on your hands at all than to risk having them there (even if the germs are mostly dead).

For that reason, the CDC suggests washing your hands often, while using hand sanitizer as a backup plan only if you cannot wash your hands.

In a perfect world, you could do both. But if you have to choose one, it’s always safer to wash your hands with soap and water.

When Should You Wash Your Hands?

You should wash your hands early and often. However, some particularly important moments to wash your hands are before, during, or after these times:

  • Using the bathroom
  • Blowing your nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Eating food
  • Preparing food
  • Caring for someone who is sick
  • Treating a wound
  • Touching a pet or other animal
  • Handling garbage

By consistently washing your hands with soap and water, you can prevent the spread of harmful germs and debris. That way you, your coworkers, and your loved ones can stay healthy.

A portable handwashing station nearby heavily trafficked areas is one way to ensure everyone has access to proper hygiene.

Installation can be fast and easy, while eliminating the need to construct an entirely new sink, kitchen, or bathroom — allowing sanitary handwashing anywhere you need it, at key times.

Occasional cleaning ensures that the portable sink remains a one-stop-shop for maintaining health and safety for everyone nearby.

Read More: How to Clean a Portable Sink: A Complete Guide

The Right Hand Washing Technique

CDC guidelines suggest that the best way to wash your hands is to follow these steps:

  1. Apply Water: Use clean water to wet your hands before using the soap.
  2. Lather the Soap: With your hands already wet, rub the soap between your hands so they are completely covered.
  3. Scrub: Be sure to scrub every part of your hands, including between your fingers. Do this for 20 seconds at least. (This is important to mechanically break bacteria away from the surface of your hands).
  4. Rinse: Apply clean water again, washing away the soap and therefore the debris from your hands by rubbing.
  5. Dry: The final step is to use a clean towel or paper towel, or air dryer to remove all excess water.

Can’t Wash Your Hands? Do This Instead

Washing your hands is the best way to remove germs according to the CDC. That’s why many events, job sites, and other occasions where groups of people gather should utilize soap and water often.

This makes a portable hand washing station in Atlanta or your local area an excellent solution that is convenient and sanitary.

But if you are in your car, or otherwise can’t access a sink or portable hand washing setup, then use sanitizer. The sanitizer should be at least 60% alcohol, which will be clearly indicated on the product label.

While washing your hands is clearly preferable to simply using hand sanitizer, it’s always good to have a second option in mind.