Soap vs hand sanitiser
We all know that by keeping our hands clean, we can stop the spread of coronavirus and other viruses. But do hand sanitisers actually work?
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), although hand sanitisers can reduce microbes on the skin, they are unable to eliminate all types of germs: this is largely due to the way the product is applied and the conditions in which it is applied. After carrying out numerous studies the CDC advise that washing your hands with soap and water is a far more effective way of killing germs. In addition, the NHS state that washing your hands with soap and water is the easiest way to protect yourself from viruses, including coronavirus.
That said, when it isn't possible to wash your hands with soap and water, you must use a hand sanitiser to help protect yourself and others. Choose a sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol, as lower percentages of alcohol may not be very effective at killing germs and may only reduce the growth of germs on your hands. It's also important to apply hand sanitiser correctly for effective results; the CDC recommends applying sanitiser to one hand (using the manufacturer's recommended amount) and then rub in over the surface of your hands until they are completely dry.
Why is sanitiser so drying?
Hand sanitiser is made with isopropyl alcohols, ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, and various other chemicals that are difficult to pronounce. All of these chemicals can have a very drying effect on the skin and, according to this report, prolonged use of sanitisers containing these chemicals can lead to cracked, bleeding hands, contact dermatitis, and even permanent skin damage.
Is sanitiser safe?
Ethanol-based hand sanitisers are toxic when ingested - even a couple of mouthfuls may cause alcohol poisoning and could even be fatal. Children are especially at risk of poisoning from sanitisers so always store hand sanitiser out of the reach of children, and make sure it's always used under adult supervision. Frighteningly, 85,000 calls were taken by US poison control centres from 2011-2015 about children exposed to hand sanitisers.
According to the HSE (Health & Safety Executive):
Biocidal products, such as hand sanitisers and surface disinfectants, are beginning to be regulated in the UK under the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) to make sure that when they are used properly, they do not harm people, pets or the wider environment.
Ethanol, which is in many sanitising products, is still under review by the HSE however they state that products containing ethanol may continue to be used.
Hand sanitiser gets a pretty bad rap when it comes to the environment too. Studies have shown that when toxic chemicals found in sanitiser are spilt onto soil, the ground can become infiltrated, leading to groundwater contamination. This could have serious adverse effects on aquatic life, microbes, and invertebrate.
Wash your hands with soap!
So, the evidence suggests that washing your hands with a humble bar of soap and water is a far more effective way of keeping germs and viruses at bay. The NHS recommends washing your hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds - the time it takes to sing 'happy birthday' twice over!
Using a quality hand soap will care for your hands and skin too - handmade soap is made with luxurious oils that nourish and keep skin hydrated. What's more, natural soap made with essential oils that have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties can also help to keep germs at bay: rosemary, tea tree, peppermint, lavender, cedarwood, lemongrass, and cedarwood are some of the best essential oils that hold antimicrobial properties.
You'll find rosemary, peppermint, and lemongrass essential oils in our Herb Garden Scrub natural soap, and lots of skin-loving oils and shea butter to ensure your hands won't dry out. Our Nettle & Tea Tree natural soap is made with tea tree, peppermint, and rosemary essential oils, and of course let's not forget Lavender Soothie, made with lavender and cedarwood essential oils.
Do you prefer to use soap and water or sanitiser to protect yourself and others from germs and viruses?