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COVID-19 : Hand Sanitiser or Soap? Which Is Better?

Wuhan Coronavirus : Hand Sanitiser or Soap? Which Is Better?

Which should you use to keep your hands clean of the COVID-19 coronavirus – a hand sanitiser or just soap and water?

Find out which works better against COVID-19 and other nasty microbes – the convenient hand sanitiser, or good old soap and water!


Hand Sanitiser vs Soap : A Quick Summary

Here is a quick summary for those who just want to know what they should use :

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Here is a quick pictorial guide, courtesy of Quill.


Why Soap Is Better Than A Hand Sanitiser

Reason #1 : Soap Cleans Your Hands!

A hand sanitiser may kill germs, but soap removes bacteria and viruses, as well as dirt and grease, from your hands.

Soap also removes harmful chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals that you may have accidentally (and unknowingly) touched.

Reason #2 : Soap Removes Microbes That Hand Sanitisers Cannot Kill!

An alcohol-based hand sanitiser can quickly kill most germs on your hands, but there are certain microbes like Cryptosporidium, novovirus, and Clostridium difficile that it cannot effectively eliminate.

Washing your hands with soap and water is the only way to effectively get rid of those microbes.

This is why doctors and nurses wash their hands with soap and water instead of using a hand sanitiser, before performing surgeries.

Reason #3 : Hand Sanitisers Don’t Work Well On Dirty / Greasy Hands

Hand sanitisers work well in clinical settings like in a hospital, where your hands may come into contact with germs but are otherwise not dirty or greasy.

Their antimicrobial performance, however, is greatly reduced when used on dirty or greasy hands. That is why it is recommended that you wash your hands with soap where possible.

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Bar Soap vs Liquid Soap : Which Is Better?

Using liquid soap is more hygienic because it is served from a sterile container. A bar soap, on the other hand, will harbour germs from previous users.

Of course, the germs from bar soap gets washed away with the germs on your hands, when you rinse your hands with water. So, using a bar soap is better than not using soap at all. But where possible, use liquid soap.

More importantly, learn how to properly wash your hands using this pictorial guide!


Hand Sanitiser : Still Useful Though!

Now, this doesn’t mean that hand sanitisers are useless. Where soap and water are not readily available, or convenient to use, a hand sanitiser will quickly kill microbes on your hands.

Just make sure you follow this guide, and thoroughly rub the hand sanitiser all over your hands until the gel or alcohol dries up.


Hand Sanitiser : Alcohol Or Alcohol-FREE?

For a hand sanitiser to be effective at killing a significant amount of microbes, it needs to have an alcohol content of 60% to 95%.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), recommend using alcohol-based hand sanitisers over any other type of hand sanitiser.

This is partly because non-alcohol hand sanitisers use an antibiotic like Triclosan or Triclocarban, which not only exacerbate antibiotic resistance, but may also cause health problems with long-term use.

It is true that alcohol-based hand sanitiser can dry out your hands. But many alcohol-based hand sanitisers now include moisturisers to prevent that. Here are some options you can buy online :



United States

United Kingdom


If you are concerned about dry skin, just apply some moisturiser after rubbing the alcohol-based hand sanitiser dry on your hands.


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