Hand sanitizer vs hand washing fact sheet

Hand sanitizer vs. hand washing fact sheet seems to be the order of the day ever since the recent outbreak of the global pandemic. Now that a more compelling reason has been thrust upon us, everybody is washing their hands and talking about which method works best: hand sanitizer, or the more traditional hand washing method.

Hands are the one part of our body that comes in contact with people and other items more than it does our own body. We tend to touch our face and parts of our body mindlessly daily. We shake hands with people, hug, touch handrails, doorknobs, and elevator buttons.

Often, unsanitized objects go in our mouths, both knowingly and unknowingly. We eat food without washing our hands, and we gnaw on the top of a pencil, the list is endless. 

It is even quite difficult for most people to adhere to the handwashing and hands-away-from face habit that is being ingrained into us due to the pandemic.

Suggestions as to the easiest and most effective way to keep our hands clean are springing on all sides. Are soap and water effective? Should we stick to the more mini hand sanitizers, and if yes, which is better? Alcohol-based sanitizers or non-alcohol based sanitizers?

Well, let’s see if we can put an end to this debate once and for all. Read below for our compilation of the best hand sanitizer and hand washing facts. 

Hand Sanitizers 


Close up young man outdoors applying sanitizer to his hands

Hand sanitizers are cleansing solutions in liquid, foam, or gel form used to combat or decrease bacteria and other contaminants on the hands. Hand sanitizers are alcohol-based or non-alcohol based.

  • Before popular myth, hand sanitizers do not create super-bacteria that is resistant to bacteria as they contain alcohol, an effective germ killer. Till today, no evidence exists proving that bacteria are resistant to ethanol. Don’t listen to the old wives’ tale.


  • Hand sanitizers are ineffective if they do not contain at least 60% of alcohol according to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.


  • Hand sanitizers are safe for infants to use as long as it’s a reasonable amount. Though babies and young children have delicate skin, they are not at risk of an excellent pea-sized sanitizer.


  • Hand sanitizers reduce the transmission of gastrointestinal diseases and flu. They have enough capacity to neutralize large amounts of germs on your hands.


  • The strength of hand sanitizers is in those unseen germs that remain after hand washing. But according to several studies conducted by the Centers for disease control, alcohol-based sanitizers cannot eliminate some bacteria like cryptosporidium, norovirus, and clostridium difficle compared to regular soap and water. 


  • As opposed to common opinion, hand sanitizers are not harmful to the skin. Hand sanitizers are gentler on skin compare to soap and water, according to experts. They also restore moisture to the surface.


  • Hand sanitizers are great alternatives to deodorant due to their alcohol content, which helps to kill odor-causing bacteria under the arm. Alcohol dries up quickly, and the smell also dissipates. Avoid triggering an irritation by not using this method all the time.

Here is one of the best alcohol hand sanitizers you can find.

If you have problems with dry cracking hands you might like to try this alcohol-free hand sanitizer.

Hand washing


Hand washing image

Wash your hands when it looks dirty and when it doesn’t. This helps a great deal in reducing the spread of common illnesses such as flu and more severe ones such as gastrointestinal infections, influenza, respiratory infections, salmonella, etc.

Some of these illnesses triggered by bacterial infections are known to cause severe complications for those with a weakened immune system, young children, and the elderly. 

  • Increasing the amount of time spent on washing your hands results in a 10x reduction in skin bacteria.


  • Hand washing is effective in reducing diarrhea-related deaths. Are you probably thinking of diarrhea? In this day and age? Actual statistics give that in developing countries, diarrhea is the second most common cause of children dying. Five hundred twenty-five thousand children are lost due to diarrhea, with 1.7 billion cases of diarrhoeal disease every year. Need some more convincing? Keep reading. 


  • It doesn’t matter the temperature of the water you are using. Hot or cold, work up a lather and rub those hands together!


  • Over 80% of infectious diseases in the world today are transmitted by touch. Your hands need to be clean. Thorough hand washing decrease viral counts to the point that is below what can be called infectious. 


  •   Averagely, health care providers wash their hands less than half of the time they should. According to M Health Lab report which researched hand hygiene of worldwide hospitals, less than 40% of health care workers comply with recommended hygiene methods.


  • Hands and fingernails harbor the most microorganisms.


  • Antimicrobial soaps for handwashing have more resistance against nonlipophilic viruses, protozoan oocysts, and anti-bacterial spores.


  • Hand washing eliminates “Transient Flora,” a dangerous outer layer of bacteria found on the hands.


Whether you choose to use hand sanitizers or handwashing to maintain hand hygiene this period and in the future, bacteria are virtually everywhere, meaning you’ll get exposed without a doubt. But avoiding them, especially those that can make you ill, is worth the effort.

Daily we touch a lot of things with our hands, so keeping good hand cleansing habits helps to reduce the likelihood of contracting cases of flu and viruses. 


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