Hand sanitizing is important to prevent contracting infectious diseases. These include the flu and colds among many others. Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that about 90% of communicable diseases are transferred through the hands. We may unknowingly touch surfaces that contain microbes and then get ourselves infected by touching our noses, mouths, and eyes.
This brings us to an important question. Which is more effective in preventing flu? Soap and water or hand sanitizers?
Which works better in keeping the flu away?
If all external factors are held constant and you would wash your hands as often as you apply hand sanitizers, soap and water would still emerge as the winner. WHO says that washing with soap is still the most effective way to deal with microbes. It deals with both visible dirt and microbes that cannot be seen by the naked eye.
However, several research projects from universities and medical institutions note one key difference that makes hand sanitizers better in preventing flu. In the real-world setting, you don't always have an accessible sink and hand soap. Constant use of sanitizers can protect your for more hours within the day.
A Case Study on Toddlers
Toddlers are very active and they play everywhere, touching various surfaces that may have flu viruses. In a couple of isolated studies, experts compared two groups of parents. One group solely used soap and water to disinfect the hands of their children. The other used hand sanitizers as frequently as possible for their kids.
The results indicate that fewer children in the hand sanitizer group contracted the flu. The frequency of usage made the difference. Because of the toddlers’ level of activities, they have already touched a lot of dirt and infectious surfaces before they are able to access the next hand-washing station. As for the other group, hand sanitizers are readily available in their parents’ pockets.
Conditions for 99.99% Protection
It’s not enough that you apply hand sanitizer. You need to take your time in rubbing your hands. Cover every surface including the back of your hands, wrists, and finger nails. Remove jewelry and accessories whenever possible.
Also, you should buy alcohol-based cleansers instead of water or oil-based ones. The latter just add fragrance and make your hands seem clean but they do not kill germs. Sanitizers that are at least 70% alcohol can effectively kill almost 100% of viruses and bacteria on our hands. Lower concentrations of alcohol will not be as effective and can put you at risk.
Washing your hands with soap can remove almost 100% of microbes from your hands, and it is scientifically proven to be more effective per instance of doing it. However, hand sanitizers have the edge of being mobile. You can bring a small bottle of it virtually anywhere, making it accessible and more effective in terms of frequency of usage. It can protect you anywhere and around the clock.
Ultimately, you can protect yourself better from flu by combining these two ways of hand disinfection. Hand sanitizers should be used as frequently as possible when you are at work or outdoors. Use the sink to wash your hands with soap whenever you get the opportunity.