hand sanitizers, hand washing
hand sanitizers, hand washing

Is a Hand Sanitizer a Great Alternative to Soap and Water?

18 June 2021

The alcohol hand sanitizer in your hand can save a life. It can kill about the same percentage of germs as your most trusted hand soap. But is it a great alternative to soap and water?

Yes, it is.

Nobody is discounting the benefits of washing your hands. The 20-second ritual can certainly strip your palms of germs while also giving you a refreshing feeling. However, most of us are nowhere near a sink more than half the time. This is why it is good that we have the option to use an alcohol hand sanitizer. You can get rid of about the same percentage of germs and viruses while on the go.


But can the practice of using hand sanitizer completely replace handwashing?

We all know that even an alcohol hand sanitizer cannot replace handwashing completely. Take the word “completely” out of the equation, and you will get a more interesting answer. 

Handwashing is still the best way to keep healthy. When your hands are extra grimy, it is common sense to put the tap on and lather your hands with soap and rinse with water. Just the act of letting the water pour on your hand can refresh you and make you feel clean. The soap does its job by getting rid of almost 100% of germs and viruses. 

Long story short, handwashing is still the best option when trying to get rid of visible dirt. Using even the strongest alcohol hand sanitizer will be futile. It will only push around the sticky dirt all over your hands. Can you imagine pouring a generous dollop of hand sanitizer on skin streaked with mud? Yeah, you probably could, but it is obviously unpleasant. 

So, in more icky times, you cannot use hand sanitizer as an absolute replacement. It can only serve as a substitute during times of emergency. 

When does hand sanitizer become a great alternative? 

Yes, it is possible to serve as an effective substitute – but when? 

Are your hands always greasy and grimy? Of course, not. More than half the time, your hands are visibly clean. They look perfect, except for the unseen germs and viruses moving all over your skin. 

During these moments, you can employ the help of a healthy portion of hand sanitizer. The alcohol-based kind is much preferred because it usually comes with a higher efficacy rate. 

In an increasingly mobile world, people will have a hard time keeping up with the hand washing ritual required to cleanse their hands. Availability may also be an issue. In cases where there is a problem with time, place, or availability, you have your alcohol-based hand sanitizer to save the day.

Do alcohol hand sanitizers have a lot of advantages over handwashing?

While it is clear that handwashing is still king until we can find a way to make sanitizers cut through the visible dirt, the latter has a lot of touted benefits. 

  • They are less harsh than ordinary soap and water.

  • Using them will not lead to antimicrobial resistance. You can keep on using them without breaking your defenses.

  • They are quicker solutions, compared to the 20-second hand washing process.

  • They are portable germ killers, which can be kept in your pockets or bags.

  • They are less irritating than your usual soap and water combination.

  • Some are mixed with lotions to care for your skin better. 


Alcohol hand sanitizers may not always replace handwashing. However, they provide a quicker, portable way of keeping yourself free from various types of illness. They not only get rid of bacteria that can cause various illnesses, but they can also be used to battle viruses.