Cartoon images of a bar of soap and a bottle of hand sanitizer with text "Soap vs Sanitizer"

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s not surprising that many people are taking extra precautions to stay safe, including stocking up on sanitizing sprays, gels, and soaps. But are hand sanitizers or soap the best defense against bacteria and viruses like coronavirus and influenza?

The CDC describes both soap and hand sanitizers as helpful in preventing the spread of the coronavirus. But is one more effective than the other?

Soap and Water
Health experts have emphasized that the best way to prevent the spread of germs is frequent handwashing. The CDC recommends people wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Any soap is fine, and it doesn’t matter if the water is hot or cold.

Hand Sanitizers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizers are a convenient, on-the-go method of cleaning hands. The only problem is, hand sanitizers may not be as effective as washing hands. The CDC also says for hand sanitizers to be effective it must be used correctly. By using the proper amount according to the manufacture label, and rubbing it all over the surfaces of hands until they are dry. The CDC recommends a sanitizer that is 60% alcohol, so beware of sanitizers or wipes on the market that do not meet this standard.

The CDC suggests using a 60% based alcohol sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Sanitizers are the next best option to good old fashion handwashing with soap for combating viruses. Remember, when the store shelves are barren of hand sanitizers, soap is still available. Soap wins the debate hands down.

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