Hand Sanitizer vs. Hand Washing: Which Is Really Better?

Does your hand sanitizer pass the test?

You’re at a concert or at the zoo with your kids. You need to wash your hands. There is no water around, so you reach for a bottle of hand sanitizer. But how effective is hand sanitizer compared to washing your hands with soap and water?

Proper hand washing is best, but when soap and water aren’t available hand sanitizers can be a substitute. But remember these important tips:

  1. Always use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. H
  2. and sanitizers are not effective if your hands are visibly dirty.
  3. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. For example, a 2011 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that hand sanitizer doesn’t reduce the spread of some viruses such as the Norovirus.

Bottom line: Hand sanitizer can substitute for soap and water if it’s not available. But if you have the choice, opt for soap and water.

Food & Nutrition Magazine
Food & Nutrition Magazine publishes articles on food and diet trends, highlights of nutrition research and resources, updates on public health issues and policy initiatives related to nutrition, and explorations of the cultural and social factors that shape Americans’ diets and health.