As you know, you’re surrounded by microorganisms every day. Therefore, washing your hands properly with soap and water or using a hands gel is one of the most important steps that you can take to protect yourself against diseases and prevent spreading them to those around you.
But do you know the main differences between washing your hands with soap and water and cleaning them with hand sanitiser? Believe it or not, soap and water are more effective at removing certain types of germs than hand sanitisers. However, alcohol-based hand sanitisers can effectively kill many types of microbes when used correctly. Often, not enough product is used, or it is wiped off before it dries.
Washing your hands prevents infectious respiratory diseases caused by bacteria or viruses, such as COVID-19 or the flu, and gastrointestinal diseases, such as diarrhoea. Knowing when to wash your hands and which method to use will help you prevent diseases.
• Before and after visiting a friend or family member in hospital or a care home, unless the person in question is ill with Clostridium difficile (washing your hands with soap and water will suffice).
• If there is no soap and water available, use alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.
* Do NOT use hand sanitiser if your
hands are visible dirty or greasy: for example, after playing outside,
gardening, or after fishing or camping (unless there is no option to wash your
Use an alcohol-based hands gel sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Supervise small children when using hand sanitiser and ensure that it is kept out of the reach of children, especially in schools and nurseries.
• Apply enough product to the hands to cover all parts.
• Rub your hands together until they feel dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
Note: Do not rinse or wipe your hands until the hand sanitiser is dry, or it might not work against germs.
Alcohol-based hands gel can be useful when you are away from home, and whenever hands are visibly dirty. In general, washing with soap and water at home is recommended, as it removes microorganisms and dirt, and is kinder to your skin.