English (Honk KOng)Hong Kong S.A.R of China

27 May 2020

Soap wash v sanitizer: avoiding COVID-19


Soap wash vs sanitizer: it’s a common question, and only more common due to the current global pandemic. Sales and use of hand sanitizer have increased dramatically as a result of coronavirus, with many people considering it a vital part fight against COVID-19.


What is hand sanitizer?

Hand sanitizer is broadly ‘A liquid or gel used to disinfect or sanitize the hands.’ With increasing public use, the range of ingredients, forms, smells, added benefits, etc. has increased, but in order to provide the best protection against germs, a product should contain over 60% alcohol. It is unclear exactly where and when hand sanitizer was invented, but the use of alcohol as a disinfectant goes back centuries. However, there are limits to what alcohol can protect against.


Soap wash vs sanitizer?

Many of us are taught from a young age to wash our hands, but how often, for how long and why might not be included in that education and certainly not with a consistent message, with obviously negative results. One 2014 study found that only 19% of the world’s population wash their hands after going to the toilet, and many other studies have found significant variations between countries, age groups, and genders.

So with a major focus from governments on the importance of hygiene in stopping the spread of COVID-19, what should we all be doing for the best? The World Health Organization has the following answer for protecting against infection:

  • Clean your hands regularly.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, and dry them thoroughly.
  • Use alcohol-based hand rub if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water.

You should wash your hands for 20 seconds (or as long as it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice) and only use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when handwashing is not possible.

There are a number of reasons why handwashing with soap is preferable to using hand sanitizer:

  1. Many hand sanitizers do not contain the required 60%-plus alcohol content.
  2. Even with the required percentage, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are only effective in attacking certain bacteria and viruses.
  3. Handwashing involves a mechanical action that helps loosen and dislodge germs from your hands, with thorough rinsing helping to wash them away down the drain.
  4. Drying your hands completely after washing them makes skin less hospitable to bacteria and viruses.

A couple of other points to note are that water temperature doesn’t matter when handwashing and the soap does not need to be antibacterial.


Stopping the spread

With countries in lockdown and governments trying to manage the outbreak, we are starting to see a decrease in the number of cases of COVID-19 infections and deaths. However, there is a long way to go in this fight and we all need to do our bit to help suppress this virus if we are to protect each other and recover as quickly and as safely as possible. 

NCH Asia Pacific offers a range of hand sanitization and soap products to help protect against COVID-19. This includes our Swoop hand soap product. This concentrated liquid quickly dissolves and cleans dirt and grime away, while conditioning skin with lanolin.

Stay safe and contact NCH Asia Pacific for further advice on the best cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing practices and products for your industry. Or, watch our soap wash v sanitizer video below.