Here at Heyland & Whittle we may be a bit biased towards soap - after all, we’ve been making handmade cold-pressed Soaps for decades - but we’re not about to tell you to ditch the sanitiser. There’s a time and a place for both of these products in the fight against coronavirus, so make sure you’re well versed in when to use soap or sanitiser.
Hand washing helps prevent the spread of coronavirus
In an article for the Guardian, Pall Thordarson, professor of chemistry at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, addressed the issue of soap versus hand sanitiser. He said: “Viruses can be active outside the body for hours, even days. Disinfectants, liquids, wipes, gels and creams containing alcohol are all useful at getting rid of them – but they are not quite as good as normal soap.”
COVID-19 is easily spread from surfaces to hands and then to the face, and scientists have found we touch our faces every two to five minutes. It’s therefore important to cut down the chances of becoming infected by washing hands regularly. Water alone is not strong enough to detach a virus from the skin, so soap is required.
The science bit
Mr Thordarson explained that viruses are made up of three things: ribonucleic acid (RNA), proteins and lipids. It is the lipid bilayer that is the weakest part of the nanoparticle and soap is able to dissolve it. Once that has happened the virus falls apart and becomes detached from the skin.
Photo credit: Pixabay/Renate Köppel
Soap washes away germs
We’ve all been using soap to wash our hands for years and may have been under the misconception that it kills germs. This isn’t the case - it simply washes them away down the plughole, where they can’t do any harm. In a recent article for Insider, Rachel MacPherson interviewed Alex Berezow, microbiologist and vice president of scientific communications at the American Council on Science and Health.
He said: "Soap is a detergent, which is why it gets all sudsy and bubbly. Detergents work by dissolving both water and oil, so it simply washes the microbes off your hands like it would wash the grease off a dinner plate."
Hand sanitiser kills germs
The alcohol in hand sanitiser kills some microbes, reducing your chances of getting a virus, such as COVID-19, but it does not take them away from your hands. It is a useful way of helping to protect yourself when soap and water are not readily available.
Mr Berezow told Insider: "People generally don't use enough volume of hand sanitiser or spread it around their hands as far as they should." This highlights the importance of following guidance, such as including the wrists when applying hand sanitiser.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Kelly Sikkema
A two-pronged approach
Tackling coronavirus with a combination of soap and water, and hand sanitiser is the most effective approach. Mr Berezow summarised this by saying: “The microbes alcohol-based sanitisers cannot kill will be washed away with proper handwashing.” So be sure to use your sanitiser when you’re out and about, then wash your hands as soon as you get home. And be sure to wash them for at least 20 seconds to rid your hands of the virus thoroughly.
A little goes a long way
For hand sanitiser to be effective, you must completely cover every bit of skin on your hands in the substance. A small amount of soap lathers up well to cover your hands easily, meaning just a little bit goes a long way. So, you’ll find that a 45-gram Mini Favour Soap will last a long time, even with increased hand washing practices.