Is Hand Sanitizer Better Than Soap
The hand sanitizers were introduced in the markets as a substitute to the time old, soap and water hand cleansing. The unveiling of hand sanitizers has brought in its wake a massive argument, ‘which is better, hand sanitizers or soaps?’ The health columns are resplendent with researches probing the soap and hand wash debate based on issues of better germ removal, comfort and protection. Our bodies harbor a vast array of germs termed as resident microbes. Through means of contact our bodies pick other bacteria as well known as transient microbes. Ordinarily a normal human houses 10000 to 10 million microorganisms in his hands, including both transient as well as resident microbes which in case of illness can increase significantly. Besides skin other parts of our body like intestinal tract also hosts millions of microbe namely fecal micro organisms. These organisms contaminate our hands after using toilet and cleaning. Such germs when transmitted from hands to other people, food and environment etc. culminate in various kinds of diseases.
Thus a perfect hand wash becomes imperative to prevent transmission of harmful germs from hand to environment and vice versa. Soaps clean hands by lessening the surface tension. It releases the dirt, oil and soil from the skin and allows it to mix easily with water. This loosened grim is effortlessly washed away with water along with the germs harboring in the soil. Antibacterial soaps are considered more effective due to the presence of an antiseptic agent triclosan which besides removal also aids in the lessening of microbes. But its antiseptic properties are nullified if it is not used for a significant time; more than the usual 30 seconds wash. In fact very few people rub their hands with soap for the advised 30 seconds. Usually hands are rubbed for very little time and then rinsed with water which instead of cleaning makes the hands damp and more susceptible to germs. Hand sanitizer facilitate by chemically destroying the germs without wiping away the skins natural oily layer.
The water based sanitizers are considered to be less effective where as the alcohol based sanitizers, especially with the concentration between 60% and 90% are considered most potent. To make the sanitizer work effectively a coin size glob should be rubbed properly between the palms, till the alcohol dries up. Many manufacturers claim the sanitizers to kill 99.99% bacteria which though impressive sounds like a far fetched idea. The researches making such tall claims were indeed performed in controlled labs and on non living surfaces, unlike the natural condition. Other researches point the hand sanitizers to be less powerful when combating tough grease and stubborn dirt layer as alcohol does not penetrate the soil very easily where as soap lather easily cuts through. Soaps are indeed safer as well because the alcohol content of the sanitizers can leave behind a bitter taste and is also slightly inflammable.
Yet sanitizers offer great convenience as they are easy to carry and can be used anywhere from office canteen to local transport. Actually the better option between the two would depend on the usage; while on the go sanitizer is a convenient option where as for visibly soiled hands a fine cleansing with soap is a must. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and various world public health authorities hand sanitizers can be an effective alternative for soap and water as long as the hands are not apparently dirty.