Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Which is better, soap or sanitizer?

During the AH1N1 outbreak, we would always see on TV ads health professionals advising people to frequently wash our hands at the same time doing a demo the right way of hand washing to prevent the spread of germs.

Which works better, is it soap or sanitizer? While alcohol based gels removes more germs, plain soap and water are fine for everyday washing according to our health experts. But neither works unless we do it right. With soap it takes 15 seconds of lathering to reduce bacterial count by 90%, 30 seconds to get 99.9%. Also health experts advised to dry our hands for at least 20 seconds with a towel. With our wet hands germs are more likely to spread compared to dry ones. With sanitizers, studies shown that most people don't use enough. We need to cover all surfaces of our hands - the tops, between fingers and the palms.

Gel sanitizers will evaporate into the skin and kill bacteria, but soap and water washes away more germs according to one of our health experts.

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