Head-to-Head: Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer vs. Hand Soap

Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer

Because it might take years for the entire population to be vaccinated from COVID-19, it’s worth taking extra precautions to keep your workforce protected as everything unfolds over time. For some businesses, this may include having hand sanitizer stations in and around the office, in order to compliment the hand soap available in all the bathrooms. 

While both are effective in combating the spread of general bacteria and viruses, just like many other business owners in the country, you might be wondering which one you should be investing in more. Today, we’ll take a look at which is more hygienic, cost-effective, and which is the safer choice when it comes to keeping everyone safe before they are called up for their COVID-19 vaccine. 


The More Hygenic Choice

If a hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol, it’s considered a good choice of disinfectant. Hand sanitiser gel or hand sanitiser liquid at these concentrations will both get the job done. That said, there are limits to how well hand sanitizer can disinfect, which is why many businesses are opting for higher alcohol content options for their teams When doing so on a prolonged basis, the user risks drying out their skin (something that can be avoided with the right hand lotion), which can also lead to other complications. Viruses are more resistant to disinfectant than bacteria, and because they are easily transferred from hand to eyes, ears, nose or the mouth, it’s important to have a practical way to combat them. This is where hand soap comes in and takes the cake as the most hygienic option.

Hand soap and water works wonders in terms of getting rid of germs, especially when running water is used, for at least twenty seconds. The soap tackles the surface membranes of some bacteria and viruses, which makes it easier for them to be washed away by gentle scrubbing. The key is to encourage the team to wash their hands for at least twenty seconds for the best results. An easy way to do so is to tell them to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice in their heads each time they wash their hands. 


The Most Cost-Effective Choice

If we were having a discussion about whether hand soap was more expensive than alcohol-based hand sanitiser before the pandemic struck, their prices may have been slightly more competitive. The increased demand caused by COVID-19 meant that hand-sanitizer prices skyrocketed overnight, with some suppliers even having to be reprimanded by the state for their exorbitant, unregulated price changes that hit desperate consumers hard. 

Although hand sanitizer is an essential to travel with as the pandemic runs its course, hand soap is always going to be a staple in homes and offices around the country, and will always be priced more affordably in order to be accessible to the mass market. The good news is that Bidvest Steiner actually has affordable options for both. Our pink or white hand soap are essentials for businesses around the country, mostly because they are so affordable and because they can be bought in 1L, 5L or even 25L variations. Our hand sanitizers are sold at competitive market prices, in order to give customers the option to get their hands on both at all times. 


Washing hands with hand soap.


The Better Bet When It Comes To Preventing COVID-19

COVID-19 is here to stay for the time being. When it comes to getting access to vaccines a large share of the population may all be in for a wait. This means that it is still just as important as it was during lockdown to do whatever possible to help prevent the spread of the disease. When it comes to whether alcohol-based hand sanitizer or hand soap are a better choice for this, it’s possible to make a strong argument for both. Though tempting to draw definitive conclusions, research is still fairly limited (especially with regards to all the new variants of the virus), and until more data is available it won’t be possible to argue more heavily for one over the other. 

That said, both alcohol-based hand sanitizer and hand soap do a great job when it comes to preventing the spread of the disease. Because coronavirus is an envelope virus, alcohol is effective in attacking it. That means that hand sanitizer with an alcohol content of 60% or more acts as a decent preventative measure. The key to its effectiveness is when to use the sanitiser, which should always be applied after touching a public surface or coming into contact with another person. Regular and thorough hand washing with soap will achieve the same so it gets the same amount of kudos, granted that it is easier to pull hand sanitizer out from your pocket or bag, than it is to try and find a bathroom everywhere you go during the course of the day.


Whatever Your Choose, Start With Your Hands

If we were keeping score, it might look like hand soap comes out on top in this battle. In reality, both are effective disinfectants, and both have one important thing in common: the hands. When it comes to keeping the office sanitized and the team fighting fit, the key is to encourage good hand health whenever possible. Many viruses get into the body from surface contact that could have been avoided with a thorough hand wash, or by applying alcohol-based hand sanitizer on a regular basis.

Starting with educating the team about hand health. Encouraging them to wash thoroughly with hand soap a few times a day, and to have hand sanitizer with them wherever they go. Set up sanitizing stations with information in and around the office. This will not only lead to a healthier workforce in the long run, but will send a strong message about the way that management cares about the wellbeing of its employees. The results may be surprising, and will help make an unpredictable time in world history just a little bit easier for everyone to cope with.

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