Does the type of soap or hand sanitizer matter?

Wednesday 18th March 2020 05:47 EDT

Tons of cleaning and sanitization products are selling out amid the COVID-19 outbreak, including soap, hand sanitizer, dish soap and cleaning wipes. But which of these products will best help protect you from contracting the novel coronavirus?

“Coronavirus is spread by droplets,” said an infectious disease specialist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Droplets contain virus, proteins, carbohydrates and other materials. They travel through the air, short distances less than one meter, typically, hands to other people and surfaces,” he said.

The best way to clean your hands is the old-fashioned way. A family medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic, says, for the most part, hand sanitizers play “second fiddle” to the actual act of washing your hands. You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, she said, adding that the old trick to sing your ABCs helps mark time. And, the type of soap does not matter. Since COVID-19 is a virus, antibacterial hand soap is not going to give you an advantage over other varieties.

Here's a guide on how to properly wash your hands

Of course, you might not have access to water, soap and a sink at all times. This is where hand sanitizer comes in. “Anything that has about 60% alcohol or more is probably a good product,” she said. If you do use hand sanitizer, check the back of the bottle for alcohol content. Make sure you rub the product all over the palms of both hands, as well as the backs of hands and in between fingers, so the entire surface area of both hands are covered.

Bottom line? Cleanse your hands as often as you can, with soap and water if it’s available, and alcohol-based sanitizer if it’s not. And yes. It’s very hard, but try not to touch your face.

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