Soap is better at killing germs than hand sanitizer
A study at the University of Ottawa says that hand sanitizers claiming to kill 99.9% of germs actually kill much fewer in real-world conditions. Although the statement of 99.9% effectiveness may be true in lab settings, in ordinary life using soap and water is a much better alternative.The microbiologist in charge of the study, Jason Tetro, recommends using hand-sanitizing gels only as a supplement in situations where soap and water aren’t available.
The study was conducted using school children from Hamilton, Ontario. First, a sample of germs was taken from each child’s hand and swabbed with sanitizer to see which portion of bacteria remained. The scientists only looked at bacteria picked up from surroundings such as E.coli, campylobacter and salmonella and not healthy bacteria normally found on the skin. Three different hand sanitizers were tested: President’s Choice, Purrell and Soapopular. Purrell killed and average of 60.4% of bacteria on the hands, while President’s Choice killed 54.6% and Soapopular killed 46%. All three had lower elimination rates than the 99.9% efficiency advertised.
The study also looked at the effectiveness of the sanitizers against clean or dirty hands. It was found that the hand sanitizers were most effective on already clean hands, and were least effective on hands that were already dirty. This was due to the dirt on the skin preventing the alcohol from killing all of the bacteria and viruses present. The hand sanitizer only aims to kill the bacteria and doesn’t eliminate dirt and residue on the hands. On the contrary, using soap and water removes dirt and kills and removes germs, making it a much better alternative. The scientists say that the advertising on the hand sanitizing packages are misinforming as they state that the sanitizers are a great alternative for washing your hands while in reality they are only beneficial if you wash your hands with soap and use the sanitizer.
My Views of the Article:
-I think that this article in informative because it is important to know how to properly clean your hands, especially in flu seasons, as someone might use hand sanitizer with the false impression it is 99.9% effective and not wash their hands.
-We also have tons of hand sanitizing machines all over campus, which may lead students to wash their hands less because they feel as if using the hand sanitizer is a quicker and more convenient alternative.
-My thoughts kind of vary on the issue because 60% effectiveness is still killing bacteria that would still be present on your hands if sanitizer weren’t used. But if continually using sanitizers that don’t kill all bacteria leads to resistance and super-bugs, I don’t know if the risk of using them is worth it.
-My only other thought is that the conductors of the study only tested the sanitizer on the hands and not soap. I think the argument would be more compelling if they also swabbed the children’s hands with soap and compared the effectiveness percentage against those that were found for the sanitizers.