Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Should you wash your hands with soap or sanitizer gel?

Regularly washing your hands is crucial to avoid becoming infected with Covid-19. The virus can be transmitted by the things you touch.

Coronavirus: Should you wash your hands with soap or sanitizer gel?

Spain's government plan to extend the national state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic until 11 April, a move which is expected to come into force in the next few hours. In the meantime, society in general must take preventative measures to stop themselves from becoming infected and ensuring that the Covid-19 virus doesn't continue to spread.

Wash hands to stop coronavirus from spreading

Apart from self-isolation, one of the key practices to stop infection is to regularly wash your hands.  Droplets of the virus caught on the hands can be ingested if the face is touched by infected hands. The Covid-19 virus can remain stable for a long time on hard, impermeable surfaces - metal, plastic... etc. which means that droplets could be present on coins, door handles, cash machine keyboards and so on. If you do go out of the house, ALWAYS WASH YOUR HANDS as soon as you return home and preferably, clean the door handles in your own house after you have touched them.

Coronavirus droplets are so small that they cannot be seen. Washing your hands will get rid of any droplets on the virus that you might have picked up unwittingly while outside by touching surfaces infected by the microorganisms. When you wash your hands, you can use standard soap, sanitizer, disinfectant gel or any kind of antiseptic soap. If you do not have any of those items at home, high content alcohol - white spirits such as vodka, gin or rum, or turpentine are an alternative. 

Which is the best?

All of the above are acceptable methods to disinfect the skin but the Health Ministry has recommended washing hands with hot water and soap "when the hands are dirty" or use sanitizer/ disinfectant "when the hands might be contaminated by microorganisms which are invisible to human sight". Gel is more effective at eliminating bacteria than conventional soap

So in terms of completely disinfecting hands, sanitizer or disinfectant works better than soap. To make sure hands are thoroughly clean, it is advised to wash for at least 15 seconds

When and how often do we need to wash our hands?

Hands must be clean and disinfected whenever you are in contact with another person. Better still, if you have to go out of the house for any reason, wear gloves and remove them once you are back inside. It is also a good habit not to touch your face, and in particular, your mouth as the virus can enter the body through the nose and mouth. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the use of antiseptic liquids when their is the possibility of contact with a patient who might be infected with Covid-19.