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Hand sanitizer vs hand washing: which is best?

When it comes to limiting dirt, viruses and bacteria, regular hand-washing is a no-brainer. Regular hand-washing helps to keep hands clean and sanitized in order for us to go on with our day. But in a busy world, lathering up at the sink regularly can be tricky, with many of us opting for travel-sized sanitizers instead, hoping they do the job just as well. If you’re wondering how the two really compare (is hand sanitizer better than washing?) and what exactly the benefits of hand sanitizer vs hand washing are, read on. Here, we’re breaking it down in simple terms.

Hand washing: the facts

How often do you (truthfully) wash your hands? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we should be washing our hands at specific times during the day, which are different for each person. These key times usually include: before, during and after preparing food, before eating, after using the bathroom, changing diapers or touching an animal or garbage. The same goes if you’ve recently blown your nose, coughed or sneezed. Makes sense, right?

Wash like a pro

Not sure you’re doing it right? Studies show we should be scrubbing our hands for at least 20 seconds under running water (the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ two times) in order to remove dirt and germs. If you’re tempted to rush, remember this: the aim of lathering and scrubbing hands is to physically wash away germs from the skin’s surface.The friction detaches dirt and germs which are then rinsed away.

A thorough clean involves carefully scrubbing the whole hand area, including palms, backs of hands, wrists, underneath nails and between fingers. There’s no need to burn your fingers though – water temperature doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to washing away germs. Dry your hands after washing by using a clean towel, or by air drying them.

Once you’ve nailed the technique, consider the products you’re using. As well as effectively removing dirt and germs, it’s important to care for your skin too. Anyone else experienced super dry hands from too much washing?

The good news is that keeping clean doesn’t have to mean stripping or drying out skin. Take our dermatologist approved Dove Antibacterial Nourishing Foaming Hand Wash. The foaming formula eliminates 99% of bacteria on hands in seconds and provides lasting skin nourishment. It also smartly balances antibacterial performance with that all-important dryness protection.

Sensitive skin? Don’t put off washing for fear of itchy, dry or reactive skin. Our hypoallergenic Dove Deep Cleansing Hand Wash Sensitive Skin makes washing away germs on sensitive skin a piece of cake. The sulfate-free and paraben-free hand wash is made without dyes and alcohol so you can enjoy a gentle but effective wash. This hand wash with 5X Moisturizer Blend, complete with 5 skin nutrients and moisturizers makes caring for sensitive skin an effortless task.

Hand sanitizer: What you need to know

Both hand wash and hand sanitizer remove germs, but there are distinct differences. Soap and water should be used any time hands are visibly dirty or greasy and a handwashing station is available. Alcohol-based sanitizers are great for on-the-go, and should be used when hands are not visibly soiled and soap and water are not available.

A final sanitizing tip? Don’t skimp on product, and avoid applying it to soiled or greasy hands, since it may not work properly (for example, if you’ve been gardening or playing sports). Apply enough to cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Don’t rinse or wipe off the hand sanitizer. There’s no need to panic about dry hands, either – our Nourishing Dove Hand Sanitizer is not only 99.99% effective against many germs, but it provides 8 hours of moisturization, leaving skin feeling soft and smooth afterward.

The verdict

In a rush or on the go? Sanitizers are a great time-saving tool if, for example, you want to quickly sanitize your hands after touching door handles or elevator buttons or are going to grab a quick bite outdoors. At home? If you have access to a bathroom it makes sense to wash hands often (it’s also a nice opportunity to encourage your kids to follow your cleanliness lead, too). Ultimately, however you choose to keep your hands clean is your call, just be sure to choose the best products for the job at hand.

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