Water and Soap? OR Hand Sanitizer?

September 2, 2006

886178993.jpgThe skin is the largest organ of the body.  But is also the largest carrier of bacteria. As often as it is advised… we seldom follow the simple rules of handwashing to prevent diseases. After a cough or a sneeze, the bacteria and viruses can hang around ones hands for long enough to spread from one person to another until the whole family gets the colds.

Even doctors are guilty of not washing their hands… only 50 to 60 % of physicians wash hands after handling a patient. I usually have an alcohol gel sanitizer beside me which I use every after I examine a patient. It’s a medical practice and habit that I inherited during my training at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesotta. Again its the practice and habit of doing things the right way that counts.

But How Effective is Handwashing? Does It Really Work?

  • 30 seconds with soap & water removes 58% of bacteria
  • Alcohol based handrubs: removes 83% of bacteria

742896925.jpgThe Best Healthy Practice of Handwashing is to wet both hands with water then apply soap…rub both hands together briskly for 15 seconds before rinsing! Handrubbing which is practiced more in hospitals however has been shown to remove more bacteria than handwashing.

For your convenience when working… I recommend using alcohol based gel for cleaning your hands. However handwashing remains the least expensive and still an effective method of keeping yourself clean. 

This will be the first of a series of Healthy Practice Tips that I’ll be writing. As simple as handwashing but more often being neglected by the many of us!

Keep CLEAN… Practice The Proper Handwashing!

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4 Responses to “Water and Soap? OR Hand Sanitizer?”

  1. maxim Says:

    Yes this is a very helpful tip. In my case, after a days work in the hospital or from the field, I make sure to wash my hands before I hug my kids (although it’s very tempting to hug them right away to express one’s feeling).

  2. jacqueline Says:

    when i read the blog, i smiled.. know y? because ever since i usually use alcohol when washing my hands because i dont trust water and soap… i feel that there are still dirt… i dont have any readings bout it until this blog came.. thanks doc gerry.

  3. Genevieve Says:

    There are times when washing area isn’t available so I simply use sanitizer, is this ok? This happens say, in a coffee shop, after paying my bill and before eating…

  4. Doc Gerry Says:

    yup Gen, using the sanitizer instead of soap and water should be okay for everyday use.


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