Handwashing vs. Hand Sanitizer: Which is More Effective?


Handwashing vs. Hand Sanitizer: Which is More Effective?


Handwashing and using hand sanitizer have received much more attention these days as people fight to keep cold, flu, and COVID-19 away. These two products and processes have been around forever, but with all of this refocused attention, you may wonder which is more effective? The debate of handwashing vs. hand sanitizer isn’t as heated as other hot topics today, but it’s still a good discussion, and each has its pros and cons. Here’s all you need to know about handwashing vs. hand sanitizer and the best way to keep you and those around you healthy.


Difference Between Handwashing & Hand Sanitizer


Before we get into which one is most effective, it’s essential to know the main differences between them. Simply put, hand sanitizer with an alcohol base kills the germs on your hands, whereas handwashing with soap and warm water removes the germs from your hands. Hand sanitizer comes in different forms like gels and wipes. According to the CDC, both hand sanitizer gels and wipes need to contain at least 60% alcohol to kill germs off your hands. So now that we know how each one actually cleans your hands, let’s dive into the pros and cons of handwashing vs. hand sanitizer.


Pros & Cons of Hand Sanitizer


One of the biggest pros to hand sanitizer is the convenience factor. It’s something you can easily squirt and rub in your hands and then move on with your activity. Another pro to hand sanitizer is the alcohol base. The alcohol in hand sanitizers will kill nearly all germs on your hands, but make sure it has enough. Like we mentioned earlier, the only type of hand sanitizer that’s genuinely effective are those with at least 60% alcohol-base. During those times you have to rely on hand sanitizer, it’s good to know it’s very effective. There’s no doubt that hand sanitizer has its place when hand cleaning is necessary, and there isn’t a handwashing station nearby.


The CDC says hand sanitizers don’t remove all the germs that hand washing can remove, though. When you use hand sanitizer, you kill most germs off your hands, not necessarily removing them. The process of handwashing removes the germs, dirt, and grime from your hands throughout the process of scrubbing and rinsing. If you’re engaged in an exceptionally messy activity or food prep, hand sanitizer won’t be as helpful as washing your hands with soap and water. 


Although hand sanitizers can be just as effective as handwashing in certain situations, you shouldn’t use it instead of soap and water. You should still keep hand sanitizer with you for those times soap and water aren’t available options. While hand sanitizer is always a good backup plan, it will always fall second to the most effective way to clean your hands.


Pros & Cons of Handwashing


Washing your hands with soap and water is the preferred method for removing germs. A significant pro to hand washing over hand sanitizing is the knowledge that all of your germs are removed, especially chemicals and heavy metals. You never have to wonder if your hands are adequately cleaned using soap and water with the correct technique.

Hand washing also works for all situations. Whether you are finishing off your garden, preparing food, or visiting a sick family member, hand washing will always get the job done. Hand washing can be just as convenient as hand sanitizer too. These days, more facilities offer portable and outdoor sinks for handwashing to keep everyone safe and healthy.


One reason people may choose hand sanitizer over handwashing at a sink is the equipment involved. With handwashing, you have to use water, soap, and towels, but it should give you peace of mind that you’re taking care of yourself and others. With more emphasis on handwashing these days, businesses will keep essential hand washing items nearby, so you aren’t on an endless hunt for them.


The Verdict: Choose Handwashing Over Hand Sanitizer


Whenever possible, you should head for the sink to wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds instead of relying on hand sanitizer for all of your hand cleanings. Handwashing is truly the most effective way to remove all of the harmful germs and dirt from your hands. There will be situations where hand sanitizer is the only product available, and that will undoubtedly help you in desperate situations. Most every time, though, turn to an excellent old-fashioned sink for handwashing! 



If you’re concerned that the only option for your business, school, or event is hand sanitizer, we can help! All Portable Sinks offers a wide variety of portable sinks for indoor and outdoor use. We have your portable sink for nearly any kind of setup, which will help you keep everyone safe and clean. Visit our website or call us at 877-595-8534 today!