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As Seen On GMA: Hand Sanitizer vs Soap: Which works best in Hand Washing?

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I must confess that I'm a Good Morning America junkie but I saw this today thought it was pretty interesting, especially considering the current flu/cold/virus season & the importance of washing your hands. They did a test to see which was more "effective" & why.

 

Here's the link to the story:

Washing Hands With Soap vs. Hand Sanitizer: Which Is Better? - ABC News

 

Here's the link to the video:

Hand Sanitizers or Soap: Which Works Best? - ABC News

 

Here's the entire story:

 

'GMA' Tries Different types of Hand Sanitizer and Soap to See Which Works Best

In Hand Washing, Technique More Important Than Technology

By ELISABETH LEAMY

By Oct. 29, 2009

 

As Americans prepare for the height of flu season, health experts keep saying "Wash your hands, wash your hands."

That's great advice, but we wanted more information. What should we wash with? Is antibacterial soap better than regular soap? And do hand sanitizers really work?

"Good Morning America" put them all to the test. We went to the University of Maryland, a world leader in food safety and microbiology, and did a small, informal test in which we basically washed our hands until they were raw.

Caution: Not all soaps and sanitizers are created equal.

"Good Morning America" enlisted Jianghong Meng and his intrepid University of Maryland graduate students to do the experiment with us.

The Experiment

 

That's right. We deliberately put E. coli bacteria on our hands to see which products would wash it off. The E. coli we used for our experiment was a harmless strain, not the deadly E. coli 0-157.

After each test, we swabbed our hands to see if there was any bacteria left that would transfer to these special incubation plates.

 

First, hand sanitizers. One with alcohol as the active ingredient, versus another that was alcohol-free. The key with hand sanitizers is to use at least a half a teaspoon or enough that it takes 15 to 20 seconds before it's dry.

 

Next, we tried out some soaps. A recent British study showed using soap instead of water alone killed three times as many germs. We pitted regular bar soap against antibacterial bar soap, and regular liquid soap against antibacterial liquid soap.

Each time we washed, we counted out the full 20 seconds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends -- except once, when we tried another popular timing technique: singing. We sang our ABCs while we scrubbed, which experts say ensures you wash for at least 20 seconds.

 

E. coli. Wash. Rinse. Dry. Swab. We repeated the process again and again until our hands were chafed. Research shows that most people only dash their hands underwater for about five seconds, if they wash at all.

When she kept track, graduate student Caroline Rocourt was surprised at how long 20 seconds is.

"It's kind of hard to admit," Rocourt said. Wenting Ju, another grad student, said he'd like change his ways -- and at least wash for 10 seconds.

 

The Results

 

We came back to the University of Maryland three days later, after our samples had incubated.

We looked for white dots where E. coli colonies had grown on the incubation plates. The fewer the better. The first thing we noticed is that alcohol-based hand sanitizer clearly works the best.

In fact, the CDC says you should use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

As for soap, the antibacterial soap worked only slightly better than the regular soap.

 

The Food and Drug Administration recommends using only regular soap because of worries that germs will develop resistance, and people will develop laziness from high-tech soap.

"Based on the results that we got, it's really not necessary to use antimicrobials in the products. You can see some difference, but it's really not significant," Meng said. The difference between the amount of E. coli left by regular liquid soap and antibacterial liquid soap was even smaller almost undetectable.

 

The bottom line on hand washing: Technique is more important than technology.

The E. coli we used for our experiment was a harmless strain, not the deadly E. coli 0-157 bacteria. Swine flu is a virus, but the advice is the same: Alcohol kills viruses and soap -- any soap -- used well, washes them off.

 

When to Use Which

 

Experts say washing with soap and water is first choice, especially if you have visible dirt on your hands. Sanitizer can't cut through that grime. Hand sanitizer is great for when you can't get to soap and water, and it's actually more effective at eliminating germs because it kills them rather than just removing them.

 

You should supervise young children when they use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, but poison control centers tell us it tastes so terrible that kids don't usually eat much and don't suffer any ill effects.

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These are the measures put in place at our workplace:

 

No more shaking hands (hard when your customer has just bought a car! It's instinctual!)

We have a cup with pens that the customers are to use (i.e. don't give them your pen to sign)

Hand sanitizers on every desk we are to use after contact with every customer

Lysol wipes we are to use at the start and end of every shift (keyboard, phones, mouse, desk).

 

Plus our clean up guy wipes down the bathroom with Lysol 3 times a day. In a small dealership like ours if even 1 person gets sick, it will affect everyone. If more then 1 gets sick it could shut us down sad.gif Same with the techs in the back.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Debs View Post
These are the measures put in place at our workplace:

No more shaking hands (hard when your customer has just bought a car! It's instinctual!)
We have a cup with pens that the customers are to use (i.e. don't give them your pen to sign)
Hand sanitizers on every desk we are to use after contact with every customer
Lysol wipes we are to use at the start and end of every shift (keyboard, phones, mouse, desk).

Plus our clean up guy wipes down the bathroom with Lysol 3 times a day. In a small dealership like ours if even 1 person gets sick, it will affect everyone. If more then 1 gets sick it could shut us down sad.gif Same with the techs in the back.
These are great precautions Deb. Too bad every workplace doesn't follow them or something like it. Its up to everyone individually to make sure they keep themselves & their areas "germ free". The bad thing is I know how unsanitary some of my coworkers are (esp those who don't wash their hands while in the bathroom) so that makes it even more scary. Thank goodness I keep Purell & Clorox wipes at my desk! (That reminds me, I have to check the alcohol content in each tomorrow)

Just remember ladies, the hand sanitizer has to have at least 60% alcohol to be effective!

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great information. Thanks for posting. I run a home daycare. I have hand sanitizer everywhere through out the house. When the school age children come home from school, they can't leave the front hall until they have sanitized their hands. I also have lysol wipes that I am using to clean bathroom, railings, door handles, etc about 4 times a day.

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