SOAP vs SANITIZER – which one is better and when?

Hand sanitizers have recently come up as a life saving hero in these times of pandemic. People now often prefer to using sanitizers more than orthodox soap and water wash.

Markets are filled with products stating 99%+ efficiencies.

Lets understand the difference between soap and a sanitizer.


There are some points to be kept in mind while using both- soap or  sanitizer.

1. The process should cover all your surfaces of hand. Most importantly the space between fingers and the finger tips. These sites often contain bacterias and chemicals in maximum amount. Also, these are most commonly missed by many during the cleaning process.

2. Hand washing using soap and water should be done for at least 20-30 seconds.

Meaning, the foam caused by rubbing the soap on the hand should stay on your skin for atleast 20 seconds and then it should be rinsed off using water.
The chemicals used in the soap take atleast 20 seconds to act on the outer surfaces of the bacterias and kill them.

While using a sanitizer, the sanitizer should be rubbed on the handuntill it dries off from from your hand.

3. These measures should always be used immediately before touching any part of face. Also these are ment to be used before putting on and after removing your mask.

BUT, make sure there is no soap or sanitizer remaining on your hand before touching your eyes. Because the left over soap or sanitizer may irritate your eyes.

The alcohol you drink and the Alcohol you apply to clean your hands are different!

Check out more details here 👇.


1. Rapid acting

2. Easy to use . Easy to access. Can be carried at any location and can be used even when water is inaccessible.

Some trials conducted across the world, have shown that hand sanitizer use was rapidly adopted by the community as well as by the students in school students as compared to increase in hand washing habits. This lead to overall increase in hand sanitization and thereby decrease in diseases.

3. No need to dry or wipe your hands after use.


1. Best results in terms of dis-infecting and protection.

2. Can remove oily/waxy substances from hands. They are also effective in removing heavy metals and pesticides from skin.

3. Can remove visible dirty and soil from hands, which a sanitizer can not do.


1. Can not remove oily/waxy substances from hands. Also they are not as effective in removing heavy metals and chemicals such as pesticides from skin surfaces.

2. Can not remove visible dirt and soil from the hands.

You can even try these at home. Once you return from outdoors, use your sanitizer to clean your hand. Then use soap and water to clean your hand.

You will still find visible dirty running off after you wash your hands in water after using soap.

If your hands are oily, use a sanitizer. Sanitizer will not be able to remove the oil from your skin.


1. Time consuming process. You need to go to a wash basin to use this method.

2. Inaccessibility. You need water to use this process.


1. Drying of skin leading to eczema. Hand sanitizers lead to removal of natural oils from our skin and that leads to dryness and itching.
This can be prevented by using a moisturiser after the use of sanitizer.

2. Skin Sensitivity and Allergy. Certain people have skin which is sensitive to multiple chemical or they have allergy to alcohol and other products used in sanitizer.

These people are often left with no other option other than hand washing using soap and water.

3. Recently due to rapid increase in demand of sanitizers, some manufacturers have started using chemicals which are harmful to the human body even if applied on skin.

In the recent study by FDA, they found new ingredient used by certain manufacturers which can cause some serious side effects even when aplied on skin. These products are – METHANOL which can cause vision disturbances, and 1-PROPANOL (aka propanol, n-propanol). Check out more details of sanitizer and it’s content here.

4. A sanitizer has to be kept away from reach of children in order to prevent intake by mistake.

Drinking a hand sanitiser can lead to some serious life threatening complications. Check out the complications here.


1. Water loss. This may sound stupid but using soap and water does lead to loss of water.

2. Skin sensitivity and allergy.

Yes, even the soap is sensitive to skin of certain people and the chemicals used can also lead to allergies. But these allergies are comparatively rare as compared to sanitizers.

There are alternative soaps with non-allergenic substances available in market for such problems.

Hence, using SOAP AND WATER wash is always better than using a SANITIZER.

The same is also recommended by CDC (centre for disease control prevention). Sanitizer is an alternative to soap and water wash and never a replacement.

“baap baap hota hain!” 😉😅

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  1. CDC-
  3. A community‐randomised controlled trial promoting waterless hand sanitizer and handwashing with soap, Dhaka, BANGLADESH BY Stephen P Luby, Mohammad Abdul Kadir, MA Yushuf Sharker, Farzana Yeasmin, Leanne Unicomb, M Sirajul Islam
  4. Access to waterless hand sanitizer improves student hand hygiene behavior in primary schools in Nairobi, KENYA by Amy J Pickering, Jennifer Davis, Annalise G Blum, Jenna Scalmanini, Beryl Oyier, George Okoth, Robert F Breiman, Pavani K Ram
all the images used in this blog are all taken from google and respective sites.
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