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Soap vs Hand Sanitizer

Of all the things I thought I needed to plan for this year, a pandemic was not one of them.  Nor did I think I would need to ponder the qualities of soap vs hand sanitizer. This coronavirus has shattered all of our plans.  It’s scary!  We are worried about our friends and families, our jobs and businesses, and our future.  For me, information and facts regarding action we can take during scary times helps ease some of the stress and anxiety.  One of the most important actions we can take right now is to keep our hands clean.  In this post I will discuss the pros and cons of both soap and hand sanitizer.  And I will throw in a little comic relief with Alton Brown.

Hand Sanitizer

Two of the benefits of hand sanitizer vs soap are its portability and ease of use.  I carry a bottle in my vehicle readily available in order to clean my hands before I touch anything.  You really can’t beat the convenience of it.  And in many situations it is the only practical solution.  However…

It is important to read the manufacturer’s directions for use to be sure we are using the proper amount.  Also, hand sanitizer must be at least 60% ethyl alcohol in order to be effective.  And the product must remain on your hands until it naturally dries.  Don’t wipe it off!!  Most commercial products contain specific ingredients that help spread the gel and insure it stays wet for the required amount of time. 

As convenient as hand sanitizer is, all that alcohol is super drying for your skin.  Our skin is our first defense against pathogens and we don’t want them getting into cracked fingers!!  Secondly, hand sanitizer is effective against some cooties but not all.  It doesn’t work on norovirus or rhinovirus for example.

bulk soap samples
Our Bulk Soap Samples


Although hand sanitizer is easy to use, my hands never really feel clean until I wash them the old fashioned way…with soap and water.  Coronavirus pathogens are enveloped within a fat layer.  Soap breaks up that fatty layer and the mechanical action of rubbing our hands together while washing helps to dislodge pathogens which are then rinsed off. 

Luckily I happen to know a fabulous soap maker!!  I keep a travel size bar at each sink, like the ones above, in the studio and my home.  That way I can have a good scrub whenever I come in from the outdoors.  If you choose a handcrafted soap with a high percentage of olive oil and pure essential oils, your hands won’t experience the dryness associated with alcohol based sanitizers.  Soap is effective against all pathogens, microbes, grease, and just plain old dirt!!

Here again there is a method of hand washing that increases its effectiveness.  Rather than bore you with step by step directions, check out Alton Brown’s YouTube video below.  CDC recommends a 20 second scrub.  Alton goes a step further!!


It is a very stressful time in our lives.  Human beings are social animals.  We were meant to be together in numbers.  It’s a strategy that has insured the survival of our species for hundreds of thousands of years when we had to defend ourselves against and hunt large game.  So isolating ourselves from those we love goes against our deep seated instinct to gather in groups in threatening times.  It can cause severe dissonance in us. 

But we are not defenseless.  We can all do our part to help each other even if it has to be done from a distance.  We can use technology to check on each other and offer a word of encouragement and support.  We can take this time to look within and discover the things that are truly important to us.  And we can use this down time to nurture our creativity, another human instinct.  Read, draw, paint, sing, dance, write, and celebrate our humanity.  Together, we will get through this too.  Stay well my friends, stay well!!  And remember, wash those hands!!     

1 thought on “Soap vs Hand Sanitizer

  1. Thank goodness for your amazing soap. I’m a health care provider and having to wear gloves and wash my hands a million times a day. I know that some oils are antibacterial and not drying like alcohol.
    So thank you !

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