By Martha Chapman, RN & Manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital
This year is already shaping up to be a big one for the flu. Clean hands are one of the best ways to fight a cold and the flu, especially since people often get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, nose or mouth. But what is best for hand washing: regular soap, antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer?
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “no evidence suggests that the use of antibacterial soap provides a benefit over plain soap in reducing bacterial counts and rate of infectious symptoms in generally healthy persons in the household setting.” The main point is to just wash your hands correctly. Studies show that people usually don’t wash often enough or for long enough. Hands should be washed for 10 to 15 seconds, or about as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.”
What about alcohol hand sanitizers?
They actually kill more bacteria and viruses than soap and water! The CDC recommends a product with at least 60 percent alcohol. Hand sanitizers are portable, easy to use and don’t require water.
Conclusion: Use regular soap, antibacterial soap or hand sanitizer, but use whatever product you choose, use it often and correctly!