Jessica Rocha of the News Observer‘s recent article “Soap Cleans Up In Study” says:
The tried-and-true method of keeping hands clean turns out to be better than new-fangled antibacterial gels and hand wipes at getting rid of bacteria and viruses – even if it’s just a 10-second splash.
That’s the word from researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. They compared soap and water to alcohol-based antibacterial rubs and hand wipes commonly found in hospitals. Their findings are published in the March issue of American Journal of Infection Control.
Soap and water works better over repeated use because water removes germs by washing them down the drain, said Emily Sickbert-Bennett, a public-health epidemiologist for UNC Hospitals, who helped write the study.
With waterless rubs and wipes, you never rinse your hands. You are just rubbing a chemical into your hand and letting it dry.
The old commonsense approach might not change how things are done in hospitals, the food-service industry or in other places where hand-washing is equally important, because hand-rub solutions are still considered highly effective, especially if there’s no available alternative.
Engel said hand gels are less effective if hands are visibly soiled, such as when children became violently sick by a strain of E. coli bacteria linked to a petting zoo at the North Carolina State Fair in the fall. A Department of Agriculture task force is reviewing petting-zoo sanitation policies.