If you’re like us, then you’ve spent the last year inundated with information regarding the best ways to avoid COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus. With new information coming out each day, it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s not. Experts are still determining exactly how the virus is transmitted, how long it can live on surfaces, and how to best prevent the spread. One particularly contentious debate surrounds the effectiveness of hand sanitizer vs. soap. We’re here to set the record straight.
An act as simple as washing your hands can be detrimental to the virus.
At this point, if you were to go on the hunt for a bottle of hand sanitizer, you’d be hard-pressed to find it. Within a matter of days of the first US confirmed case, supermarkets and online retailers were completely sold out of hand sanitizers and continue to struggle to keep other chemical household cleaners on the shelves. Even with all this hype and increasing scarcity as customers hoard as many as 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer, new information suggests that soap may be a far superior alternative.
The coronavirus disease can actually be considered quite fragile. This is because the virus doesn’t contain a ribosome and therefore cannot make its own proteins. It’s completely dependent on its host and is particularly fond of our skin due to its organic make-up. The dead skin cells on our hands act as a magnet to the virus on an infected surface.
Viruses are made up of a collection of genetic material, proteins, and lipids (or fats). The coronavirus, in particular, is surrounded in a protective lipid envelope that can be somewhat easily degraded when compared to other more hardy viral shapes. While scientists now understand that the virus can live on surfaces for a matter of days, an act as simple as washing your hands can be detrimental to the virus; more so than the highly coveted hand sanitizers.
For one, not all hand sanitizers are created equal. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Anything less will be ineffective at killing the virus. Furthermore, while a sanitizer with high alcohol content can break apart the virus, it will not remove the virus from your skin entirely. Soap, on the other hand, is able to disinfect because of its ability to break up and loosen the adherence of both bacteria and viruses on your skin. The fatty soap molecules are able to trap the virus, allowing them to be washed away with the water. To achieve the same results with a sanitizer, you would effectively need to soak your hands completely because a quick slather doesn’t guarantee you’ll disinfect all of your skin.
“... Soap.. Is able to disinfect because of its ability to break up and loosen the adherence of both bacteria and viruses on your skin.”
Furthermore, using chemical-based cleaners and sanitizers could actually cause more harm than good. It’s no secret that inhaling chemicals can be damaging to your health. As a respiratory illness, the coronavirus can be further exacerbated by environmental factors. Many of the toxic chemicals in bleach or alcohol-based cleaning products can lead to additional respiratory health problems if inhaled consistently over time. This is NOT what “cleaning” our skin should look like!
Once you’ve lathered up with an ethanol-based sanitizer a couple of times, you’re likely left with scaly, lifeless skin. Continuous use can cause irritation and increased skin sensitivity, resulting in dry skin stripped of healthy natural oils. Once damaged, the skin is significantly more vulnerable to infection. And if you have notoriously sensitive skin, you may even be left with lasting irritation that you’ve fought so hard to soothe.
To combat this, we recommend ditching the sanitizer whenever possible and opting for a bar of goat milk soap instead. We know you won’t always have access to a sink and your preferred bar of goat milk soap from Bend Soap Co., but making it a priority to wash with an all-natural, skin-nourishing soap over a sanitizer will make a world of difference for your skin and potentially your health.
Any of our goat milk soaps will be effective at removing both bacteria and viruses from your skin when proper handwashing techniques are applied. If you’re looking for something more powerful than your traditional Unscented Goat Milk Soap, we recommend opting for our All Shield, Tea Tree or Lemongrass bars as these scents all contain a blend of essential oils known for the natural antibacterial and antiviral disinfecting benefits they offer the skin. When you use our soaps, you’ll notice that your hands retain their moisture and hydration. This is because we’ve intentionally avoided using any toxic chemical ingredients that are typically used in big-name brand soaps — like triclosan or alcohol — due to the potential health risks associated with using them.
After washing, it’s also recommended that you dry your hands completely with a clean towel or better yet, paper towels. Experts have found that both bacteria and viruses are more likely to bind to wet hands than dry hands. If you do use hand towels, consider changing them out frequently.
Whether you’ve been using Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, or traditional soap, your hands are likely feeling less than supple and in need of a little TLC. Luckily, with government-issued closures and increased awareness of the importance of social distancing, a lot of us are faced with an abundance of free time. This is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a little at-home spa treatment! Start with one of our all-natural sugar scrubs to buff off the layer of dehydrated, dead skin you’ve accumulated over the past few weeks. You’ll be amazed by the glowing, soft skin buried underneath. To maintain your best skin, make sure to apply a generous coat of your favorite goat milk lotion consistently throughout your day (don’t forget to order a lotion pump!). Taking these steps will ensure you’re protecting your skin and your health.
These are uncertain times and it’s up to all of us to take whatever small actions we can to protect ourselves and those around us. Handwashing is a huge part of lessening the spread of viruses and diseases and keeping us healthy. If you only have access to a bottle of hand sanitizer — by all means, use it. But if you find yourself able to suds up with a bar of soap, please do. We’re doing our best to stay healthy by following official recommendations for best practices and hope our extended Bend Soap Co. family is staying strong!
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