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Sanitizer or Water & Soap: What to use when?

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

The outbreak of COVID-19 made our cognition to work on an infinite loop reminding us to use hand sanitizers and follow good hand hygiene practice. Many among us hold the 5W1H questions (Who, What, Why, Where, When and How) of this essential phenomenon and are looking for a perfect definition. This blog is for those inquisitive minds.

Though this term hand hygiene was around us for years, it became a chapter for us when this outbreak made our livelihood to take a topsy-turvy adventure. This could not be a perfect time to think and bring a controversial debate on who invented it and who coined the terminologies but it is the right time to learn what hand hygiene is and its importance.

Agreeing on the term 'Change starts from within', Inculcating the habit of hygiene within self will promote each of us as an ambassador of hand hygiene to the society we live in and to the young minds to build a hygienic community in the coming future.


The term, SANITIZER / HAND WASH may seem to be effortless to pronounce but yes the composition it carries is effective to kill the pathogens. It is recommended to follow 3R (Right quantity, Right contact time and Right hand hygiene practice) to achieve that effectiveness. The Right Quantity is 2.5 to 3 ml of 60-80% ABHR (Alcohol based handrub) and the Right contact time is for 20secs following 6 steps of Right hand hygiene practices. To make this more effortless, efficient and safe, WHO have recommended the right composition that proves its efficacy with 3R’s followed.

For kids, 60% alcohol is preferred or they can use soap and water wash if the hands are visibly dirt.

In a Healthcare setting, it is mandatory to follow 5 moments of hand hygiene with 6 steps of good hand hygiene practice to ensure the safety of the individual and have secondary infection free hospital.


Our hands carry invisible microorganisms that could cause serious illness if ignored, one good example is the contagious outbreak of covid 19. Better understanding of this shall enlighten us in “what has to be used and where” to defend ourselves from the invisible.

Microbes found could be classified into three types