Smart Healthy Choices

Sanitizers? Soap? We clean up the questions everyone asks.

Close Up of Woman Washing Hands
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All of Ontario has now moved onto Phase 3. This is good news as this tells us our society and communities are doing their part in flattening the curve. However, just because it may look normal does not mean it is. Remember to wear masks and wash your hands.
Speaking of washing your hands, you might be wondering what the differences between hand sanitizer and soap are? While the two are the main ways to keep hygienic in these turbulent times, but they act differently.
hands with soap foam

What is Soap?

So, soap is made of fat or oils with an alkali and water if you did not know already. When those ingredients are mixed, they react with one another to create soap. Who knew that these were the ingredients for such a mysterious item we often take for granted?
Because germs and bacteria are often attached to the grease and oils of our hands, the soap chemically connects with them and pulls them into the sink after rinsing your hands. However, the 20 seconds is vital in all of this.
The reason you wash for 20 seconds is that soap takes just a bit more time to contact the germs. Need further convincing that 10 or 15 seconds still does not cut it? Watch Vox’s handwashing test.

What is Hand Sanitizer?

Hand Sanitizer has become convenient just because of the versatility and compatibility of its packaging. Besides, it’s more convenient because you no longer need to go to a restroom to access water like soap. But how does hand sanitizer differ from soap?

Hand sanitizers are made of hydrogel with alcohol and fragrance. This is already significantly different at a chemical level. Also, rather than removing the bacteria, it kills it.  PBS does a great video explaining it more in detail.

So if it kills bacteria, why is it not as highly recommended compared to soap?

The reason is that hand sanitizer does not clean grease, metals, pesticides, and dirt off well compared to soap. This makes sense as there is nothing chemically in the sanitizer that can get rid of the oils.

However, not everyone is outside touching the ground and exposing themselves to heavily soiled areas; therefore, hand sanitizer can be a great quick cleanse before eating when no washrooms are available.

Are you thinking of which hand sanitizer to get? Read this list of approved hand sanitizers from Health Canada. 

Why does the hand sanitizer smell odd?

We have exposed to the limitless kinds of scented hand sanitizers. Although, ever since the pandemic came around, we’ve all been introduced to horrid smelling hand sanitizers. We all know that some places have made an effort to be safe but did not have enough to pay for scented hand sanitizer. This resulted in hand sanitizers that were made by your local brewers to keep up with the demand. 

What makes the smell horrid is that organic products like corn and sugarcane were turned into ethanol. However, because of the unfiltered nature and the mix of other alcohols, it becomes an unpleasant concoction. However, as long as the sanitizers contain at least 70% ethanol alcohol, it still will be doing its job!

Woman use of hand sanitizer in restaurant before eating

The Verdict? Use them both!

If you can do both, then you are doubling your protection against the nasty virus that is circulating all over the world. In addition to getting rid of oils, dirt, and unwanted substances, the extra alcohol that soap does not provide can be of great help.

It is also important to remember that the substance is only half the battle.  We highly recommend that you wash your hands like in this infographic provided by the World Health Organization.

How to wash hands world health organization

Washing your hands may prevent you from getting sick, but once you are feeling feverish, that’s another issue. 

What happens when you are feeling a bit under the weather and can not visit the Doctor?
Too tired to go outside and want to get help now, right at home?
Talk to our online Pharmacist who can help you get the health attention you need and refer to a doctor with reduced wait times.
Fatma Mahmoud
Fatma Mahmoud

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