Antibacterial soap is not more effective in community-settings and under normal use conditions (i.e. when hands are not washed for as long and thoroughly as in laboratory experiments). This is thought to be because of the way soap works at a microbiological level (see ‘Why does handwashing with soap work so well to prevent COVID-19?’) and because it takes a while for the antimicrobial properties to be activated and by this time most pathogens have already been removed from hands. Antimicrobial soap is recommended in health care facilities since it is important to ensure that sinks and drains don’t become reservoirs for pathogens in these settings.   

Using nicer soap may make handwashing more desirable and therefore contribute to the development of good habits. In particular liquid soap is considered more desirable in many settings. 

Want to know more about COVID-19 and handwashing? 

Editor's note

Author: Sian White
Review: Katie Greenland, Ammar Fawzi
Last update: 13.04.2020

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