Handwashing with soap is the most commonly recommended method for removing SARS-CoV-2 from hands. This is because soap is effective in removing and killing the virus and because soap is cheap and affordable. It is also gentle on hands so repeated use should not cause irritation. Alcohol-based hand rub is as effective against the virus but is less widely available and is often more expensive. It is recommended that alcohol-based hand rub be a back-up solution, for when handwashing with soap is difficult or impractical (such as when a person is outside their home).
Alcohol-based hand rub must contain at least 60% alcohol in order to be effective (check the back of the bottle for information). Modern alcohol-based hand rubs rarely cause skin irritation because they normally contain skin softeners to prevent skin drying. For this reason, it is not recommended to promote home recipes for alcohol-based hand rub. For more about perceived risks associated with hand sanitisers read this article from the WHO.
Example from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, India.
Want to know more about COVID-19 and handwashing?
- Why does handwashing with soap work so well to prevent COVID-19?
- Can ash be used for handwashing?
- Are some types of soap more effective than others?
- Should we be promoting handwashing with chlorinated water?
- What can we do where soap is scarce?
- Can soapy water be used?
- Should we be promoting handwashing at different times during the COVID-19 outbreak?
- What can we do in areas with real water scarcity?
- Can I use greywater or water that is not clean for handwashing?
- Is it safe for people to share handwashing water?
- Do public handwashing facilities pose a risk?
- Can bar soap spread COVID-19?
- What kinds of handwashing facilities should we construct?
- How should hands be dried?