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? 

Editor's note

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

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