Simple Sickness Prevention: Hand-Washing vs. Hand-Sanitizer

By  | 

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- With the cooler temperatures, comes flu season. Studies have found that frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness, but what is more effective, old fashioned soap and water, or the alcohol based hand sanitizer?

Doctor Jaime Marks is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UW-Health. "Most people don't wash their hands long enough to use it satisfactorily, that's when hand sanitizer would be better because you can use it shorter," says Dr. Marks.

Festival Foods is just one location in Eau Claire that has sanitizing wipes available for customers. The store says it's been supplying the wipes for almost eight years and says their customers appreciate the option.

In most cases, Dr. Marks says it's okay to use either hand-washing or hand-sanitizer. "If you notice your hands are soiled, you'll want to wash your hands. Hand washing is at least 45-60 seconds, like singing through "Happy Birthday" twice in your head. With hand sanitizer, you'd want to use it for 20-30 seconds. Both are about equal as far as getting your hands clean as long as your hands are not soiled."

There's also a difference between good bacteria and bad bacteria. Dr. Marks says "Everybody has bacteria that grows and lives on their body. Getting exposed to little amounts of bacteria is natural. “It's always good to get exposed to some things. It helps build an immune response. It helps build antibodies, so that when you're exposed to other things, you can fight them off."

Although, washing your hands is kind of a given, medical professionals are urging people to get the vaccine this year.