Study: Soap superior to hand sanitizers

Dec. 30, 2009 at 10:35 AM

OTTAWA, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A University of Ottawa researcher has found liquid and foam hand sanitizers are inefficient if not backed up with regular soap-and-water hand-washing.

Microbiologist Jason Tetro conducted a test on schoolchildren at the request of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. in which swabs of their hands for bacterial culture were taken before they used hand sanitizer and then after they had used it.

He said while many sanitizers claim to kill 99.9 percent of germs, results seen using three brands ranged from 46 percent fewer bacteria to 60.4 percent.

"It was very obvious which ones were washing their hands and which ones weren't. You could see, practically, the dirt and oil buildup on their hands," Tetro told the Ottawa Citizen. "The caveat to all that is that you should be washing your hands eight to 12 times a day," or the sanitizer won't work well."

He noted the test found the students who play sports and got dirty outdoors were more likely to wash their hands with soap than the more sedentary students, the report said.

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