Nothing beats soap-water! | HT Tech

Nothing beats soap-water!

Studies show that a soapy hand can wash away viruses that cause illnesses more effectively than other modern disinfectants.

| Updated on: Mar 19 2005, 17:32 IST

For ridding hands of viruses, nothing beats old-fashioned soap and water, scientists have concluded.

The largest and most comprehensive study was conducted by scientists at the University of North Carolina to compare the effectiveness of various hand-hygiene products, according to science portal

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Results have now shown that a soapy hand could wash away viruses that caused the common cold, hepatitis A, acute gastroenteritis and a host of other illnesses more effectively than any other modern disinfectants.

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'We studied the efficacy of 14 different hand hygiene agents in reducing bacteria and viruses from the hands. No other study has measured the effectiveness in removing both bacteria and viruses at the same time,' said public health epidemiologist Emily E Sickbert-Bennett.

In another key finding, scientists discovered that waterless hand-wipes only removed some 50 per cent of bacteria, whereas other waterless, alcohol-based agents became less effective after multiple washes, Sickbert-Bennett said.

Anti-microbial agents were best at reducing bacteria on hands, but for removing viruses that are hardy and relatively resistant to disinfection, it was the physical removal with soap and water that was most effective.

Sixty-two adults participated in the study that also tested what happened when people cleaned their hands for only 10 seconds.

'That represented the average length of time researchers observed busy health-care personnel washing or disinfecting while at work,' Sickbert-Bennett said.

'Previous studies have had people clean their hands for 30 seconds or so.'

Said William A Rutala, who was also a part of the study: 'Our study showed that at a short exposure time of 10 seconds, all agents except hand-wipes demonstrated a 90 per cent reduction of bacteria on the hands.

'These findings are important because health care associated infections rank in the top five causes of death. Hand hygiene agents have shown to reduce their incidence,' Rutala added.

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First Published Date: 16 Mar, 20:44 IST