Soap for hand hygiene: which one is best and how to use it?

Hand hygiene is an important step in preventing disease.

In periods of spread of diseases like the Coronavirus , it is even more necessary to maintain a cleaning routine.

For this, it is necessary to know which are the best products and techniques for skin hygiene.


What is the best product for hand hygiene?

Although there are several cleaning products, soapy water and 70% alcohol gel are still the best options for hand hygiene. This, for a few reasons:

The first is that some microorganisms, such as the Coronavirus, have their outer part made up of fat.

Soap is a product that breaks down fat. In this way, it destroys the outer layer of the virus, causing its destruction.

The second reason is that microorganisms, when present in the hands, are protected by natural dirt from the skin, such as cell debris, for example.

Upon contact with the soap, these cells are removed, exposing the microorganism and facilitating its destruction.

Alcohol also provides a similar action, since it works by dissolving fat and preventing further contamination. However, it is important that the product used has a concentration of 70%.

This is because alcohol with a concentration below 70% may not have the expected effectiveness and, above that value, cause skin irritation.

Regarding its presentation, the gel form is the most suitable, since, in general, it does not cause dryness in the hands.

Soap or gel alcohol: which is more effective to fight the coronavirus?

As already mentioned in a previous topic, 70% alcohol gel has the same effectiveness as cleaning with water and soap.

Thus, the product can also act in the fight against Coronavirus. However, the preference is always to wash your hands with running water and soap.

This is because if the hands are visibly dirty (with food scraps, for example), the action of alcohol can be ineffective.

What is the difference between soaps?

There are currently several types of soaps available on the shelves of markets and pharmacies.

Each one has its characteristics as a fragrance, but, in general, they all work on cleaning the skin.

Among the available options, there are the soaps:


The antibacterial soap, as the name says, has anti-bacteria action. It is well known for eliminating “99.9%” of bacteria from the body.

Most have, in their composition, substances capable of eliminating these microorganisms.

However, its use is recommended only on specific occasions, such as wounds, for example.

This, because in the dermis there are several types of bacteria, good and bad. By using the product on a recurring basis, even those beneficial to the body are eliminated.

Thus, frequent use can alter the microbial composition of the dermis.

Some antibacterial soap options are:

  • Protex Antibacterial Soap ;
  • Antibacterial Rexona Soap ;
  • Nivea Antibacterial Protection & Care Soap ;
  • Francis Antibacterial Soap ;
  • Hidraderm Antibacterial Soap .


Neutral soaps are those that have a pH close to that of the skin, that is, between 4.5 and 5.7.

Its formula, in general, aims not to cause changes and irritations, being ideal for people with sensitive dermis.

Generally, they are the most common to be found in commerce and, among the options, are:

  • Palmolive Nutri-Milk Soap ;
  • GH Premium Neutral and Moisturizing Soap ;
  • Baby Dove Enriched Hydration Soap ;
  • Baby Dove Sensitive Hydration Soap .


Glycerin soaps are those that contain glycerin in their composition.

Glycerin is a compound present in vegetable oils and animal fat, used in the composition of soaps and hair products.

It has moisturizing properties and moisturizing action, that is, it attracts moisture from the air to the skin.

Among the glycerin soaps are:

  • Lux Botanicals Glycerin Soap ;
  • Granado Glycerin Soap ;
  • Nivea Glycerin Soap ;
  • Traditional Phebo Soap .

Liquid soap or bar: which is more hygienic?

There are different presentations of soaps available on the market. In general, even today, the two most common are liquid and bar soap.

Each has its own characteristics and advantages. Between them:


Liquid soaps, as the name implies, are those that are fluid in consistency.

Generally, they are used to wash hands, however, there are versions for the body as well.

An advantage of this presentation is that, unlike what happens with the bar, only the amount actually used will be manipulated. Especially when more than one person shares the product, it makes hand or body washing much more hygienic.

In addition, in general, liquid versions have a pH close to that of the skin, being suitable for people who have a tendency to allergies or irritations in the region.

Among the different options of liquid soaps, there are:

  • Nivea Creme Care Soaps ;
  • Sabonete Dove Go Fresh ;
  • Fiorucci soap ;
  • Palmolive Soap Secret Nature ;
  • Johnson’s Baby Soap .

Bar soap

The bar soap has a solid consistency and is, in general, the most used version during the bath.

One of its advantages is that, generally, this presentation has a higher pH, which facilitates the removal of residues in a deeper way.

There are several types of soaps in the bar version. Some options are:

  • Sabonete Dove Delicious Care ;
  • Soap Davene La Flore ;
  • Davene Oat Milk Moisturizing Soap ;
  • Johnson’s Hypoallergenic Soap ;
  • Creamy Phebo Mediterranean Soap .

Is alcohol more effective than hand-washing soap?

No . Both cleaning with soap and water and alcohol are similarly effective in combating the proliferation of viruses, bacteria and fungi.

What happens is that alcohol only prevents proliferation, while water and soap also act in cleaning and removing residues from the surface of the dermis, in addition to microorganisms, it contains remains of skin cells and accumulated dirt.

Thus, whenever possible, it is preferable to use soap and water, which will eliminate not only the organisms, but also the visible and invisible dirty aspect of the skin.

Do I need to use gel alcohol after washing my hand with soap?

No . Both soap and alcohol have the same effect.

Thus, cleaning with soap and water and then with alcohol is like washing your hands twice. Thus, the use of the products does not need to be done together.

Alcohol can be used as a substitute for soap and water, when they are not available or when the person’s hands are not visibly dirty.

What is the right way to hand hygiene: prevention step by step

To keep your hands hygienic and free from viruses, bacteria and fungi, some steps during washing must be followed, so that an effective asepsis is performed.

The right way to wash your hands is:

  1. Open the tap and wet your hands under running water;
  2. Apply an amount of soap on the palm of your hands that is sufficient to cover all surfaces to be cleaned;
  3. Rub one palm of the hand in the other, spreading the soap and lathering them thoroughly;
  4.  Place the palm of your right hand on the back of your left hand and rub, interlacing your fingers;
  5. Place the palm of your left hand on the back of your right hand and rub, interlacing your fingers;
  6. With your palms facing each other, interlace your fingers, rubbing the spaces between your fingers;
  7. Rub the back of the fingers of the right hand in the palm of the left hand, with back and forth movements;
  8. Rub the back of the fingers of the left hand in the palm of the right hand, with back and forth movements;
  9. With the palm and fingers of your right hand, hug the thumb of your left hand and rub it in a circular motion;
  10. With the palm and fingers of your left hand, hug the thumb of your right hand and rub it in rotating movements;
  11. With your left hand in the shape of a cup, rub the fingertips and nails of your right hand in your palm, making rotating movements;
  12. With your right hand cupped, rub the fingertips and nails of your left hand in your palm, making circular movements;
  13. With your right hand, rub your left wrist in a circular motion;
  14. With your left hand, rub your right wrist in a circular motion;
  15. If possible, with your elbow, turn on the tap;
  16. Rinse your hands, removing the soap;
  17. Remove excess water with a towel or disposable paper, first drying your hands and then your wrists.

In general, the time for correct hand washing should last for a period of at least 20 seconds, ideally between 40 and 60 seconds.

Remember to remove rings or bracelets before washing your hands, as these accessories can make cleaning difficult.

If you want to clean with antiseptic alcohol, the steps are the same, just changing the soap for the desired product.

In times of disease spread, hand hygiene becomes the focus of attention.

However, it is important to know how to wash correctly and effectively.

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