Soap Vs Sanitiser: Which Works Best?

Woman washing hands with soap in the sink
This is where the nerd in me jumps out, but bear with me because this is very important science: a virus can only successfully reproduce in the ‘host’ cell if the protective outer membrane of the virus is broken down and it is unable to replicate or infect other cells. Both soap, if used correctly, and alcohol (preferably botanically derived ethanol at 70% or more) are able to break down the lipid membrane of the COVID-19 virus and disable it.


How does soap really scrub up?

For soap and water to be effective, hands must be washed thoroughly for at least 20 seconds (for example, the time it takes to sing ‘Happy Birthday’). However, it is not always possible to use soap and water when out and about, so this is where the use of a hand sanitiser is more convenient and highly effective.

Microbes, bacteria & germs, oh my!

Our hand and surface Sanitiser Spray has the following benefits:

• It is antimicrobial, which means it will target all microbes (germs) such as bacteria, yeast, mould and, most importantly, viruses.
• It contains 70% w/w grain derived alcohol which is proven to disable COVID-19 and stop the infection of human host cells.
• The convenience of a spray can be used to disable the virus on surfaces as well as the hands.

As a cosmetic chemist and immunology graduate, it concerns me that many hand sanitisers for sale both online and in stores are promoted as ‘antibacterial’. This is great if trying to prevent the spread of bacteria, but COVID-19 is, of course, a virus. Bacteria and viruses are both microbes, but bacteria are vastly different in structure and function. Sanitiser labels can be very misleading so I repeat: antibacterial products will not necessarily kill viruses.

It is also interesting that many sanitisers have incomplete or, at worst, no ingredients listed on their packaging! It is also concerning that these products are permitted to be sold to consumers who have no idea what is in them, or if they are even going to work.


So… sanitiser or soap? Both are highly effective if used as directed and formulated correctly. As a consumer, knowledge is power and my advice is to read your labels, always check on the dose of alcohol (70% w/w or above is the way to go), and ensure the manufacturer is a reputable producer with a clear understanding of the science of producing an effective antiviral sanitiser. Stay safe and clean. We will all be doing this for quite some time.

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