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COVID-19 Questions: Soap vs. Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer vs. Soap

The coronavirus pandemic has led many people to be concerned about keeping themselves and others safe. Most people in the world are doing their part to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 by staying at home as much as possible, following social distancing rules, and developing specific habits like regular handwashing.

Washing your hands regularly with soap and water has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) as ways to combat the coronavirus. However, as the pandemic continues, alternatives to hand washing have sprung up.

Soap vs. Hand Sanitizer

Why is soap so good at getting rid of harmful bacteria and viruses, including the one that causes COVID-19? Hand sanitizers are typically more convenient than washing your hands with soap, but are they effective at killing the coronavirus? How much alcohol content needs to be in hand sanitizer for it to work? Our movers in North Texas have compiled a series of facts and information that help answer those COVID-19 questions for you.

Wash Your Hands With Soap For 20 Seconds

Hand hygiene is an important part of the response to the global emergence of the COVID-19 respiratory disease. It helps remove germs, prevent the spread of infections, and decreases you risk of getting sick. The CDC recommends you wash your hands often with plain soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.1 It is especially important to wash your hands before food preparation or eating and after coughing, sneezing, blowing one’s nose, and going to the bathroom.

How Soap Kills The Coronavirus

Soap is incredibly effective at killing the coronavirus, or more accurately, deactivating SARS-CoV-2 since it is able to dissolve the fat layer that coats the virus.2 Once these lipids are dissolved by soap, the structure of the virus collapses, effectively deactivating or “killing” the virus. It is important to scrub your hands thoroughly and rinse all soap suds away to ensure your hands are truly clean.

Only Use Hand Sanitizers With Over 60% Alcohol

Like soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective at inactivating SARS-CoV-2. They provide a quick and convenient alternative to washing your hands with soap and water to defend against harmful bacteria and viruses. The CDC recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol.3 Recent studies by scientists in Germany and Switzerland have shown that two alcohol-based sanitizer formulations are effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus specifically: sanitizers with 80% ethanol and sanitizers with 75% isopropanol.4

Avoid Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer

While alcohol-based hand sanitizers are proven to be effective at maintaining hand hygiene and getting rid of the harmful coronavirus, there are widespread shortages in the U.S. and globally. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend people make their own hand sanitizers because they can be ineffective or even cause skin burns if done incorrectly.5 Using hand sanitizers should not replace washing your hands regularly with soap and water.

We Take COVID-19 Safety Seriously

At Firehouse Movers, both our office staff and North Texas full-service movers on the field have been instructed to wash their hands regularly. They also bring hand sanitizer with them on every job and disinfect their trucks and equipment daily. Learn more about our COVID-19 safety protocols by contacting us or giving us a call at 972-412-6033. You can also schedule a move with us! As an essential business, we are open for business.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – When & How to Wash Your Hands
  2. Sandee LaMotte, CNN – Why soap, sanitizer and warm water work against Covid-19 and other viruses
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Hand Hygiene
  4. James Kingsland, Medical News Today — COVID-19: Hand sanitizers inactivate novel coronavirus, study finds

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Q&A for Consumers: Hand Sanitizers and COVID-19