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Which Is Better: Hand Sanitizer or Soap & Water for handwashing?

hand washing with whole naturals castile soap

My Dear Reader and Fellow Cleaning Enthusiasts,

In the 1840’s a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis noticed something fascinating. Women giving birth, in hospital wards that were staffed by doctors, were more likely to develop a fever (or other complications) than patients in maternity wards that were s staffed solely by midwives. Why? Midwives had developed a habit of hand washing between patients, and staying in the same ward - whereas the doctors - who went from ward to ward - didn’t. He proposed an idea - have the medical professionals wash their hands to minimized cross-contamination from one patient to another. He met with much resistance to this novel and revolutionary idea. A few years later, when the famous Florence Nightingale implemented handwashing at her hospital, the reduction of patients with infections was dramatic, she too faced ridicule to this idea.

Interestingly enough, it took more than 100 years passed before the hand-hygiene practices promoted by Semmelweis and Nightingale were adopted.

“Wash your hands” has become a household mantra, and in our germ-conscious world, keeping our hands clean is a constant battle. Why do we wash our hands? To remove germs? To keep them clean? Both? When we think of washing hands, what products come to mind? For me it's easy to list the two trusty sidekicks in our arsenal – hand soap and hand sanitizer. Which weapon is mightier? The answer, like most things in life, is "it depends!"

Soap and Water for Handwashing

For heavy-duty cleaning, soap and water reign supreme. Here's why:

  • Germ Removal: Soap disrupts the membranes of germs, detaching them from your skin. Water then washes them away, leaving your hands sparkling clean. This is especially effective against nasty stuff like viruses, bacteria, and even parasites.

  • Grease and Grime: Soap cuts through grease and grime, common culprits in kitchens and workshops. Hand sanitizer simply can't compete here!

  • Chemical-Free and Fragrance Free: Whole Naturals Castile soap, made with organic carrier oils, is a gentle and natural choice. Perfect for those with sensitive skin or a preference for avoiding harsh chemicals. Castile soap does not "kill" germs as antibacterial soaps do, but rather works to bind with the germs to get rid of them.

Hand Sanitizer – Pros and Cons

While soap and water are the clear winner for heavy-duty cleaning, hand sanitizer has its strengths as well.


  • Convenience: A quick squirt and rub is all it takes! Perfect for on-the-go situations or when a sink isn't readily available.

  • Speed Demon: In a pinch, hand sanitizer can act fast to kill germs, especially those susceptible to alcohol (the most common ingredient in hand sanitizer).


  • Anti-bacterial soaps contain chemical antimicrobial agents like Triclosan and Benzethonium chloride. These kill, but don't remove contagions.

  • Drying: Frequent use of hand sanitizers can disrupt the natural oils on your skin, leading to dryness, irritation, and even cracking. This can be especially problematic for people with sensitive skin. Castile soap, with its gentle formula, can help alleviate this issue.

  • Potential for Alcohol Poisoning (Especially for Kids): Accidental ingestion of hand sanitizer, especially by young children, can be dangerous due to the alcohol content. Keep hand sanitizers out of reach of children and supervise their use.

  • Doesn't Remove Dirt and Grime: For hands visibly soiled with grease, grime, or dirt, hand sanitizer just won't cut it. Soap and water are essential for removing these physical contaminants.

When to Use Each

Think of soap and sanitizer as partners, not rivals! Here's a quick guide:

  • Lather Up: Always wash with soap and water when your hands are visibly dirty, greasy, or after using the restroom and before eating.

  • Sanitize Away: Use hand sanitizer in between hand washing, especially when you're out and about and don't have access to soap and water.

Whole Naturals Castile Soap: Your Natural Choice for Hand washing

Speaking of soap, let's talk Castile Soap! Whole Naturals Castile soap isn't just for hands! You can use it as a body wash, face wash, or even a natural cleaning solution. Made with organic carrier oils, it's a gentle yet effective way to keep your hands clean. It's easy to take in small containers when you're on the go!

Castile Soap on the Go

The next time you reach for hand hygiene, remember: soap and water are the ultimate tag team for deep cleaning, while hand sanitizer is a trusty sidekick for on-the-go situations. For a gentle, natural clean that doesn't compromise on effectiveness, consider incorporating Whole Naturals into your lifestyle routine!


Yohan and alex founders whole Naturals castile soap

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