Why is washing hands so important?
Washing your hands is the most critically important thing you can do to protect yourself against COVID-19 and that is because you can pick it up from surfaces.
You don’t get it from the air around you. You might get it from being close to somebody with it, and their droplets hit you and that sort of close contact over a period of time, but just the general air you don’t.
You get it from touching a surface, touching your face, and you get it. So washing your hands is really important, and washing your hands with soap and water is really important.
Hand sanitisers are ok if that’s all you’ve got.
The key thing about soap is that soap breaks down fat and the virus is surrounded by fat.
So when you actually wash with soap the soap itself destroys the virus. And also gets rid of the fat surface from your skin, which is where the virus lives. So for 2 reasons, good old fashioned soap and water is the best thing you can do for 20 seconds.
But if you’re out and about and you’ve got nothing else, then hand sanitiser is fine.
Last Reviewed: 17/01/2021
Your Doctor. Dr Michael Jones, Medical Editor.