Hydroalcoholic gel vs. hand washing with soap: which use to adopt?

hydroalcoholic gel panier des sens

In this period of the Covid-19/Coronavirus epidemic, the use of hydroalcoholic solution vs. hand washing with soap has often been controversial. Is hydroalcoholic gel more effective than washing with soap and water to disinfect our hands? Is it harmful to our skin? Does it effectively protect us from the risks of contamination? When and how should it be used? How to choose it well? These are the questions that come up most often.

Find out in this article all you need to know about hydroalcoholic gel and the differences between it and a classic hand wash with soap.

hand washing soap


80% of infectious diseases are transmitted by hand, through contact with contaminated objects and contact with the eyes, face or mouth. Washing hands with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent infection. According to the WHO, the recommended hand washing time is 40 to 60 seconds (30 seconds minimum). Liquid soap is recommended over solid soap because the latter tends to accumulate many microbes.

The soap allows to wash and thus to eliminate all the risks of various dirtinesses which can remain on the surface of the hands in spite of the use of a hydroalcoholic solution. Hand washing remains the first barrier against viruses and bacteriaBut be careful, it is only effective if you do it correctly.

A good wash consists of rubbing your hands for a minimum of 30 seconds:

  • Palm against palm,
  • The back of the hands and the back of the fingers,
  • Between the fingers,
  • Thumbs,
  • Fingertips and nails,
  • Wrists.

Drying hands with a single-use towel is an essential step. The more you limit contact with objects that have been in contact with other people, the better you limit the risk of contamination.

hydro gel


It is important to keep in mind that hydroalcoholic gel does not "disinfect" hands. According to the WHO, it is only an alternative solution when there is no water available nearby.

Hydroalcoholic gel has bactericidal, virucidal and fungicidal priorities that enable it to eliminate most bacteria and viruses on the skin, but never all of them. Some dirt, even microscopic, can remain on the surface of the hands despite the use of a gel. This allows the virus, if contact is made afterwards, to settle more easily on the skin. However, hydroalcoholic gel remains an alternative solution in many situations. This is why it is essential to know how to choose it.

hydroalcoholic hand gel
Here are the different criteria to take into account when choosing a good hydroalcoholic gel:

  • Opt for a product containing between 60% and 70% alcohol,
  • Do not use gel containing triclosan (an endocrine disruptor).

The hydroalcoholic gel is applied only on clean and dry hands, not soiled and without wounds. A complete drying by friction of the hands is necessary during 30 seconds not to decrease its effectiveness.

An intensive use of hydroalcoholic gel can cause an irritation of the hands because of the presence of alcohol on the skin. Sensitive and reactive skin (e.g. eczema-prone) tends to be less tolerant of this type of product.

Some scented versions (part of the "Cosmetic" category) may contain allergens. Their function is to clean the hands, but they cannot guarantee and claim bactericidal and virucidal activity, even if the formulas are generally the same. It will be necessary in all the cases to make sure that the percentage of alcohol contained in the formula is well superior to 60%.

The use of the hydroalcoholic gel cannot be the only solution for a good hygiene of the hands, to protect you and the others. Hand washing with soap allows a good disinfection of the hands and limits the propagation of the virus by eliminating all the risks of transmission.

liquid soap from Provence
Discover our liquid soaps and all our fragrances: Resourcing Grape, Soothing Almond, Regenerating Honey, Orange Blossom, Rose, etc.

Hydroalcoholic gel is a complementary or alternative solution when you cannot wash your hands with soap and water. Hydroalcoholic gel with an alcohol base of less than 60% is not effective against resistant viruses and bacteria. They reduce germs, but do not kill them completely. The right choice of hydroalcoholic gel is therefore essential!

Discover the alternatives Panier des Sens with our new hydroalcoholic lotion in pump bottle and refillable canister, recommended by the WHO, it contains 64% alcohol. The clean hand gel with the sweet scent of Provence with its nomadic format in 40ml tube will be available in July.