Often, the public blurs the line between hand sanitizers and soaps, but in reality, there are drastic differences and a proper hand washing program requires the use of both.

The major difference between soaps and sanitizers is that soaps are detergents that are meant to remove dirt and grime from soiled surfaces. According to the Mayo Clinic, soap molecules bind to particles on the hands and remove them from the skin. But, when used alone, soap has a limited effect on microorganisms, which is where sanitizers come in.

Hand sanitizers are designed for use after washing hands or for those times when soap and water are not available. They are gels, sprays or wipes that contain alcohol in order to kill the germs and bacteria present on the skin.

Hand sanitizers are not cleaning agents and are not meant as a replacement for soap and water, but the use of sanitizers will complement any hand washing program.