New Brunswick, N.J. (March 22, 2020) – Rutgers scholar Donald Schaffner,  an expert on microbial risk and handwashing, and the lead author of a 2017 study that found washing hands with cool water is just as effective as washing with hot water to remove pathogens, is available to comment on whether handwashing or hand sanitizer are better for preventing COVID-19. 

“Soap is often recommended over hand sanitizer because it dislodges dirt as well as many pathogens – but the available research suggests that both soap and sanitizer are highly effective at removing harmful viruses, so long as you use one or the other regularly and properly. Everyone should use all the tools at their disposal to stay healthy,” Schaffner said. 

While specific information is not available about SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Schaffner pointed to a previous non-Rutgers study that looked at the effectiveness of disinfectants against the related coronavirus that causes SARS. The researchers found that alcohol-based hand rubs killed 99.99 percent or as much as 99.999 percent of SARS viruses, to the point that they became undetectable. 

Schaffner, a Distinguished Professor and extension specialist in food science at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, also offers advice on the best ways to kill coronavirus in the home, as well as advice for cleaning touchscreens and other essential items.





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