Handwashing vs. Hand Sanitizer Monday September 9, 2013 Frequent hand washing with soap and water is the best way to decrease the number of germs on hands and one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. According to the Center for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC), a good alternative when soap and water is not readily available is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number germs on the hands. If hands are visibly soiled, soap and water is the best first choice. Hand sanitizers are not as effective when hands are visibly dirty.