It’s all about the soap: Hand washing, not alcohol rubs, recommended to prevent spread of enterovirus

Contact: Jill Jess Phythyon, 614-688-1062,


In recent years, alcohol-based antiviral rubs have become the go-to for hand hygiene and combating illness. With perfumed scents and cutesy carriers, they’re even considered chi-chi among trendy tweens.

However, an expert at The Ohio State University says that such rubs are no help against the recent outbreak of enterovirus EV-D68, which has sent children to hospitals in several Midwestern states.

Timothy F. Landers, assistant professor in the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar, is a hand-hygiene researcher. He recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds to help prevent the spread of this enterovirus.

“The goal of soap is to remove the oils and the virus from the hands, not to kill the virus,” Landers said.

Landers works with a lab at the College of Nursing and focuses on infection prevention efforts.

He also recommends practicing proper cough etiquette, staying home if you have symptoms, drying hands with paper towels and using a paper towel when turning on and off the sink.

Additionally, focus on areas between fingers and the tips of fingers while washing, as these are often forgotten and can come in contact with germs.

Landers recommends liquid soap, as opposed to bar soap, which can harbor bacteria.

"One of the best things we can do to stay healthy is what we learned as kids -- wash our hands!"  


NOTE TO REPORTERS, ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: The lab at the College of Nursing offers the opportunity for members of the media to have their hands tested for bacteria – excellent visuals are available.