Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

The importance of soap selection for routine hand hygiene in hospital

J. Ojajärvia1

a1 The Department of Public Health Science, University of Helsinki, Haartmaninkatu 3, 00290 Helsinki 29, Finland


Five different types of liquid soap were studied in hospital wards, each during two months' use. Altogether 1306 finger print samples were taken from the hands of the staff by sampling twice a week and the acceptability of the soaps was measured by a questionnaire. During the use of different soaps only slight differences were found in the numbers of total bacteria or in the occurrence of Staph. aureus and gram-negative bacilli on the hands. During the use of the emulsion-type product studied, several persons who had dermatological problems had lower mean bacterial counts of the fingers than during the use of the other soaps. This soap was also favourably accepted by the staff. After over one year's use of pine oil soap and alcohol, the staff of the hospital was satisfied with the method. However, several persons with skin problems admitted to not using soap or alcohol. The considerable differences found in the acceptability of soaps imply that for use in hospital the choice of a soap acceptable to the nursing staff is important in promoting proper hand hygiene.

(Received July 10 1980)