Ho Ching shares super useful info on hand hygiene to fight Covid-19; Temasek has sanitisers for all households

By March 16, 2020Current

TL;DR – Ho Ching shares that Temasek Foundation and its partners have been working hard to bring hand sanitisers to every household during the week of 23 March.

Mdm Ho Ching posted a very loooooong post on Facebook this morning. Hehe, this is in sharp contrast with how she usually just reshares article links without saying anything or much.

Anyway, the post is chock-a-block with very useful information, really educational, so I recommend that you spare the time to read it.

Many of us may have been using alcohol based sanitizers for some time by now, bcos of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Frequent use for hand sanitising can lead to drying of our hands.

This can cause cracks in the more sensitive skin. Applying more alcohol sanitiser becomes very painful. Skin cracks also open the way for germs to get in if we stop using alcohol sanitizers from the pain.

Some people may also be allergic to particular types or formulations of alcohol sanitizers.


So the first preference is to use soap and water to wash our hands regularly.

Soap has ingredients like sodium lauryl ether sulphate which loves both water and oily stuff.

How does that work?

Coronaviruses belong to a group of viruses called enveloped viruses. These include the common cold viruses as well.

Enveloped viruses are physically fragile viruses – break apart its envelope or membrane, and it is disabled and no longer can infect.

Soap does that.

But it takes a bit of time to do this

So lather our hands for at least 20 seconds, and rinse away the broken viral bits in the lather.

Do this before leaving home or work place.

Do this upon arrival at home and at workplace.

It is a form of simple but very useful firebreaks to prevent germs from being carries from home to work, or from work to home. And also from public places to either workplace or home, and vice versa.

It is what hospitals do, even in normal times.

The hand sanitizers outside each ward or room, and at the foot of the patient’s beds are for this purpose.

Doctors and nurses sanitise their hands before entering a ward.

They wash or sanitise their hands again after seeing a patient before they see the next patients.

This keeps cross infections down.

When we do this before leaving our home or workplace, and again upon arriving home or at workplace, we are practising segregation of germs, and help to reduce cross infections between different places in the public domain.

And don’t forget to wash our hands before meals, and after using the toilet.


If we are using alcohol sanitizers, remember to use hand moisturizers at least once a day.

Doing this before going to bed is the best time to do so. It is also most practical, even if our alcohol based sanitizers have moisturisers.

Wash our hands with soap and water, and apply hand moisturiser before going to sleep.


Apart from soap and water, or alcohol based sanitizers, there are also non-alcohol based sanitizers which can work.

The benzalkonium chloride at 0.05% can be an option to be considered against the coronavirus.

Commercial BKC sanitizers typically have 0.13% to 0.3% concentration. The 0.13% formulation are for foam, gel or liquid sanitizers, and the 0.26~0.3% are typically for wet wipes.

BKC is hand and child friendly. It does not stain, and more importantly is not flammable and not corrosive.

It is also wound friendly for small cuts, scratches and abrasions.

Temasek Foundation has been distributing both alcohol based as well as the water-based BKC sanitizers.

The 1st wave that they sourced was the alcohol based sanitizers. These include plant based ethanol sanitizers, which may be friendlier for those who have more sensitive skins.

At the same time, Temasek Foundation and its partners began to explore BKC sanitizers for a friendlier solution for broader longer term use.

They have been working hard, and is ready to roll out to deliver 500ml to every household during the week of 23 March.

Please watch for more news this week, and check your mailbox by this weekend.


As with all sanitizers, some people may be sensitive to the active ingredient, or to other ingredients in the formulation.

Sanitizer manufacturers often add other ingredients in the form of moisturizers, fragrances, coloring, surfactants, etc.

So do watch out if we develop rashes or redness from frequent use, and switch other alternatives.

First, for most sanitizers, we need to make sure our hands are visibly clean. Alcohol-based sanitizers for instance, do not cut through grime or dirt.

Next, we need to rub all over our hands for 20 seconds, the same way as we would lather our hands for 20 seconds. So use enough sanitizers to do that.

Sanitizers often have instructions to rub dry.

It is an indirect way to help ensure we “lather” our hands with the sanitizer, and spend enough time to winkle out the germs hiding in the tiny folds in our hands, and give time for the sanitizer to destroy the germs.

So these are common steps whichever sanitizers we are using.

If we wish, we can also alternate the use of alcohol based and BKC based sanitizers. For instance, use alcohol santizers when we arrive home, and remember to moisturise our hand before bed. And use carry a small bottle of BKC to use through the day.

We can also use BKC sanitizers to wipe down door knobs, and other hard surfaces.


Alcohol based sanitizers are highly flammable.

They have 60-70% alcohol content, and catches fire easily.


Don’t use alcohol based sanitizers while you are lighting up a cigarette.

Don’t use alcohol based sanitizers in kitchens or barbecue pits.


Don’t let children use alcohol based sanitizers without supervision – there have been cases of alcohol poisoning in the USA and elsewhere when kids drank the alcohol based sanitizers.

Alcohol based sanitizers can have either type of alcohol – ethanol or isopropanol.

Isopropanol is an industrial cleaning alcohol. It is poisonous and not meant for drinking.

Even ethanol-based sanitizers often contain other ingredients, to make it undrinkable.


There are other disinfectants which may be considered. But these must be used appropriately with care.

Everyone knows the dangers of bleaches. So skip this for hand sanitizing.

Formaldehyde is another unsuitable disinfectant for hand sanitizing.

The chloroxylenol is useable, but don’t use it if you have small pets at home, as it can be dangerous to small animals like cats and dogs.

The iodine based disinfectants like povidone-iodine or iodine in iodophor, are quite safe. They are used in mouth gargles, and for cleaning our skins before surgery.

A dilution of 0.23% povidone-iodine has been tested good in one study against coronaviruses like MERS and SARS (and other respiratory pathogens or germs).

So we can use as a gentle gargle (30 seconds) or as a hand sanitizer. Just be aware that it stains, and we should avoid eating for half hour if we gargle with povidone-iodine.

One other advantage for povidone-iodine is it has persistence or residual effect.

It stains brown and the disinfectant 10% formulation persists for 8 hours.

This is why it is a hospital disinfectant for surgery. The surgical team can see clearly which area of the skin has been disinfected, and its disinfection lasts 8 hours, long enough for most surgeries.

Temasek Foundation’s #BYOBclean exercise (via FB)

Temasek’s #BYOBclean initiative

Other than supporting Singaporeans who work in the frontline as well as local communities in need with hand sanitisers, it looks like Temasek will also be sponsoring the distribution of hand sanitisers to our households. More info will be released regarding this initiative to Bring Your Own Bottle for the hand sanitisers.

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From Mdm Ho Ching’s and also Temasek’s Facebook posts, I think we can expect to receive the details in our mailbox soon, and this #BYOBclean exercise should be happening at community centres as well as CapitaLand malls.


Here, their earlier effort to pack hand sanitisers for our frontline workers.


And from frontline workers, Temasek expanded their programme to also help local communities in need.


Check our more #BYOBclean photos from Temasek’s Facebook account here.



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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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