Is hand sanitizer or hand-washing more effective for young children?

Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses what parents should know about a new study that found young children who cleaned their hands with sanitizer instead of soap reduced their risk of certain infections.
3:22 | 10/09/18

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Transcript for Is hand sanitizer or hand-washing more effective for young children?
All right, Lara, thank you. We move to our "Gma" cover story as we head into flu season. There is a new study about keeping germs away. Taking a closer look at whether soap and water or hand sanitizer works better. So I'll scoot over here to Dr. Jen Ashton. How are you? Aisle good. How are you? I'm good. It was done in Spain, toddlers and day care settings, about 900 divided them up into groups that used soap and water, alcohol based hand sanitizers and then a third group that did their own thing and followed them over that season for respiratory infections. Guess who came out the winner? The hand sanitizer group. So, again, we hear this perennial debate what is better. I want to be crystal clear, they are both important, they both work. But you don't always have a sick nearby and you don't always have hand sanitizer so this study was pretty interesting. So break it down a little more. There are some limitations when it comes to hand sanitizer. When you talk about little kids in particular, the CDC last year came out with pretty staggering numbers that a lot of young children were poisoned inadvertently by using them because they can put it in their mouth and drink it and put it in their eyes so you have to supervise it. Obviously like anything, too much can be dangerous and very, very important, robin, we'll hear a lot about the flu this season. We can't forget about that dreaded norovirus, the G.I. Flu so-called. That is not killed by alcohol-based hand sanitizers so if that's going through your school, job, home, you have to use soap and water. Good old soap and water. That's right. All right. So here's the thing with soap and water. We hear it all the time but most people, adults and children, don't do it correctly. So we have a little -- Andre, where is Andre? My friend Andre. How are you, big guy? So Andre is 5. About the cutest 5-year-old I've ever seen so you'll start. 20 seconds. That's the time that -- 20 seconds of time or singing "Happy birthday" twice, you can do whatever you want. Go ahead and start washing your hands and tell you something important. If you use soap and water. Go ahead, big guy. She's doing awesome. You are the cutest. So, I want to just tell you, robin, whether you're an adult or child you need to vigorously move your hands together to kill bacteria and use water that's hot enough and you need to do it for 20 seconds or sing "Happy birthday" twice, when you're finished, Andre, go ahead and wrap it up. Here's the important thing. Here's the important thing, go ahead and shut the water off, big guy. See what Andre just did. He did a great job cleaning his hands and contaminated with a dirty handle so here's what I want to teach you, Andre and everyone watching at home. When you're done, grab a paper towel, shut off the sink like that and if there's none available use our elbow, you don't want to undo all of that. You're awesome. Also, in a public restroom, take it and -- Get out the door with your elbow. Here you go, elbow bump. Elbow bump. Give me some. Nice job, Andre. Thank you. So happy birthday twice. You have to do it long enough, hot enough and then the elbow. All right.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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