Because colds and the flu are easily spread, everyone should always wash their hands before eating and after going outside. Ordinary soap is sufficient. Waterless hand cleaners that contain an alcohol-based gel are also effective for everyday use and may even kill cold viruses.
Antibacterial soaps add little protection, particularly against viruses. In fact, one study suggests that common liquid dish washing soaps are up to 100 times more effective than antibacterial soaps in killing respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is known to cause pneumonia. Wiping surfaces with a solution that contains one part bleach to 10 parts water is very effective in killing viruses. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are very effective, as mentioned above, and are recommended by the CDC.
Colds are not caused by insufficiently warm clothes or by going outside with wet hair.
Review Date: 01/29/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.