The best way to avoid becoming sick is to wash your hands with soap and water. Disease causing bacteria and viruses are everywhere and we can’t go through life without touching contaminated surfaces. Dirty hands don’t cause disease, but touching your nose, eyes or mouth will deposit the germs directly to a surface that will allow infection. Don’t think you touch your nose, hands or mouth? Just watch someone else for a few minutes and see how often his hand comes to the face.
A word about hand sanitizers: These waterless cleansers can be convenient, but are designed to kill surface bacteria -- not to remove dust and dirt, which may contain body secretions (full of bacteria and viruses). Washing with soap and water, on the other hand, kills bacteria and more thoroughly removes grime from hands to reducer any toxic exposures.
The best product for home use is conventional soap and water. The main reason to avoid anti-bacterial soaps is its active ingredient: triclosan (and the related triclocarbon). Triclosan is an anti-bacterial chemical found in many consumer products, and it's nearly ubiquitous in liquid hand soap.
In other words, we are continually exposed to triclosan. The problem is that triclosan may not be safe. In animal studies it has been shown to interfere with the regulation of thyroid hormones (affecting metabolism and brain development), testosterone synthesis (decreasing sperm counts) and estrogen action (causing early onset of puberty). Exposure to triclosan has been shown to weaken heart muscle, impairing contractions and reducing heart function, and to weaken skeletal muscle, reducing grip strength. In aquatic environments fish exposed to triclosan were unable to swim properly.
A tip: wash your hands like you mean it. The water doesn’t have to be hot but you should wash for thirty seconds, about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.” Sing and wash away – “Happy Birthday” is no longer under copyright.
An opinion from the Smithsonian.