Hand cleaning with ash for reducing the spread of viral and bacterial infections: effects are uncertain

Added April 29, 2020

Citation: Paludan-Müller AS, Boesen K, Klerings I, et al. Hand cleaning with ash for reducing the spread of viral and bacterial infections: a rapid review. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2020; (4): CD013597

What is this? Physical interventions, such as hand washing, should interrupt or reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, in some settings, there are barriers to washing hands with soap and water and ash, the residue from stoves and fires, is sometimes used for cleaning hands if soap is not widely available.

In this Cochrane Rapid Review, the authors searched for all types of study that had examined hand cleaning with ash compared to hand cleaning with any other material. They did their search on 26 March 2020 and included 14 studies, 6 of which reported outcome data relevant to their review. The research included randomized trial (1 study), non-randomised trials (5), cross-sectional studies (4), prospective cohort studies (3) and case-control study (1). A podcast for the review is available here.

What was found: At the time of this review, the available research shows that the benefits and harms of hand cleaning with ash compared with soap or other materials are uncertain for reducing the spread of viral or bacterial infections.


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