We all understand the importance of regular handwashing; it not only keeps our hands clean but also prevents the spread of infectious agents with whom we would have come in contact. However, when water and soap are not available, public health experts emphasize on an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as the next best option.
But have we ever thought about how effective these gel and liquid-based sanitizers are when it comes to getting rid of germs and bacteria? Here are the important things that we should know about hand sanitizers:
In certain situations, hand sanitizers outperform regular water and soap:
There is a common notion that hand sanitizers should only be used as a backup of soap and water. When you can’t find clean water and soap, hand sanitizer can come to the rescue.
However, the CDC recommends the use of hand sanitizers as first preference in certain situations like visiting hospitals and nursing homes. Few drops of a good hand sanitizer reduce the likelihood of you getting introduced to harmful germs. Also, people who have a weakened immune system should use hand sanitizers regularly while interacting with others.
Homemade hand sanitizers are a waste of energy and money:
These days, the internet is flooded with recipes of homemade hand sanitizers. However, the Food and Drug Association, FDA, which regulars hand sanitizers have declared that these homemade sanitizers are ineffective and can do worse than any good.
Application of homemade sanitizers can result in skin irritation or burns.
Note: By adding rubbing alcohol to a non-alcoholic hand sanitize will not result in a more effective product.
Hand Sanitizer Kill Germs:
Opposite to the normal belief, soap and water only remove the germs from your hands. However, the effectiveness of soap and water boils down to the right process of handwashing.
On the other hand, alcohol-based hand sanitizers kill germs on the skin. Though, hand sanitizers don’t work well on dirty, greasy hands or harmful chemicals like pesticides and heavy metals like lead.
All Hand Sanitizers are not Equal:
According to the CDC, hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% of alcohol content is effective in killing most disease-causing germs. Non-alcoholic sanitizers or the ones with a lesser amount of alcohol may not work well for many types of germs and bacteria.
Hence, choosing alcohol-based sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content can ensure safety against most of the germs and bacteria.
Hand Sanitization Techniques Matter:
Just like hand cleaning process with water and soap, sanitization with hand sanitizers also boils down to the way the sanitizer is being used. Hand sanitizers work best when used correctly.
Below is the infographic that shows how to clean your hands properly with hand sanitizer.
Hand Sanitizers can be dangerous:
Hand sanitizers can be highly dangerous if ingested. They can irritate the lining of the throat and cause gastrointestinal issues. Ingesting only a small amount sanitizer can lead to alcohol poisoning.
Also, as hand sanitizers are flammable, it is advised to store and use them in a safe place away from all the possible sources of ignition.
There are no substitutes for hand sanitizers:
These days, people are using disinfectant sprays and antibacterial wipes as a replacement of hand sanitizers. The use of bleach on food products and disinfectant products on the skin has become very common. However, the FDA recommends otherwise. According to the FDA, these products are meant for hard and nonporous surfaces and should not be used on consumable products and human skin.