Based on studies
We all know that handwashing can reduce the number of chemicals and germs on our hands. Soap and water are still the best way to wash your hands!
However, if it is not available, a hand sanitizer can help you stay healthy and not spread germs to others. Believe it or not – these facts and the guidance for effective handwashing and sanitizers were based on data from several scientific studies.
Let’s look at five scientific facts about hand sanitizer that you might not know about.
Five fantastic facts
- Sanitizers do not eliminate all germs.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can incapacitate many types of microbes effectively. Still, people usually do not use enough or wipe off the sanitizer before it has a chance to do its work. As a result, common germs such as Norovirus, Cryptosporidium and Clostridium Difficile can still cling stubbornly.
- Hand sanitizer is not best for heavily soiled hands.
Hand sanitizers work well in clinical settings where hands are not overly greasy or heavily soiled. However, after people play sports, work in the garden, or go fishing, it is best to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water to remove all germs.
Soap and water do not necessarily kill the germs, but they remove them. The rubbing and scrubbing loosen the germs from your skin, and when you rinse your hands, the germs go down the drain. On the other hand, when used effectively, sanitizers kill most germs on the skin – especially the coronavirus.
- Harmful chemicals
Studies show that hand sanitizers cannot remove pesticides and heavy metals.
- Hand sanitizers should have at least 60% alcohol content to be effective.
Research shows that sanitizers with an alcohol content between 60% and 95% are best. A lesser concentration of alcohol will only reduce germ growth and not kill the critters outright.
- Use sanitizer correctly
You should rub hand sanitizer all over your hands and let it sit until your hands are dry. If the sanitizer evaporates within 15 seconds, you did not use enough. The World Health Organization recommends a coin-sized amount of gel – enough to rub between your fingers and cover both sides of the hands.
Frequently asked questions about hand washing.
- What about antibacterial soap? Studies have not found added benefits in using antibacterial soap. In fact, the experts say they are no better than plain soap.
- Is bar soap better than liquid soap?Both formats work well.
- Should I use warm water?Water can kill germs, but only if it is scalding hot. In everyday settings, however, cold and warm water remove the same number of germs from your hands.
- Can I make my own hand sanitizer at home?We don't recommend you do so. To make hand sanitizer, one must work under sterile conditions and use the right ingredients. If made incorrectly, hand sanitizer can be harmful and cause skin burns or other health problems.
So, what is our verdict?
Use hand sanitizer responsibly.
Hand sanitizers have their place. It kills germs, but only if used correctly and with the correct alcohol concentration.
During the pandemic, most of us came to rely on hand sanitizer to protect us on the go. There was nothing wrong with it! In places where there is a lot of foot traffic, like airports, germs can spread quickly. Having hand sanitizers available is terrific for these setups.
However, when in doubt, good old-fashioned handwashing is still the best.
The Refreshed Traveler has different great options for hand sanitizers when clean, running water is unavailable. It is part of our mission to keep you safe!