Washing hands with soap and water whenever possible reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available, which type of sanitizer should you use?
Many studies have found that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Hand sanitizers without 60-95% alcohol 1) may not work equally well for many types of germs; and 2) merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright.
To prevent alcohol from drying up the skin, moisturizers are added in small traces to the sanitizers. It is mostly because water helps the ingredients penetrate the skin more easily.
When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry. Generally, apply the liquid to the palm of one hand. Then rub it all over both hands until the sanitizer dries. This takes about 20 seconds. Be careful not to wipe the sanitizer off before it’s dry. Doing that can make it not as effective in killing germs.
There are many times you should use a hand sanitizer, such as before and after touching a surface other people have touched. It’s good to wipe down the handle of a shopping cart before you use it. It’s also wise to use sanitizer after you’ve pushed a cart around the store, after filling your vehicle with fuel, after handling money, and after touching elevator buttons or door handles. Always wash your hands (with either soap and water or hand sanitizer) after each time you cough and sneeze.
Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning. Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)-based hand sanitizers are safe when used as directed, but they can cause alcohol poisoning if a person swallows more than a couple of mouthfuls.