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Digging Deeper

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

What do you really know about hand sanitizer?

Have you ever touched a doorknob or the steering wheel in your car and then began to eat something? Well, there are thousands of germs that can transfer from that door knob/steering wheel to your hands. It can then get into your mouth or into the hands of another person through a handshake. As the healthy and clean movement continues to grow we are now more aware of how important it is to wash our hands.

Every year we are put on high alert about catching the flu and the need to cut down on transmission of viruses and bacteria through hand contact.

People go back and forth between whether hand sanitizer or hand washing is more effective. We do know that hand sanitizer is a quick and efficient way to eliminate germs, but what else should we know?

Hand sanitizer is a hand antiseptic that comes in the form of a gel, foam or liquid with the active ingredient isopropyl alcohol or ethanol. Alcohol-bases hand sanitizers can be more effective at killing microorganisms than soap and it has not been proven that natural remedies can be as effective.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends an alcohol concentration of 60% to 95% to be really effective. A 70% alcohol concentration kills 99.9% of the bacteria on hands 30 seconds after application and 99.99% in one minute. According to the National Center for Biotechnology (NCBI), “Hand sanitizers were effective in reducing gastrointestinal illnesses in households, in curbing absentee rates in elementary schools, and in reducing illnesses in university dormitories.

Hand sanitizers do serve its purpose, but can hand sanitizers be harmful?

If ingested, hand sanitizer can cause serious harm; this is especially true for small children. It’s best to keep it out of reach and supervise its use.

Your body’s immune system needs to “practice” fighting and it can’t do so in extremely clean environments. It’s also important to remember that alcohol can be very drying, so it’s best to use hand sanitizer sparingly.

Hand sanitizers can be seen in grocery stores, gas pumps and amusement parks. For those places where water is not readily available such as porta potties, it makes more sense to use hand sanitizer than not.

When it comes to keeping clean, choose thorough hand washing first and hand sanitizers whenever necessary.