Does Hand Sanitizer Replace Soap & Water?
By: Brittney Grooms
Hand sanitizers can reduce the amount of germs on our skin but they aren’t perfect…
How Effective Are They Really?
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be a useful resource when a sink and soap are nowhere to be found. While they are able to quickly reduce the number of microbes on the hands in many instances, sanitizers cannot kill every type of germ. This includes certain types of hearty viruses, such as norovirus, which causes viral gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu ☹.
Sanitizers are also unable to effectively sterilize hands when dirt or other particles are present. This is one reason why they aren’t a good option during food preparation, when water, food, blood and fatty materials are more likely to present on a person’s hands. Hand sanitizers are also unable to remove harmful chemicals, such as heavy metals and pesticides, from hands.
Why Handwashing Works Better
When performed with patience and good technique, handwashing is the best way to eliminate germs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, proper handwashing technique should include the following five-step process:
- Wet your hands with running water; shut off the tap and apply soap.
- Lather your hands by rubbing them together, paying special attention to the backs of the hands, the areas between fingers and beneath fingernails.
- Scrub your hands for no less than 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands beneath running water.
- Allow your hands to dry in the air or use a clean towel.
***You should also be careful not to contaminate your hands by touching tainted objects when leaving public restrooms.
When Should You Use Sanitizers?
If you don’t have access to soap or a sink, you can use hand sanitizers to kill as many germs as possible. Just make sure you choose a sanitizer that has at least a 60-percent alcohol content. You should also avoid using hand sanitizer if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
Just in case you do happen to pick up a nasty germ and are in need of medical attention…remember we are here Monday-Saturday 8 am to 8 pm with no appointment needed, just come on in.