Washing your hands with warm water and soap will always remain the gold standard for hand hygiene that can help slow the spread of infectious diseases. This is because washing your hands with warm water (not cold) and soap is the most efficient way to remove oils from our hands, oils that can harbor viral microbes.
Hand sanitizers have made their way into the healthcare scene because they can also protect you against disease-causing particles, especially in situations where warm water and soap aren’t readily accessible. Hand sanitizers are proven to be an effective way to reduce the number (and type) of microbes we carry around.
There are two main types of hand sanitizers – alcohol-free and alcohol-based.
Alcohol-free hand sanitizers contain quarternary ammonium compounds instead of alcohol, most notably benzalkonium chloride. They can reduce the amount of microbes, but they are less effective than alcohol-based sanitizers.
Alcohol-based sanitizers contain varying amounts and types of alcohol, often between 60 and 95 percent and usually ethanol (ethyl alcohol) that is well known to be able to kill most germs.
Not only are alcohol-based hand sanitizers more effective at killing many types of bacteria, they’re also effective against viruses such as influenza A, hepatitis A, as well as the novel coronavirus.
Alcohol-based sanitizers can eliminate most of the microbes on your hands in some situations, but sanitizers can’t eliminate all types of germs.
Soap and water are much more effective than hand sanitizers when it comes to removing a certain kind of germ, such as norovirus or Cryptosporidium. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactive the majority of microbes when used correctly, people sometimes won’t use large enough volume or may wipe it off before it has dried completely.
If warm water and soap are not readily available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Many studies have found that a concentration between 60 and 95 percent is more effective at killing germs than those with lower alcohol concentration.
Hand sanitizers may be less effective if your hands are dirty or greasy.
Many studies have concluded that hand sanitizers work well in clinical settings such as hospitals, where hands can come into contact with germs but they won’t typically be dirty, soiled, or greasy.
Some data also shows that hand sanitizers may not work well against specific germ types on slightly soiled hands. If your hands become greasy in a public setting, by things such as eating food or playing sports, then a hand sanitizer would not be the best option for you in this situation. Instead, handwashing with warm water and soap is the most preferred option in these circumstances.
Hand sanitizers may not remove harmful chemicals from your hands.
Although there are very few studies conducted, hand sanitizers have been shown to be ineffective at removing or inactivating many types of harmful chemicals such as heavy metals or pesticides from your hands. In one study, people who used hand sanitizer to clean their hands had an even higher levels of pesticides in their bodies.
If your hands have come into contact with harmful chemicals, wash carefully with warm water and soap.
What does the CDC recommend?
The CDC recommends that you should stick to washing your hands with warm water and soap whenever possible because washing your hands reduces the amounts of every type of germ and chemical on your hands.
However, if water and soap are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. This will help you avoid spreading germs to others and getting sick yourself. The guidance for effective handwashing and the correct use of hand sanitizers that has been developed by the CDC will help you identify what you need to do to ensure yourself the highest degree of protection.
How do we apply hand sanitizer correctly?
When you’re using a hand sanitizer, simply apply a small portion of the product to the palm of your hand. You can identify the correct amount on the label. Then, rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands continuously until your hands become dry.
The steps for proper use of a hand sanitizer are based on simplified procedures recommended by the CDC. Make sure to cover all surfaces of both your hands with hand sanitizer, as well as rub it in your hands carefully.
Where to buy hand sanitizers?
If you’re looking to buy alcohol-based hand sanitizers:
Browse Clinical Supplies USA’s collection of hand sanitizers in our store here.
If you’re looking to purchase wholesale hand sanitizers for sale/distribution to your local community:
Reach out to us and inquire for any purchase above 2,000 units here.
Clinical Supplies USA is an American co-owned and run company specializing in providing quality protective supplies such as KN95 and 3ply masks, hand sanitizers, face shields, gloves, and more.