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Do instant hand sanitizers work?

Are instant hand sanitizers really effective?

4546 day(s) ago

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Yes, but only if they are formulated and used correctly.

True hand sanitizer needs to be at least 60% isopropyl alcohol, while sanitizer used for medical care typically contains 80-95% alcohol. Alcohol mixed with chlorhexidine is more effective than alcohol alone. Chlorhexidine is sold under several brand names, but its generic name should be included in the list of active ingredients.

Hand sanitizer does not destroy viruses and bacteria nor increase the risk of disease by disrupting the lipid layer on the skin. Hand washing is far more disruptive. Instead, the alcohol and chlorohexidine disrupt the membrane in both bacteria and viruses.

Alcohol-free sanitizers typically use either benzalkonium chloride and triclosan. Both have been proven to be far less effective than alcohol solutions. The FDA recently announced that they are reviewing triclosan as it may cause hormone disruction.

To apply, put enough sanitizer on your palms to make them wet, then rub it across your hands for at least thirty seconds. This covers your skin with enough alcohol to effectively disinfect your hands. It will not remove other materials that can serve as a growth medium, like fecal matter, dirt, or blood. These can be a source of new bacteria after sanitizer use.

So, to sum up:

Buy sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol and contains chlorhexidine.

Apply enough to cover your palms and rub for at least 30 seconds.

If you have something on your hands, you still need to wash them.

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