June 12th, 2020 | Updated on June 25th, 2020
Everyone’s buying hand sanitizers to keep in their purse, briefcase, car, and desk at work, at store entrances, and store checkout counters. The products have been around for ages. But, until the pandemic, people weren’t rushing out to buy them or contemplating bulk orders. Is it panic buying or do people really need hand sanitizer to be safe?
What Is Hand Sanitizer?
Hand sanitizer consists of a few simple ingredients that can kill up to 99.9% of all viruses. It contains alcohol, water, and emollients or skin protectants, such as aloe and polyacrylate, to create a gel-like substance when combined with water. Scientists have found that this is the most effective way to apply hand sanitizer. It gives you enough time to spread it across all areas before the alcohol causes it to evaporate.
However, to be effective, it must have at least 60% alcohol. Some scientists are concerned that people using less effective products could cause germs to develop resistance to the viruses they’re fighting and cause additional health issues.
Who Is Recommending Hand Sanitizer?
The short answer is that everyone is recommending hand washing and if you can’t wash your hands, to have hand sanitizer nearby. Health agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC, are both asking everyone to use these products and do so correctly, which means rubbing the gel all over all areas of your hands until they’re dry. The easiest way to stay healthy and protect your family is to be vigilant with cleaning.
Wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitizer after touching anything unfamiliar, and only apply products with 60% alcohol or more.
Many people are carrying a small bottle in their purse, briefcase, backpack, and even in their cars. Be careful about keeping any alcohol-based products in a warm vehicle without ventilation. Although it’s highly unlikely, these items could catch fire if the hot sun is beating down on them.
Does Hand Sanitizer Really Work?
Yes, according to the CDC, there are several studies that show the products working well in clinical settings, such as hospitals and nursing facilities. However, they won’t work against all germs, and to be effective, you need to have clean hands.
This means children with dirty hands still need to go wash their hands for 20 seconds with running water and soap. To help young kids that may have trouble with the 20-second rule, consider using an antibacterial soap that can reduce the washing time without losing any effectiveness.
Isn’t Soap And Water Just As Good As Hand Sanitizer?
Yes. In fact, the CDC recommends this as the first defense against germs. They also suggest washing your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds to ensure they’re clean and virus-free. But the reality is that most people aren’t near a sink with soap all the time.
Additionally, during the COVID-19 crisis, many public rest areas are either closed, or people don’t trust them to be virus-free, yet.
You should wash your hands or use sanitizer if you don’t have access an appropriate facility several times daily, such as,
- Before eating
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before and after caring for someone who’s sick
- Before and after treating wounds, including cuts, scrapes, bites, and scratches
- After blowing your nose, sneezing, and coughing
- After using the bathroom
- After touching animals
- After handling garbage and cleaning
During the pandemic, consider washing your hands or using sanitizer after touching anything open to the public, including, but not limited to:
- Waiting area seats
- Public transportation handrails
- Elevator buttons
- ATM buttons
- Checkout counters (Although most businesses are doing a good job cleaning between customers)
Can You Use Too Much Hand sanitizer?
Yes and no. Yes—It’s not going to harm you if you use a squirt or two every hour to prevent passing germs. But if you do that, you will dry out your hands. For people that work in a high-traffic environment, consider using hand sanitizer with aloe and other ingredients that can soothe dry skin.
The bottom line is yes. You really do need a hand sanitizer in 2020 and going forward. Until the world eliminates disease and viral conditions, keep purchasing sanitizing products to safeguard yourself and your loved ones.