Before we dive into the use of hand sanitizer, it is important to note that according to the CDC washing hands with soap and water is the best way to kill microbes on hands and is preferred to the use of hand sanitizer. However, in situations where soap and water are not readily available, an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol should be used.
Once you’ve determined that hand sanitizer is necessary, it is important to apply it correctly to reduce the number of microbes on hands. When using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand using label instructions on how much to use. Rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until they are dry. Do not use a towel to dry them. Allow hands to air dry.
While hand sanitizers can be very effective at reducing the number of microbes on hands they do not eliminate all types of germs, such as a stomach bug called norovirus, some parasites and Clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea. Additionally, hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty and they might not remove harmful chemicals.
Even though hand sanitizer can remove microbes, it is important to remember that soap and water is always preferred and hand sanitizer will not clean hands that are dirty or greasy. Do not use hand sanitizer after gardening, playing out doors or after fishing and camping. Soap and water should be used unless a handwashing station is not available.
Here are some helpful tips for knowing when to clean your hands and what method is best according to the CDC website:
Soap and Water Should be Used:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After using the bathroom, changing diapers, or cleaning up a child who has used the bathroom
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal food or treats, animal cages or animal waste
- After touching garbage
- If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy
- Before and after visiting someone in a hospital or nursing home, unless the person is sick with Clostridium difficile (in this case, use soap and water).
- If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol, but wash with soap and water as soon as you can. The use of automatic sanitizer dispenser is always preferable because o its non touch function