Hand hygiene is a very important habit that people should develop. It arrests the growth and spread of pathogens, which is a general term for all microbes, germs, viruses, and bacteria that can cause diseases. That’s why hand sanitizers are essential for keeping yourself safe during the flu season or a pandemic. Here are 10 facts you should know about them:
1. Alcohol-free hand sanitizers are not as effective as alcohol-based ones.
You may see advertisements of alcohol-free sanitizers saying that they are gentle to the skin and they do not cause lasting dryness on your hands. While that may be true, their effects are limited to just reducing the growth of microbes instead of actually killing them. You need to choose products with at least 70% alcohol to ensure that you are killing germs and viruses.
2. Sanitizing the palms and fingers are not enough.
When rubbing alcohol onto your hands, you need to do it briskly so that you feel some friction. You should also disinfect your wrists, the back of your hands, and your nails since microbes can get trapped in every small crevice.
3. Alcohol in hand sanitizers cause “earthquakes” to microbes at a molecular level.
Alcohol kills microbes like washing with soap and water, but the approaches are different. Soap reduces the surface tension of water and the molecular walls of microbes. It’s like prying their walls open to break down their molecular integrity. Alcohol in hand sanitizers, on the microscopic level, surrounds the walls that protect viruses and germs. It rattles the protective walls and break them down, killing the microbes in the process.
4. Sanitizers are not meant for greasy and soiled hands.
For grease and visible dirt, it is best to wash your hands first with soap and water. Hand sanitizers are meant to kill microscopic threats but not for visible and oily grime.
5. Washing with soap and water is still WHO’s first recommendation.
The World Health Organization says that washing on a faucet with soap is still the best way to clean your hands. Running water and the amount of time spent washing ensures that microbes are effectively killed and washed away. However, hand sanitizers fill the gap, especially when you are in places where soap and a faucet are not available.
6. It can kill 99.9% of flu-causing viruses.
You need to be vaccinated to have immunity to particular disease causing microbes. However, the common colds and flu have several strains that you are not yet immune to. Your body’s first line of defense is actually sanitizing your hands regularly. It can prevent new strains of diseases from entering your body in the first place.
7. At least 1 mL is needed per use.
You should use around 1-2 mL per application of hand sanitizers. This ensures that your hands’ entire surface area can get disinfected before the alcohol-based solution evaporates into the air.
8. Portability is the best advantage offered by hand sanitizers.
You can’t always access a faucet and sink to wash your hands with soap. There are small hand sanitizer bottles that you can refill and bring virtually anywhere, so you can disinfect your hands as frequently as possible.
9. Hand sanitizers should not be taken orally.
Perhaps you are aware of this already but it cannot be overstated that hand sanitizers are not meant for oral consumption. Contrary to the myth that it can disinfect your digestive tract, ingesting hand sanitizers can lead to alcohol poisoning and more problems.
10. Hand sanitizers have a lot of other uses.
The alcohol in hand sanitizers can be used to wipe and erase permanent marker stains. They can stop itching from insect bites. You can also use a tiny drop and cotton to make your phone screen clean and shiny again. Just be careful not to use too much that moisture gets into your gadget.