According to the World Health Organization (WHO), viruses and bacteria can stay on surfaces for up to 4 hours or more. The mere act of holding the doorknob, using an office phone, or touching any surface on public areas can put you at risk of getting a disease.
Washing with soap and water is still the top recommendation from WHO on thoroughly killing disease-causing microbes on your hands. However, a sink and faucet are not always accessible. It is fortunate that you can always carry a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. But are you using it correctly?
Alcohol-based sanitizers can be as effective as soap-washing if used properly. Read on to learn more about the proper quantity and method of applying hand sanitizers to maximize their benefits.
Hand sanitizers are not ideal for removing visible dirt.
Hand sanitizers with at least 70% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol can kill 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and viruses. However, they are only intended for such microbes. They are not designed for removing visible dirt and grime from your hands. Don’t waste your sanitizer for cases like this because you have to completely remove the dirty particles away from your hands. You should wash them off with soap and water.
Use at least 1 mL per sanitation.
Did you know that the average surface area of an adult hand is 21.6 square-inches? Its size should not be underestimated since thousands of microbes can stick to it. You need around 1 to 2 mL of hand sanitizer to adequately cover your hands. Alcohol also vaporizes quickly, so you need enough to cover the entire surface area before it dissipates into the air.
Cover the entire surface of your hand.
You need to be thorough when applying hand sanitizer. Wristwatches and other accessories should be removed whenever possible. Then, rub the sanitizer onto your hands and make sure you cover all of its surfaces. Rub carefully between your fingers, around your wrists, the back of your hands, and especially your nails since they can trap microbes in them.
Take your time.
You should briskly rub the sanitizer to your hands for at least 30 seconds. This is the ideal amount of time to cover your hands’ surface area and effectively consume 1 mL of the sanitizer before it vaporizes.
According to clinical research, the chemical composition of alcohol breaks down the microscopic walls of viruses and bacteria to kill them. You need to give the sanitizer time to penetrate and break the microbes’ defense.
If used correctly, hand sanitizers offer the following benefits:
- It can contain microbial growth for yourself and others. Our hands are used for a multitude of tasks, and you can expose others to diseases too. Frequent sanitizing can arrest the growth and reproduction of microbes at home and at the workplace.
- You can form a healthy and hygienic habit. Since you can carry hand sanitizers with you, you can use them frequently and let them protect you around the clock. For example, you can easily sanitize after using public transport or buying something from a convenience store.
- You can also reduce costs. You don’t need tissue paper all the time to dry your hands since sanitizers quickly evaporate on their own.