Good hand hygiene will keep you safe and prevent you from contracting unwanted diseases – for example, the coronavirus.
You, like most people, have probably started to increasingly become wary of germs – you may even have considered (or purchased) countless products that are advertised to keep you germ-free.
Practicing frequent handwashing is a great hand hygiene practice and the best way to start. This is especially true for the following common scenarios: using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, before eating, and after encountering potentially contaminated areas.
In this article, we will break down two options for you – hand sanitizers and hand disinfectants (or hand wipes). These two are among the best-selling items since the pandemic surfaced.
WHICH IS THE BETTER, PORTABLE, GERM-KILLING PRODUCT THAT SUITS YOU?
LET’S START WITH HAND SANITIZERS
Alcohol hand sanitizer is not a recent breakthrough in the healthcare industry. This has been around since the 40s although, it does not yet function in the same way that you might be familiar with now.
At that time, only around 5% alcohol was included in its formulation – considerably distant from the 60-95% standard alcohol content range recommended today by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Although there are non-alcohol hand sanitizers offered in the market, alcohol – typically in the form of ethanol or propanol – is the active ingredient that is responsible for making sure you don’t pick up unwanted germs or viruses; and if you have had contact with unwanted germs or viruses, then it makes sure these germs are reduced.
Presently, anything with alcohol content below the specified range will render your hand sanitizer sub potent.
WHEN SHOULD YOU USE HAND SANITIZERS?
Although handwashing is still the primary way of protecting you from disease-causing germs and viruses, hand sanitizers may be used as a second option if soap and clean water are not accessible to you.
Make sure your hands are completely dry before using the product, and not physically dirty; alcohol hand sanitizers weaken germs but do not necessarily clean physical impurities from your hands. Rub for 30-60 seconds, or until the hand sanitizer has completely gone dry and that all areas of your hand have been covered.
WHAT ABOUT HAND DISINFECTANTS – HOW ARE THESE EFFECTIVE?
Similar to hand sanitizers, some hand disinfectants use alcohol as their active disinfecting ingredient, with standard amounts that should also fall within 60-95% for it to work as intended.
A WORD OF WARNING!
Though, don’t confuse hand disinfectant wipes with industry-grade or medical-grade disinfectant wipes. These are equipped with harsher chemicals and are mainly used in disinfecting surface areas around your home – definitely too strong to be in direct contact with your skin.
WHEN SHOULD YOU USE HAND DISINFECTANTS?
Depending on the instructions specified in the product label, hand disinfectants have a “contact time” – this refers to the time you have to wait after using, then wait some more until your hands are completely dry, for the intended effects of the product to occur.
THE FINAL VERDICT – WHICH IS THE STRONGER GERM-KILLER BETWEEN THE TWO? IT REALLY IS UP TO YOU!
Hand sanitizers, whether in a liquid or gel form, are at risk of accidentally spilling onto your other items. Compared to hand disinfectants, using hand sanitizers is easier to spread around your hands to ensure full coverage.
On the other hand, disinfectant wipes do not pose the risk of leaking onto your other valuable items. Plus, if your hands are covered in mild impurities, the clothing material can be rubbed onto the skin to clean it. One flaw with disinfectant wipes is that these are not as convenient to carry around, unlike hand sanitizers. Another weakness is that these take a bit longer to use – you need to wait for its “contact time” upon application to guarantee promised results.
Both products are relatively similar in terms of effectiveness, as both usually use the same active ingredient within the same recommended content range. Select depending on which suits you more – bear in mind that these are great alternatives when hand washing is not an option for you at the time, but these products still do not replace the effects of soap and water.