Tips on Using Hand Sanitizer Properly

Hand sanitizers play a critical role in the prevention of transmission of disease-related germs and viruses thus must be used properly.

The government, public health organizations, and others recommend rubbing hands with a disinfectant for at least 20 seconds to achieve best effectiveness against germs. There are reports suggesting inadequate knowledge about hand hygiene proper can lead to ineffective application of hand sanitizer. This is because viable germs may remain on hands even after the application of hand sanitizer, as not all areas of the hands and palms are covered when hand sanitizer is applied.

Whether using soap and water, disposable tissues, or hand sanitizer, the good news is that good hand hygiene can be practiced in all situations to keep unwanted germs at bay. Just as in the case of washing with soap and water, the effectiveness of hand sanitizers at removing germs depends on appropriate usage. Unless you are using antibacterial soap, washing your hands with soap and water likely does not kill a lot of germs. When hands are dirty or greasy, ideally, people should wash their hands with soap and water, the CDC recommends, using a disinfectant only if washing hands is not an option.

While washing hands might be priority one, using hand sanitizer (e.g. Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Refreshing Gel) or hand sanitizing wipes (e.g. Purell Hand Sanitizing Wipes) is the next best option when soap and water are not nearby. Rubbing hands together with soap and water generates friction, which breaks up the gunk and germs on your skin, making it more effective than hand sanitizer in getting rid of it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol, which can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Some products on the market claim to disinfect hands, but they either have too little alcohol or none at all.

Whenever possible, rub any dirt or oil from your hands off with a clean paper towel before applying hand sanitizer. Do not touch faucets after cleaning your hands, and always use clean towels. If using a towel, make sure you dry your hands for at least 15 seconds.

To properly apply hand sanitizer, place it on the palm of a hand, rubbing the hands together so that the gel covers all surfaces of your hands and fingers, until the hands are dry. Following these steps will ensure that the sanitizer is applied correctly and that it covers the whole surface of your hands. Apply sanitizer, placing sufficient amount onto the hands to cover all surfaces.

20-second usage is best. Make sure you reach all corners of your hands, including your palms, back, between your fingers, and under the nails. You should sanitize your hands regularly, particularly after spending time in public, before cooking food or eating, and after you have sneezed, coughed, or blown your nose. Wait until your disinfectant is dry completely before touching any surface that touches your food.

If the hands are drying out in just 10-15 seconds, you did not use enough sanitizer, you need to apply more. When hands start feeling dry, you have applied all of the sanitizer. When using hand sanitizer, rub the hands until they feel totally dry before performing activities that might include heat, sparks, static, or an open flame.

A 2019 study of infections in hospitals found that hand sanitizers may help slow the spread of MRSA and other infections, providing a fast, simple, and affordable method for health care workers to enhance their hand hygiene. Although the increased risk for skin-related problems in healthcare workers from increased hand sanitizer use, the effect should not deter health workers from practicing alcohol-based hand hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic, which would otherwise increase risk for the spread of infectious germs.

Frequent hand-sanitizing is one of the best ways to prevent getting sick and spreading disease, thus, should be done in a proper manner.

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