Make sure you choose a sanitizer that contains between 60-95% alcohol. Also, when you use hand sanitizer, make sure you do so the right way. Find the directions on the back of the bottle and follow the proper technique. Generally, apply the liquid to the palm of one hand. Then rub it all over both hands until the sanitizer dries. This takes about 20 seconds. Be careful not to wipe the sanitizer off before it’s dry. Doing that can make it not as effective in killing germs.
There are many times you should use hand sanitizer, such as before and after touching a surface other people have touched. It’s good to wipe down the handle of a shopping cart before you use it.
It’s also wise to use sanitizer after you’ve pushed a cart around the store,
after filling your vehicle with fuel, after handling money,
after touching elevator buttons or door handles.
Things to consider
Using hand sanitizer frequently can make your hands very dry. If that happens, make sure your hands are dry, then apply lotion. Always wash your hands (with either soap and water or hand sanitizer) after each time you cough and sneeze.
As with other viral respiratory infections – like the common cold and flu – the novel coronavirus (called SARS-CoV-2) is mainly spread when virus-laden droplets from a person’s mouth or nose are transferred to other people. However, a recent study has suggested that it can also spread through faeces.
Aside from inhaling droplets, you can also get respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 by touching anything contaminated with the virus and then touching your face, in particular your mouth or nose.
Washing with warm water and soap remains the gold standard for hand hygiene and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Washing with warm water (not cold water) and soap removes oils from our hands that can harbour microbes.
There are 2 main types of hand sanitisers
Alcohol-based and alcohol-free. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers contain varying amounts and types of alcohol, often between 60% and 95% and usually isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or n-propanol. Alcohol is known to be able to kill most germs.
Alcohol-free hand sanitisers contain something called quarternary ammonium compounds (usually benzalkonium chloride) instead of alcohol. These can reduce microbes but are less effective than alcohol.
Not only are alcohol-based hand sanitisers found to be effective at killing many types of bacteria, including MRSA and E coli, they’re also effective against many viruses, including the influenza A virus, rhinovirus, hepatitis A virus, HIV, and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Alcohol attacks and destroys the envelope protein that surrounds some viruses, including coronaviruses. This protein is vital for a virus’s survival and multiplication. But a hand sanitiser needs to be at least 60% alcohol in order to kill most viruses.
Hand sanitisers with less than 60% alcohol were also found to be less effective at killing bacteria and fungi and may only reduce the growth of germs rather than killing them outright.
Hand sanitisers containing 60% alcohol can’t remove all types of germs. Studies have found that hand washing is more effective than hand sanitisers at removing norovirus, Cryptosporidium (a parasite that can cause diarrhoea), and Clostridium difficile (bacteria which cause bowel problems and diarrhoea).
If hands are visibly dirty, hand washing with soap and water is more effective than using alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
Sneezing or coughing into your hands also requires more than just a pump of hand sanitiser to disinfect them. This is because if your hands are contaminated with mucous, the hand sanitiser might not work as well because mucous acts to protect microbes. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers (with at least 60% alcohol) are a practical alternative when soap and water aren’t available.
If you are using hand sanitiser then, just like when washing with soap and water, you need to make sure you cover your hands (including between your knuckles, wrists, palms, back of your hand and your fingernails) fully, rubbing it in for at least 20 seconds so it’s truly effective. - The Conversation/The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
Hand sanitizers won’t get rid of all germs on your hands. And you shouldn’t use sanitizers if your hands are greasy or dirty. There is no substitute for soap and water.