Most of us have a bottle of hand sanitizer within reach these days. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we need to be prepared, always. When it comes to staying protected from virus transmission, hand sanitizer is an important line of defense. But are we using it properly? Maybe not. Here are five mistakes that can make hand sanitizer ineffective.
After touching door handles or leaving the doctor's office, the first thing we may do is quickly apply a couple of squirts of hand sanitizer. But is it enough to kill all the germs and bacteria on our hands? Follow the same rule as hand washing: rub the hands, wrists and fingers for at least 20 seconds. And it should stay wet with sanitizer for that entire time.
Remember, while hand sanitizer does kill germs, it's the rubbing that breaks down virus compounds, making it harder to transmit a virus. So slather up and rub away and make sure to do it for a long time.
Avoid over-scented products or those made with 1-propanol and methanol. These can actually be toxic, especially if they come in contact with other liquids.
In addition, always be sure to store hand sanitizer at room temperature. Hot or cold conditions can cause the product not to work as well.
Applying hand sanitizer too fast means it may not cover every area of our hands. Just like not having enough on our hands to do its job, applying too fast can also mean we don't reach all the nooks and crannies where bacteria hide out.
One tip? Try singing the happy birthday song as you rub your hands. While doing it, make sure the hands are saturated. If it dries out too quickly, squeeze a little more and pay particular attention around fingers, palms and wrists.
We need about a teaspoon to fight off all germs, so don't think it's too much. This amount can make us feel like our hands are too wet, and our first reaction might be to wipe it off. Don't do it! Wiping our hands off on clothing can lead to further contamination, and it also reduces the effectiveness of the germ-fighting sanitizer.
Nothing is as effective as traditional hand washing. The hot water and friction are what destroy and eliminate unwanted bacteria from sticking around. As soon as we can, we should wash our hands. Handwashing remains key in germ-fighting and overall hygiene.
Hand sanitizer does work at combating viruses, but it's just a temporary fix. It’s an ideal option when we’re on the go and unable to get to a sink with soap to wash our hands. While the pandemic is starting to slow, there will always be another virus on the rise. Knowing how to sanitize properly is the frontline defense for stopping the spread and staying healthy every day.
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