Learn how to use—and choose—the best hand sanitizer for your home, school or office.
In 2020, one of the least-expected outcomes for many would have been a global pandemic that quite literally affected everyone in the world. Secondary to that? The monumental growth of the hand-sanitizer industry, which the FDA notes added 1,500 manufacturers between March and the end of April alone.
But with this blue ocean comes a Wild West mentality—make it, sell it and ship it, with less regard to FDA regulations, safety or other measures that would typically be more scrutinized. It therefore falls—to some extent—to the purchaser, to ensure that they are getting a safe and effective form of sanitizer, as well as using it correctly.
What is hand sanitizer, and how does it work?
Hand sanitizer is an alcohol-based liquid that can be used without water or soap to sanitize and disinfect hands. Because of this, it is highly portable and typically serves as an “on the go” means of disinfection.
However, hand sanitizer is not a cleaning agent—it merely kills germs living on the surface, by removing the protective proteins and diffusing the germ membrane. So while it can be effective to remove germs and bacteria from surfaces, it should not be a replacement for soap and water as a personal hygiene product, it does provide an extra layer of protection when in situations where soap and water is not available.
What should I look for in a hand sanitizer?
The biggest requirement in a hand sanitizer is that it is alcohol based—with a level of at least 60 percent alcohol—either ethanol or isopropanol. Per FDA recommendations for an ideal find, you should select one that uses either alcohol (ethanol) that is not less than 94.9 percent by volume or USP-grade isopropyl alcohol.
Additionally important are the ingredients that should not be included: methanol sanitizers have been known to crop up in recent months, and with regular or significant use, can have major adverse effects, such as nausea, vomiting, or headache, when a significant amount is used on the skin. Additionally, steer clear of “quats” or “waterless” hand sanitizers, which can contribute to breathing issues like asthma.
When should I use hand sanitizer?
The most typical uses for hand sanitizers will include after shaking hands or touching another person, or when handling common objects such as pens, shopping carts or door handles. In these cases, a quick squirt of hand sanitizer can provide a quick-acting solution to any germs you may have come in contact with.
However, although hand sanitizer is great for everyday interim use, it can’t replace soap and water for a thorough clean. Ideally, you should use soap and water as your preferred cleaning method in the following circumstances: when preparing or serving food, or prior to eating; after caring for or treating someone who is sick or wounded; after using the bathroom or changing a diaper; or after handling a pet, pet food, or any trash.
Additionally, keep in mind that hand sanitizer is a sanitizing method, not a cleaning process, so if you have dirty or greasy hands—from working outside or on a car, or playing outdoors, fishing or working out—make sure you search out a sink with soap and water instead.
How should I use hand sanitizer?
Hand sanitizer is easy to use—simply squirt or pump some on to your hands and rub your hands together to spread it around. Spread over the whole surface of your hands. However, keep these three tips in mind:
Put enough sanitizer on your hands to cover all surfaces. (This may feel like too much, but remember that alcohol-based sanitizers evaporate quickly).
Rub your hands together until they feel dry (this should take around 20 seconds). Ensure you are moving the sanitizer to the back of your hands, in between fingers and across your palms, as well.
Don’t rinse or rub off the sanitizer before it’s dry; you want it to work to its full potential to kill any germs there.
Finally, when considering hand sanitizers—especially their use within classrooms or office buildings—consider how these guidelines will affect your purchasing requirements. If you don’t already have sanitizer stations around the office, now is the time to consider doing so, as the heyday of sanitizer will be here for a while. Keep in mind that we at Clear Digital can help—not only does our new Gel Hand Sanitizer check all the boxes for a solid and safe sanitizer selection, but it also works well with our sanitizer stations and can be purchased in bulk and on subscription, so you never run out.