Answers to common questions about hand sanitizer


For quite some time, hand sanitizer has received some harsh criticism and speculation. Being that cold and flu season is around the corner, I decided to do a lil’ bit of investigating. Turns out, hand sanitizer’s not so bad! Here are some of your questions about hand sanitizer answered.

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on this issue. Do you think that hand sanitizer is controversial or helpful? I’d love to read about what you think :)

I heard that soap and water are just as effective as hand sanitizer. Is this true?

In certain crucial instances, soap and water are not as effective as hand sanitizer. The alcohol content of hand sanitizers are more effective at killing multidrug-resistant pathogens, like MRSA and VRE, and sneaky fungi and viruses, like influenza and Hepatitus B. This does not mean that soap and water is a useless combination; it just means that soap and water is less effective at eliminating certain germs than hand sanitizer.

Actually, before squirting out the hand sanitizer, take a gander are how dirty your hands look. If they are totally soiled, your hand sanitizer won’t work as well, since the alcohol in hand sanitizer does not cut through proteins and fatty acids.

What’s the proper way to apply hand sanitizer?

While  this may sound like a silly question, it’s actually important! Simply distributing and rubbing hand sanitizer across the entire surface area of the hands is not enough; make sure to apply the sanitizer beneath your fingernails as well. Germs are pesky and, when in the act of eliminating them, you wanna make sure that you ‘gettem all.

Do homemade hand sanitizers work better than store brand hand sanitizers?

We all love things that are made straight from the hearts and hands of the ones who we know and love, but, and though we hate to admit it, sometimes the store brand just works best. Store brand hand sanitizers are usually composed of 60% alcohol, killing off most of the icky-sicky germs that we don’t want cozying up in-between the crevices of our palms; whereas, most of the homemade recipes for sanitizers contain far less alcohol, which, ultimately, makes them far less effective.


Are all hand sanitizers the same?

Nope. Definitely not. Hand sanitizers that are composed of 60% or more of ethyl or isopropyl alcohol content are far more effective than those that do not. It’s worth taking note of these percentages when purchasing hand sanitizer, since most sanitizing products that you come across at your local retailer are composed of a measly 40% ethyl or isopropyl alcohol content. Those that contain less than 60% might not affect the amount of germs proliferating on your hands at all.

I have kids. Should I be applying hand sanitizer all the time?

Children raised in hyper-clean environments are actually less likely to be healthy in the long run. A 2009 study at Northwestern University reported that those raised in environments that stress the usage of sanitizing products are more likely to be healthy as children, but suffer from five to seven times lower levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein as young adults. So, what does that mean? Chill out and let your kids serve up some delicious mud pies!

Are hand sanitizers promoting a drug-resistant super bacteria?

I’ve been hearing this one since middle school: “Hand sanitizer kills 99.99% of germs, so the .01% of germs that are resistant to sanitizing products are multiplying at an alarming rate! They will be the death of us all!” The doom! The horror! How ominous!

Much to the dismay of many devoted conspiratorial, science fiction-obsessive peoples, hand sanitizers are completely and totally safe. Sanitizing products are definitely not promoting the evolution and spread of killer bacteria. Actually, bacteria have no defense against the poisonous effects of alcohol. They just don’t. According to the CDC’s hand sanitation guidelines, alcohol-based hand sanitizer is, in fact, known to kill multi-drug resistant pathogens, which explains why so many hospitals, restaurants, businesses, and bacterial infested spaces insist that their employees take advantage of sanitizers.

How are most germs spread anyway?

Though we fear people sneezing or coughing without covering their faces, surprisingly, most germs are not spread through airborne means. 85% of germs are spread by our hands. (It’s important to consider where your hands were placed five minutes before your started rubbing your eye!). Hand sanitizer is a great way to prevent the transmission of germs on your hands…so sanitize up and keep your hands clean!