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The Biggest Hand Sanitizer Mistakes

Applying hand sanitizer

Have Hand Sanitizer, Will Travel.

It’s a smart slogan many Americans are traveling by as the cautiously venture out across town, across state and across the country during the COVID-19 Pandemic. When washing your hands with soap and water is not readily available, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hand sanitizer as a trusted means of removing harmful germs and bacteria from your hands. As effective as sanitizer is at removing germs and bacteria – 99.9% — it’s only as effective as we are at using it.

Properly applying hand sanitizer is essential to its ability to neutralize germs. As we brace for the dawn of an unpredictable and possibly violatile cold and flu season arriving in the thick of an unrelenting fourth wave of COVID-19, we all can use a refresher course in how to properly apply and use hand sanitizer.

“There is no doubt that hand sanitizers are a convenient and handy resource to assist in migrating the spread of infectious disease,” epidemiologist K.C. Rondello told HuffPost. “However, it is not a cure all. There are many limitations to its use, so consumers must be aware of these caveats in order to utilize sanitizers in the most effective way.”

Here are the HuffPost’s Top Five Most Common Hand Sanitizer Mistakes:

You’re Using the Wrong Sanitizer

Alas, not all sanitizers are created equally. The CDC advises using alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains a minimum of 60% alcohol. Numerous studies have concluded sanitizer with an alcohol concentration between 60% and 95% are more effective at killing germs that non-alcohol sanitizers. Study the product label to learn whether or not the sanitizer contains the advised level of alcohol. Rondello advises using sanitizers that “contain at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 70% isopropyl alcohol” since these alcohols most effectively erase germs.

A Bad Rub

The Rub and Run Trick rarely works. When you apply sanitizer, make sure the product is absorbed into your hands. There shouldn’t be any lingering wetness. Set your Sanitizer Application Clock for 20 to 30 seconds.

“One common mistake people make when using hand sanitizer is that they fail to rub it in all the way,” Dr. Stephen Loyd, chief medical director at health care company JourneyPure, told Eat This, Not That. “It’s important to continue to rub it into your skin until it dries.”

 The World Health Organization recommends applying a palmful of sanitizer into a cupped hand. Studies have shown that to sufficiently cover both the front and back of hands, people need to use more than half a teaspoon of sanitizer.

Poor Storage

To maintain hand sanitizer’s effectiveness, experts recommend storing it at a temperature of 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid storing sanitizer under direct sunlight.

Don’t Try This on Filthy Hands

Hand sanitizers are designed to erase germs in a pinch, but they are not miracle workers. For greasy, grimed and all-out dirty hands, you need to turn to soap and water and fully wash your hands.

“An impractical use of hand sanitizer is using it in replacement of soap and water,” Loyd stresses. “Nothing cleans your hands better than soap and water, so hand sanitizer should only be used when you don’t have access to a handwashing sink.”

Other frequent sanitizer mistakes that undercut its germ-killing ability include over-applying, making your own sanitizer (like moonshine, never a good idea) and not checking the expiration date.

Not a ‘Cure All’

Remember, hand sanitizer is trusted, proven and superb protection against the cold, flu and coronavirus, but it’s not magic gel. For it to properly eradicate harmful germs and pathogens we need to use it properly.

Hand sanitizer, as Rondello warns, is not a “cure all.”

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