As cold and flu season comes around, hand sanitizers are popping up everywhere and many carry them around constantly, especially if they have children. Many grocery stores even offer large bottles for the use of their customers or sanitizing wipes for the handles of shopping carts, which admittedly are a great vehicle for spreading bacteria. However, while keeping the hands clean is a great way to prevent the spread of germs, it is still a poor substitute for good old-fashioned hand-washing. Also, there are things that you should know about these hand sanitizers before you use them so that you can use them wisely and to best effect.
Look at the Percentages
When buying hand sanitizers, look at its alcohol content: if the sanitizer is not, at the minimum, 60% alcohol, don’t bother to buy it: below this percentage, its effectiveness at killing off germs goes way down and it will not be a good way to keep cold and flu viruses from spreading.
Many people are not even aware of this additive, but it is found in nearly every antimicrobial product, including gels, soaps and toothpaste. One problem with this product is while it is a very effective anti-bacterial agent, triclosan has not effect upon viruses or fungi. Other, more serious problems include the fact that increasingly, it is being linked to the emergence of resistant bacteria and it also is a known endocrine disruptor, which means it can interfere with human hormones and cause a variety of health problems.
Not a Silver Bullet
Most people think that if they just use enough hand sanitizer, that they will be safe from the spread of germs. However, no product now on the market can kill everything, no matter how effective it is. As an example, hand sanitizers do not affect the norovirus, which is the one responsible for stomach flu and is found frequently in day care centers and cruise ships. It is good to understand this and to realize that, even with the sanitizer, you are still somewhat vulnerable.
Get that Dirt Off!
It is also a little-known fact that if someone has dirt or grease on their hands, the sanitizers will also not be effective. This is because, as gross as it sounds, the dirt and grease form a sort of protective layer on the hands so that the sanitizer cannot make contact with the bacteria underneath. So be sure to wash your hands thoroughly – which is a good idea, anyway – before applying the sanitizer so that it can do its job.
Nearly everyone has a cell phone nowadays and many keep their phones on them almost constantly, with the result that these phones are crawling with germs and many doctors say that you are more likely to pick up a virus from your cell phone than from the average public restroom! Do not use hand sanitizer on your phone as this can damage it, but do invest in some sort of disinfectant for your phone that are designed to clean and sanitize them without doing harm.
If you can keep these tips in mind in regards to hand sanitizers, it can definitely help you protect yourself more thoroughly against the spread of germs.
More by Christine . S