Hand sanitizer is an effective defense against viruses and other microorganisms, but only if it’s used correctly. While the use of sanitizer has increased during the pandemic, people often miss out on its benefits through incorrect use.
Follow these tips and be confident you’re getting the most benefit:
First, make sure the hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol, the minimum content required to be effective. Less than that will not neutralize enough microorganisms. Choose a sanitizer that you enjoy using, one that has a pleasant texture and feel and is thick enough to remain on the hands during application, but that dries without leaving a sticky residue.
Many people don’t use enough sanitizer. It’s important to use enough to cover all surfaces of the hands, front and back, not just the palms or fingertips. Some manufacturers recommend using a dime-sized amount, but this can vary depending on the individual.
Apply sanitizer to the palm of one hand. Rub hands together, covering all surfaces of both hands, including between your fingers and around the fingertips and nails. Rub hands together for 30 seconds to allow complete absorption and for the product to dry. Don’t touch anything until it’s dry.
Part of using hand sanitizer correctly is knowing when not to use it. In general, soap and water do a better job of removing unwanted organisms, but sanitizer is a good alternative when hand washing is not an option.
Don’t use sanitizer when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. The contaminants on the skin interfere with the sanitizer’s efficacy.