Is my hand sanitizer actually working?

Concerns & Questions

Mom squeezing hand sanitizer onto littler daughter’s hands

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Hand sanitizer is a hot commodity right now amid the coronavirus outbreak. But how do you know if your hand sanitizer is actually getting the job done? How much alcohol needs to be in the sanitizer for it to kill germs?

The Center for Disease Control recommends washing your hands with soap and water whenever possible but if that isn’t possible, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol can help you from spreading germs to others.

CDC studies show that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration with 60-95 percent are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol based hand sanitizers.

If you do not use sanitizer with at least 60-95 percent alcohol concentration, you run the risk of not killing as many types of germs and only reducing the growth of germs rather than killing the germs outright.

While soap and water removes certain germs that sanitizer can’t, alcohol based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes when used correctly. The CDC reminds people to use a large enough volume of sanitizer and to make sure that you don’t wipe off the sanitzer before it dries completely.

In order for your hand sanitizer to be effective, the CDC reminds people that sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. For example, when people handle food, play sports, work in the garden, or go camping or fishing, hand sanitizers may not work as well. In those circumstances, hand-washing with soap and water is always recommended.

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