Hand Sanitizer and Handwashing

Hand Sanitizer and Handwashing

Among the general population, there are some pretty divisive opinions when it comes to hand sanitizer. For every person who can’t seem to live without one – keeping them in their car, desk, and so on – there are others who complain about having to use hand sanitizer and find it unpleasant. However, within many industries, hand sanitizer serves an important function.

When Should Hand Sanitizer be Used?

While the debate between handwashing (with soap and water) and hand sanitizer has often favored soap and water (which the CDC notes is more effective), you shouldn’t dismiss hand sanitizer’s efficacy. When it comes to eliminating many kinds of bacteria, for instance, studies have found that it’s on par or better than normal handwashing. More importantly, hand sanitizer is often available when soap and water isn’t.

Hand sanitizer is a great solution when you don’t have easy access to a sink, which can be an issue if a worker can’t leave their station. Likewise, it can be used as an alternative to soap and water if somebody is sensitive to soap.

Where many people think of soap and sanitizer as either/or solutions, you can also choose to wash with soap then apply sanitizer. Combining the two can offer added protection, particularly if you’re using a sanitizer with a controlled-release formula, since certain kinds of bacteria are more vulnerable to one method than the other. This ensures that you have all of your bases covered which, if you work in the food industry, can save you from a reputation-killing bout of food poisoning.

What Kind of a Hand Sanitizer Should You Use?

The CDC notes that hand sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60-90% are more effective than their lower concentration counterparts. Non-alcohol-based sanitizers may not work as well for all classes of germs.

However, the ideal sanitizer can vary depending on your industry; for instance, workers in a hospital will have more specific needs than those in the food service industry.

How Should Hand Sanitizer Be Applied?

The Handwashingforlife Institute recommends a two-step protocol when only using sanitizer. The first application and rub is to physically clean the hands, removing things like dirt or grease. The second application is designed to kill any remaining bacteria or germs.

For maximum efficacy, a person’s hands need to have a certain level of moisture. Dry or cracked hands aren’t able to spread and absorb the sanitizer as readily, in addition to being painful for the user.

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