Does Sanitizer Work?

Does sanitizer works and how effective in daily chores and your kitchen as well? The answer may surprise you.

In my job as a dietitian, in a hospital, we prepare foods for patients with a completely protected outfit, and sanitation is a must before entering the facilities: proper disinfectant with alcohol, hand washing, and hand sanitizer.

But nowadays, If you’ve visited a drug store lately, you probably noticed the empty shelves where sanitizer (alcohol disinfectant) usually sanitizers sit.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s not surprising that many people are taking extra steps to stay safe, you’ll see the government and concern citizens are disinfecting the whole cities and surfaces.

People are stocking up on sanitizing sprays, gels, and soaps as well for their protection. But are spray and hand sanitizers the best defense against bacteria and viruses like coronavirus and influenza?

Companies that market these products (which are sometimes labeled “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial”) say yes. But some consumer advocates say no, arguing that they aren’t effective and have the potential to engender bacterial strains that resist antibiotics.

As it turns out, the best answer is to take a common-sense approach.

How useful are spray and hand sanitizes?

Alcohol disinfectant

They’re useful in the hospital, to help prevent the transfer of viruses and bacteria from one patient to another by hospital personnel. Beyond a hospital setting, it’s complicated to show that hand sanitizer products are useful.

Outside of the hospital, most people catch respiratory viruses from direct contact with people who already have them, and hands won’t do anything in those circumstances. And they haven’t been shown to have more disinfecting power than just washing your hands with soap and water.

Convenient cleaning

The portable spray and hand sanitizer in demand during peak respiratory virus season [roughly November to April] because they make it much easier to clean your hands.

It’s much more difficult when you sneeze to wash your hands than it is to use a spray or hand sanitizer, especially when you are outdoors or in a car. The hand sanitizes much more convenient, so they make it more likely that people will clean their hands, and that’s better than not cleaning at all.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), however, for hand sanitizer to be effective, it must be used correctly. That means using the proper amount (read the label to see how much you should use), and rubbing it all over the surfaces of both hands until your hands are dry. Do not wipe your hands or wash them after applying.

Are all spray and hand sanitizers created equal?

It’s essential to make sure any spray or hand sanitizer you use contains at least 60 percent alcohol.

Studies have found that sanitizers with lower concentrations or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not as effective at killing germs as those with 60 to 95 percent alcohol.

In particular, non-alcohol-based sanitizes may not work equally well on different types of germs and could cause some bacteria to develop resistance to the sanitized.

Are spray or hand sanitizes and other antimicrobial products bad for you?

There is no proof that alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other antimicrobial products are harmful.

They could theoretically lead to antibacterial resistance. That’s the reason most often used to argue against using hand sanitizer. But that hasn’t been proven. In the hospital, there hasn’t been any evidence of resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

However, while there aren’t any studies showing that hand sanitizer pose a threat, there also isn’t any evidence that they do a better job of protecting you from harmful bacteria than soap.

So while hand sanitizer has their place — in hospitals or when you can’t get to a sink — washing with soap and warm water is almost always a better choice.

When to avoid hand sanitizer

You should always clean with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty, or if you’ve touched chemicals.

When hands are heavily soiled or greasy — such as after playing outdoor sports or working at a construction site — the CDC cautions that hand sanitizes may not work well at all.

Benefits of soap and water

wash hands thoroughly

Whenever you can, just wash your hands — for at least 20 seconds — with non-bacterial soap and warm water.

The CDC says soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizes at removing specific types of germs. They also do a better job of preserving the flora, or “good” bacteria, on your hands.

Your whole body covered with bacteria, and if you remove those good bacteria, it could be by other, potentially harmful bacteria. Natural bacteria are there for a reason.

The best defense: cleanliness

Do you like your room? Do you like your bathroom? How about your phone? There’s a good chance all of these things need to clean. It’s not necessary to use antimicrobial products: The important thing is to keep everything clean regularly.

I recommend washing your hand properly with liquid hand soap for more security.

On the other hand, some people are concerned about hygiene to an extreme extent. We try to assure them that if they do the usual things like practicing good hygiene — taking ordinary measures — they’ll be fine in our daily times — but in this time of pandemic crisis — we must take extra usual steps and precautions.

Take care, friends, and warm regards.


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My name is Lynn; I am a nutritionist, a devoted housewife, and a mother of two smart and amiable daughters.
Welcome to my website, “My healthy Japanese diet.” Yes, My love is healthy Japanese diet, and the enlightened healthy living in Japan.

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  1. It is so true that at the start it should be always soap and water. We never previously thought of sanitizing our hands – but the present situation necessitates this. I find that sanitizers dry my hands a lot and need to do hand cream afterwards. Is the sanitizer still effective after that? Thank you for your post

  2. Hand sanitizer are good for quick cleaning of the hands. It’s interesting there are no studies showing that is not any more effective at cleaning your hands than soap is. Also, that to effectively kill germs you need a 60-90% alcohol solution for good results. I’ll continue to clean my hands with soap and water per the CDC recommendation. Thanks for the information.

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