What are the benefits of using hand sanitizer?


Quick Answer

Hand sanitizers are useful in the absence of soap and running water, according to BerkeleyWellness.com. They're transportable and available in sprays, gels and hand wipes.

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Full Answer

There is sufficient evidence suggesting sanitizers are effective in preventing infectious colds and illnesses, and killing most forms of bacteria and viruses on contact. In one study, families who started using sanitizer over a five-month period reported 60 percent fewer gastrointestinal problems than those who didn't use sanitizer.

While hand sanitizers can be an efficient alternative to washing one's hands with soap and warm water, they aren't as effective at killing germs for several reasons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people don't use enough sanitizer to be thorough. It's recommended that enough of the product is applied to cover all surfaces of both hands, including fingertips and nails. Grease and soil on the hands can also create a resistance that's hard for sanitizers to penetrate and clean efficiently.

Additionally, there are certain classes of germs that soap and water are better at removing or killing, such as bacterial spores. Sanitizers that don't contain alcohol are less effective and may contribute to bacterial resistance. If soap and water are not available, a sanitizer with a minimum of 60 percent alcohol concentration is recommended.

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