Battle of the Bacteria-Killers
October and November are the months in which the highest percentages of the population tend to contract viruses like the flu. This flu season, like every flu season, people flock to corner stores everywhere and start buying one precious item in bulk: hand sanitizer. Everyone seems to have a travel sized bottle in their bag or their car in the hopes that they’ll escape another flu season unscathed. However, is hand sanitizer a proper substitute for soap and a sink? In this week’s blog, we’ll uncover which solution is best for staying healthy this fall.
Facts on Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer has obvious benefits. It does eliminate most germs present on the skin quickly; however, it is not effective for all types of germs. A quick dollop in the middle of the palm spread evenly, once completely dry, is a quick solution when out and about. This is especially true if much of your day is spent moving to and from meetings, touching door handles and shaking hands. The CDC even notes that hand sanitizer may be able to replace handwashing! That fact comes with a caveat, however. They mention that this is only true in hospitals or similar clinical situations where sterile surfaces are the norm already. So for anyone not in a medical field, it may not be a viable solution for regular use.
Facts on Handwashing
Traditional handwashing takes time to rinse away bacteria and germs which hand sanitizer may just move around. It is important to note, however, that handwashing is only effective if done properly. Quickly running your hands under lukewarm water with a splash of soap isn’t going to give you the results you need to stay healthy. At least 20 seconds of scrubbing is recommended by most experts. Wet hands, wash for a minimum 20 seconds, and rinse thoroughly. It is also important to dry hands completely before resuming your day after handwashing.
Which is better?
Handwashing is the clear winner of this batter; fortunately, hand sanitizer isn’t knocked all the way out. Most officials agree: hand sanitizer is effective when used in conjunction with handwashing, but not in place of it. So buying a gallon of hand sanitizer at your local pharmacy can still be useful (although maybe overkill). Just make sure to continue to properly wash your hands with soap and water this flu season to keep the bacteria at bay and stay as healthy as possible.