Hand gel is not a replacement for washing hands. I’m not a doctor or a health care professional, but I’ve played one on TV. That is just a little levity, but this is real talk here. I am tired of seeing people use hand sanitizer instead of soap and water. Hand sanitizer was never meant to be a replacement for washing hands. This is one of my big pet peeves, right along with drivers who do not use turn signals and litter bugs.
When you want to disinfect your hands fast, you may reach for a bottle of hand sanitizer. But how effective is hand sanitizer compared to washing your hands with soap and water?
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used “in addition to” hand washing, but should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water. Read that twice people, never a substitute for washing with soap and water. I see so many people doing this. It makes me sick.
While alcohol-based hand sanitizers (particularly those with 60 percent alcohol or more) can reduce the number of some germs, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that hand sanitizer doesn’t reduce the spread of some viruses such as the norovirus. If your hands are visibly dirty do not use hand sanitizer. As a matter of fact, only use hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available. I have seen people come out of a bathroom and then put one hand under the hand sanitizer dispenser at my job.
A recent study found that staff in long-term care facilities that relied too much on hand sanitizers over hand washing actually reported more outbreaks of norovirus-related illness. You may remember me telling you that when I went on a recent cruise that there was someone stationed by the huge hand sanitizer dispenser near the buffet forcing people to use it before serving their selves at the buffet. And we wonder why there is such an outbreak of viruses on these ships, people are not washing their hands they are relying on hand gel. Get up and go wash your hands.
The sanitizers are meant to supplement, not replace, good old-fashioned soap and water washing and the CDC agrees. It says that for norovirus, washing hands is your best prevention, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and before eating and doing food prep. Sanitizers may help, but “they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.”
The sanitizers are made to be used when soap and water is not available. I’ve read a lot of articles on soap and water vs. hand sanitizers and they all say that soap and water is better. Here is one of the biggest turn offs for me and I’m seeing this more and more. I go to a party at a friend’s house and right on the table with the plastic forks and plates is a big pump bottle of hand sanitizer. Talk about killing my appetite.
(Email the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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