Over the past several years, alcohol and alcohol-free hand sanitizers have been popping up where. I have seen them in hospitals (of course), grocery stores and even IFC.
Personally, I hate them! Most have a lingering odor that I think would keep away evil spirits better than destroy any bacteria (both good and bad) found on one’s hands. Plus the feeling on my hands that remains is worse than RBI’s slobber after she polishes off her
favorite treat – whipped cream (from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf – of course).
But I know most of you treat it like holy water. Funny, in a facility where there so are many of the Jewish faith, watching clients reach for the bottle on the counter reminds me of how Catholics dip two fingers in the “Holy Water” and make the sign of the cross upon entering a church. And when the bottle is practically empty and pounding the pump proves fruitless, I laugh and think of those holy rollers who encounter an empty water bowl and frantically look for
another place to bless themselves in order to be protected from evil.
So what’s with the hand sanitizers. Do they work? Is alcohol-free better than those that contain alcohol? Is their use better than washing your hands?
Both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state, that if you are going to use a sanitizing gel, those that contain 60% to 95% ethanol or isopropanol (alcohol) are more effective for killing germs on the hands. The
higher the concentration of alcohol, the better the killing will be.
In fact, neither organization recommends any alcohol-free hand sanitizers for use as an antiseptic agent. They claim no standardized formula has been found to be consistently effective in the killing of germs and bacteria.
But while those that contain alcohol are their preferred choice, they do call attention to the gels’ half life. Contrary to popular belief, the effectiveness of any of these sanitizers only lasts for two
minutes. So while you may immediately kill germs and bacteria after covering your nose and mouth to sneeze, five minutes later, after shaking the hands of a new acquaintance, any germs they may have…are now yours.
So what about say, washing your hands? A novel idea…no? Both the CDC, the FDA and the Mayo Clinic agree here too. If given both options, washing with soap (anti-bacterial or not) and warm water is the gold standard. Study after study prove that good ole soap and
water kill more germs and bacteria than any sanitizer on the market today.
So while some of your favorite places may not always have sanitizers readily available, many of them, especially IFC, always have soap and water.