Do you really need to Wash Hands after using Sanitizer?
WASHING HANDS AFTER SANITIZING
During these unprecedented times, one might forget their own wallet but seldom forgets their mask and sanitizer. We use our trusted hand sanitizer religiously and often buy it in bulk. Before going out, I now hear my mother say ‘Don’t forget your sanitizer’ instead of the usual ‘Come back home safely’. All of this does make one wonder, ‘Is my regular sanitizer really that effective in keeping my hands clean?’
Our hands come in contact with everything: people, places, dirty surfaces and dust laden objects. As much as we try to remain contactless during the pandemic, we do end up touching surfaces which makes us immediately take out our sanitizer. Sanitizers have become such a routine to us, that people are forgetting- before the outbreak of COVID-19 washing our hands with soap was the default option.
WHAT EXPERTS SAY
According to WHO, Hand sanitizers that contain above 60% ethanol (ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol are said to be the most effective in combating germs and bacteria. However, a sanitizer does not ‘clean’ your hands, as effectively as your soap or hand wash would. They might be effective in killing the bacteria's exposed to your hands but a hand wash will remove the dirt, debris, germs as well as wash it away from your hands and entire body with water.
Disease specialist Michael Chang also speaks about the dilemma: Hand Sanitizer vs Hand Wash. He claims that one should always learn the technique of cleaning hands rather than obsessing over the products. He claims that both of them are effective in their own ways but just to be safe, one should use a hand wash after using a hand sanitizer.
WHY USE A HANDWASH AFTER SANITIZING
Hand sanitizers tend to dry up your hands or leave your skin chaffed due to the alcoholic content. It has also been seen in a research conducted that the germs and virus, although dead, tend to stay on your hands after using a sanitizer. Using a hand wash afterwards not only leaves with more moisturized hands but also rinses away dirt and germs from your body.
What’s surprising is that after a certain point, sanitizers may damage the natural protective layer on your skin, disrupting the microbiomes on your hands; leaving you more prone to viruses lying around. We see that people often sanitize their hands before having their food at their favorite cafes. Contrary to what people have been doing, it is extremely dangerous to use sanitizers before consuming or preparing food. According to dermatologist Caren Campbell, MD one must always wash hands after using a sanitizer while handling food. Retail Hand Sanitizers are often chemical laden and contain artificial fragrances that could be dangerous if consumed. It can make one sick and in worse cases, might cause abdominal pain and discomfort.
It was recommended by the CDC (Center for Disease Control, USA) that sanitizers should be used only when hand wash or soaps are not readily available.
Read CDC article on: When and How to Wash Your Hands.
Only sanitizers with alcohol are effective towards killing (not removing) viruses and germs. One should use a generous amount of sanitizer and cover every surface of the hand, especially between nails and fingers and keep rubbing their hands for 20 seconds till they are completely dry.
When the alternative is available, one should always go for hand washing. While bar soaps are also effective, they often have been used previously and one could get in contact with germs indirectly. When using hand wash or a bar soap, always remember to lather well and keep scrubbing your hands for over 20 seconds and rinse well. It is always important to dry your hands after as damp hands are prone to catching more bacteria and germs.
Read the article on: How to Wash Your Hands Without Overdrying Them?
So, when it comes to staying safe and away from viruses, sanitizers might work if there is no other option but it is always better to go for a good old hand wash! Some ads might make you feel your hands will be cleaned in 5 seconds but take your time, just like Bunty :). If you’re looking for a good, no toxin and nature powered hand wash for you and your family; we have got your back: