Noel Funderburk, PhD, MT(ASCP)
Diplomate, American Board of Medical Microbiology, Humat News Writer
There is a lot in the news about using hand sanitizers.
Some of it can be misleading.
Some things to keep in mind.
1. The amount of sanitizer used is very important.
The hands must be kept very wet with sanitizer and vigorously rubbed around, especially between the fingers and around the nails.
2. Alcohol sanitizers work slowly. The maximal effectiveness would be to keep the hands wet for about 4 minutes.
No one will do this. For most purposes, at least 45 seconds will suffice. That will be about the time you can sing the “Happy Birthday” song to your self three times.
3. Hand lotion and oils will decrease the effectiveness of the alcohol sanitizer.
4. Even if you use sanitizers, you must wash your hands with soap and water frequently because oils and other ingredients of sanitizers will accumulate on the skin and protect viruses and bacteria from the effect of alcohol.
5. Alcohol sanitizers are not effective for the Norovirus, which is the common intestinal virus which affects passengers on cruise ships.
Some are making their own from alcohols.Only pure ethanol should be used. And it is most effective at a concentration of 60%. Other alcohols require different concentrations to optimally effective, i.e. Isopropyl (Rubbing) alcohol is most effective at 70%, but may be absorbed enough if used sufficiently to be toxic. Denatured alcohol contains methyl alcohol and other toxic alcohols so it should not be used.