How Does Hand Sanitizer Work?

Ashley | 03 - 27 - 2020
How does hand sanitizer work

Hand sanitizer is a liquid or gel that is used on the hands in order to kill microorganisms. According to the CDC, hand sanitizers are as effective as washing your hands with soap. But generally, it is better to use soap and water than hand sanitizer. You can also use hand sanitizers in addition to it which will give added protection.

Depending on the active ingredients used there are two types of hand sanitizers, alcohol-based sanitizers, and alcohol-free sanitizers. Alcohol-based sanitizers contain ethanol, Isopropanol, n-propanol. If soap and water are not available then opt for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It must kill certain types of microorganisms on the surface of your hands.

How Do Hand Sanitizers Work?

Hand sanitizers contain isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol or both. Alcohol-based sanitizers are known to kill bacteria and viruses on your hands by dissolving their protective outer layer and disrupting their metabolism. It is always advised to use hand sanitizers with a minimum of 60% alcohol in it and even hand sanitizers with up to 90% alcohol in it are preferable to use as it could completely kill all the microbes on your hands.

1. According to the CDC, Which Type of Sanitizers Are More Effective?
  • A. AAlcohol-based sanitizers
  • B. Alcohol-free sanitizers

There Are Some Cases When You Cannot Use Hand Sanitizers:

There Are Some Cases When You Cannot Use Hand Sanitizers

  • Studies show that hand sanitizers may not work effectively if your hands are covered with visible dirt or mud.
  • However in some cases, if your hands are covered with little mud or dust then your hand sanitizers might work, but it is always advised to use soap and water in most cases to wash your hands.
  • In case if your hands are fully covered with mud/grease then hand sanitizers are of no use and you must use soap and water to clean your hands.
  • According to the CDC, in a study, it is reported that the levels of pesticides have increased in the bodies of people who used hand sanitizers. So in case you have handled any chemicals, hand sanitizers might not be effective. In such cases, you must use soap and water.

How to Use Any Hand Sanitizer:

  • Take off all rings or jewelry that might be covering your hands.
  • Apply a generous amount of hand sanitizer on your hands.
  • Rub your hands gently all over your hands including fingers and areas around the nails.
  • Let your hands dry for about 30 seconds, allow the sanitizer to be absorbed.

Do Hand Sanitizers Have Expiry Dates?

Every hand sanitizer must have an expiration date according to the Food and Drug Administration(FDA). It is usually printed on the top or back of the sanitizers. It can also be used past its expiration date but it might not be very effective and safe.

How Long Do Hand Sanitizers Really Work?

Surprisingly, hand sanitizers really work for only 2 minutes. As soon as you use hand sanitizer, you might re-contaminate your hands once you touch any other objects. So even if it works for only 2 minutes, those few minutes are really important. It doesn’t matter if you have washed your hands only 20 minutes ago, make sure to wash your hands again, especially before eating.


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