The Scoop on Hand Sanitizers: How Safe and Effective Are They?

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They’ve become ubiquitous at school functions, workplaces, even hospitals. But the safety and efficacy of hand sanitizers has come into question a lot in the past few years. So, what’s the bottom line?

Alcohol-based sanitizers aren’t a magic bullet to eliminate every type of germ but if you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, they’re a good alternative. In fact, sanitizers containing 60 to 95 percent ethyl alcohol are more effective and faster acting than those based on other chemicals like chlorhexidine and triclosan.

Are You Using Hand Sanitizer Correctly?

It seems like a no-brainer: just take a squirt in your hand and rub, right? But, actually, most people aren’t using hand sanitizer correctly, either not using enough or wiping it off before it’s dried. Be sure that you—or your family—take a generous squirt, rub, and let it air dry.

Also, keep in mind: research shows that hand sanitizers don’t work as well when hands are very dirty or greasy. When kids have been playing in mud or dirt, for example, soap and water is the better choice. For a fun guide to hand-washing, see our crawler to do list.

Do Hand Sanitizers Promote Resistant Bacteria?

There has been concern about some hand sanitizers that contain benzalkonium chloride contributing to resistant bacteria. And be very wary of anything containing the chemical Triclosan, which was found in a 2006 review to increase the risk of antibiotic-resistant E. coli and salmonella.

Go the Natural Route

2oz-hand-sanitizer-4California Baby just launched its brand new hand sanitizer, made with the safer, sugar-based ethyl alcohol, essential oils of lemon and lime, rounded out with fresh lemon myrtle which also calms and removes unpleasant odors. This refreshing, non-sticky hand sanitizer is great for the whole family. It dries quickly and requires no rinsing.

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