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How well do we know what hand sanitizers are? We’ve been using them long before the pandemic happened as hand sanitizers are convenient to carry around. We sometimes use them as an alternative to water and soap, in places where the latter is inaccessible. Now in the midst of the pandemic, most have resorted to stocking up on hand sanitizers. But how much do we really know about them?

First, let’s define what a hand sanitizer is. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “an alcohol-containing preparation (liquid, gel, or foam) designed for application to the hands to inactivate microorganisms and/or temporarily suppress their growth. Such preparations may contain one or more types of alcohol, other active ingredients with excipients, and humectants.” In 1966, hand sanitizers came into existence in healthcare facilities and were popularized significantly in the early 1990s.

Given the definition, there are certain facts about hand sanitizers that we may not be aware of.

Indulge in this list and find out how many of these you know.

  1. Hand sanitizers are best used when hands are not soiled or greasy. Studies have shown that sanitizers are not as effective because they cannot remove soil, dirt, and lubrication. What they do is that they make hands sticky, which will only attract more dirt.
  2. The alcohol content must be at least 60% (up to 95%), and should be in the form of ethyl alcohol (ethanol), or isopropanol. Other forms of alcohol are considered toxic to humans.
  3. Alcohol-free formulations such as SAB (surfactant, allantoin, and BAC) also show effectiveness to an extent. Adding alcohol to non-alcohol sanitizers does not make it effective. If any, it makes it even more ineffective.
  4. Hand sanitizers are not an alternative to hand washing. Surprised? It is actually more effective when combined with hand washing.
  5. Proper sanitizing of hands requires that the recommended amount should cover the entire surface of both hands. Rub your hands together and make sure the sanitizer is spread evenly. Don’t forget to cover especially the fingertips as the fingertips are the most in contact with surfaces.
  6. An alcohol-based sanitizer can work up to 6 hours. This should not give off a sense of complacency. It’s best if all safety precautions are observed and practiced, to ensure that hands are not contaminated.
  7. Hand sanitizers should be stored away from the sight and reach of children. They should also be stored in temperatures below 105F. Ensure proper storage to avoid any mishaps.
  8. Hand sanitizers are flammable too. When rubbed on hands, make sure hands are absolutely dry before engaging in activities that involve “heat, sparks, static electricity, or open flames”.
  9. A hand sanitizer is considered a drug. It is regulated as an over-the-counter (non-prescription) drug by the US FDA.)
  10. Hand sanitizers that don’t have an expiration date should be considered expired after 3 years.

How many did you tick off this list? To replenish your stock, you can find hand sanitizers available here.