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Do hand sanitisers work?

17th March 2020

With the current global health pandemic, everyone is looking to up their personal hygiene and protect themselves as best they can. A product that is flying off the shelves is hand sanitiser, as people try to kill germs when they’re not able to wash their hands. At UK meds, we have travel-size bottles of hand sanitisers available for only £4.99! But plenty of people wonder if they actually work?

Do hand sanitisers work?

Hand sanitisers work to kill the majority of germs on the hands and are extremely efficient at eliminating bacteria. In order for a hand sanitiser to be effective, it must contain at least 60% alcohol content though, as lower than this will not contain the necessary cleaning properties.

It’s important to bear in mind that hand sanitisers do not kill all germs though. While they quickly reduce the number of microbes on the hands, they are not able to eliminate all of them, which is why other hygiene practises are important, even when using a hand sanitiser gel. This includes regular hand washing and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

The clue is in the name when it comes to hand sanitiser; they are designed to sanitise, not wash. If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy then they may not work as well, as they work on bacteria and not dirt. It’s important to use hand sanitiser in conjunction with regular hand washing to eliminate dirt as well as germs.

How to use hand sanitiser

Make sure that your hand sanitiser contains at least 60% alcohol content. There are also some effective alcohol-free hand sanitisers, but these are less common.

If you are in a situation where you’re unable to wash your hands but may have come into contact with bacteria or germs then apply enough gel to cover both hands completely (front and back) and rub in until it disappears. This usually takes about 20 seconds.

Frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitiser can leave the skin on your hands feeling dry so you may wish to apply a hand cream to nourish and moisturise the skin. We would recommend Aveeno Daily Moisturising Hand Cream or Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hand Cream, which you can buy from UK Meds with next day delivery.

How to wash your hands efficiently

For times when soap and water is available, you should still opt for this over hand sanitiser, as it removes any grime or dirt as well as bacteria. To wash your hands efficiently, it’s important to make sure you wash them for long enough (20-30 seconds is the normal recommendation).

Make sure to wash the places you may forget, including in between the fingers, the knuckles and the wrists. You should also scrub behind the nails as germs can easily build up here. For this reason, it’s also best to keep nails neat and trimmed. For other hygiene best practises, you can read our previous blog post; Top 10 health & hygiene tips.