Washing or sanitizing your hands to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus is among the recommendations by the WHO and CDC. With plenty of soaps, handwashes, and sanitizers in the market, it could be tricky to pick the most effective one, that is right for you. CDC states that the virus is transmitted from one person to another through airborne droplets. These pathogens can also land on hands, as well as surfaces that infected people might touch. Coming into contact with such a person or surface can transmit the virus. This is why authorities across the US are stressing the importance of hand hygiene, to combat the spread of the virus.
While washing hands properly is a crucial practice, water and soap are not always around or at your disposal when needed. This is where the alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help you disinfect your hands of potential viral pathogens.
What to Look for in Hand Sanitizers
Here are some of the things you should look for when buying a hand sanitizer.
Alcohol-based Hand Sanitizers
The presence of alcohol enables a hand sanitizer to kill several kinds of germs, both bacteria, and viruses. Alcohol targets their proteins to unfold and inactivate them. This process is called denaturation, where alcohol cripples and destroys the microbes, causing their proteins to unfold and stick to each other. A few proteins can be also denatured by heat — for instance, whenever an egg is cooked, the egg whites that are solidified are denatured proteins. Alcohol-based sanitizers can get rid of all sorts of germs, provided that the alcohol concentration is around 70 percent. One of the best alcohol-based sanitizers is the NewRain’s hand sanitizer gel. It has 75% alcohol content and is available in 100ml, 250ml, and 500ml bottles.
What is the best alcohol concentration level for hand sanitizers?
In case you are wondering if the highest concentration of alcohol would be the most effective against the germs, the answer is not necessarily. For protein denaturation to work faster, the alcohol needs to be diluted with water. Alcohol, in its pure form evaporates at a very high rate, which makes it less effective against microbes–especially during the winter months when the humidity levels are low. Undiluted alcohol also leaves the skin dry and irritated.
Check the List of Ingredients
Alcohol-based sanitizers are very effective against pathogens but some of the ingredients might cause skin irritations, if you have a certain skin type. Make sure to go through the list of ingredients on the back. You have to be careful, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Do Sanitizers have an Expiration Date?
Sanitizers have an expiration date and it should be marked on the bottle. If stored properly, most commercially available sanitizers are good for at least a couple of years. Bear in mind that as alcohol is volatile, it will gradually evaporate over time. This will lessen the sanitizer’s ability to kill germs. However, given the present rate of usage and demand, you are not likely to find one past its expiration date.
Are DIY Sanitizers a Good Option?
The majority of the recipes available on the internet use a combination of 91 to 99% rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol with aloe vera gel. It is essential to add a moisturizing element, as concentrated alcohol will cause skin dryness. In such recipes, the ratio is to mix two-thirds of isopropyl alcohol and one-thirds of aloe vera jelly.
As for the effectiveness of such DIY disinfecting amalgams, there is a high likelihood of miscalculation in the mixing process. Even after following the recipes, you may get the proportions wrong, which will render your concoction useless. Too much alcohol and it will cause skin dryness; too much gel and the diluted spirit will not kill the germs. That is why the best option is to prioritize your wellbeing and get a commercial product.
Following are the suggestions from the WHO and CDC about the proper use of hand sanitizers:
How to Properly Use a Hand Sanitizer
If you do not have access to water and soap to wash your hands adequately, hand sanitizers will get the job done effectively.
- Read the label, to check how much product you need to use. Then, squirt the gel on the palm of your hand.
- Rub your palms together.
- Apply the gel over the surface of both hands for 20 seconds at least, until the hands are dry.
Consistently sanitize or wash your hands properly before, during, and following preparation of meals and eating. Hands must be sanitized and washed after changing a diaper, using the toilet, touching animals and picking up their waste, and right after taking out the garbage. This practice should also be observed before and after handling wounds, blowing your nose, sneezing, coughing or coming into contact with someone unwell. Remember, the only way to effectively stay safe from COVID-19 is by following the recommended precautions.