Alcohol-based hand sanitizer has been around for years, but the research was never quite clear whether it was as effective against germs as washing your hands. The verdict is in, and it looks like hand sanitizer is at least as effective.
According to research performed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand sanitizer is considered as effective at killing germs as washing your hands with soap and water, unless hands are visibly soiled.
The main point to remember, however, is that the alcohol content of the handrub must be at least 60 percent to be effective.
To keep yourself and your family healthy, it's important to clean your hands, especially after you've used the restroom or prepared food. Vigorously washing your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds is still a tried and true method. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be a convenient alternative, however, as you can use them on-the-go--after you have been on public transportation, touched an animal or grocery cart, etc. The CDC recommends both hand sanitizing wipes and alcohol based gels.
- Be sure to use enough to cover all surfaces of your hands, including between your fingers, and rub your hands until they are dry.
Reynolds SA, Levy F, Walker ES. Hand sanitizer alert . Emerg Infect Dis. 2006 Mar. 17 Apr 2007.
Clean Hands Save Lives. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 22 Nov 2006. Department of Health and Human Services. 17 Apr 2007.