How Does Hand Sanitizer Work?

in Hand

You have probably heard that hand sanitizers are effective hand cleaners that kill germs and bacteria, but have you ever wondered how a simple alcohol-based hand sanitizer could be as effective as washing thoroughly with hand soap and water? Hand soap and water lift the germs off our skin and rinse them away while hand sanitizers merely kill the germs on contact. This is pretty remarkable, and the question is how?

Hand sanitizers are made up of ethyl alcohol, inactive additives such as water, other alcohols and fragrances. Ethyl alcohol is the active ingredient and is designed to kill germs. An important thing to know about ethyl alcohol is that it's only effective if the concentration of alcohol is between 60 and 95%. Any less than 60% will not be sufficient enough to kill germs and is pointless in using. Many experts advised that it's very important to look at the labels on hand sanitizers to make sure that you're getting a quality product with sufficient concentrations of alcohol.

There are two general types of rubbing alcohol: ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. Both types kill bacteria sufficiently but are not as effective on viruses. As the alcohol evaporates, it sucks out the insides of bacteria and viruses and kills them. However, the bacteria or viruses won't be dead until all the alcohol has evaporated. One thing to note is that isopropyl alcohol requires about 10 minutes on the skin's surface to kill bacteria, giving ethyl alcohol and advantage over isopropyl alcohol.

When you apply the hand sanitizer, be sure to rub every part of the skin on your hands thoroughly because this is what's going to kill the germs. Hand sanitizers will not get through bodily fluids, dirt, blood or other grime to kill germs. These things must be washed away before a hand sanitizer is applied. Also, the alcohol in hand sanitizer has a drying effect, so it's a good idea to use some type of hand or body lotion after using hand sanitizer. 

Author Box
Jodi M. has 1 articles online

About the Author
Jodi M. is a mom with a passion for keeping her family healthy. She highly recommends utilizing a full system approach to defending against the cold and flu. Her favorite product for ultimate prevention is a Hand Sanitizer Spray. Using a spray instead of a gel helps with absorption and makes it easier to apply to kids. And we all know that kids need to fight bacteria more than anyone! With the added benefit of aloe and acai your hands will never feel better! Doux Soleil makes a scientifically advanced hand sanitizer as part of a complete line of cold and flu products to help protect, support, fortify, and treat you and your family 365 days a year.

Add New Comment

How Does Hand Sanitizer Work?

Log in or Create Account to post a comment.
Security Code: Captcha Image Change Image
This article was published on 2010/03/30