This has been a rough cold, flu and norovirus (the latest bug to strike) season. We hear a lot about how important it is to defend ourselves by washing our hands, and if that’s not possible, to use those hand sanitizers. ABC News had an eye-opening story about how well hand sanitizers work. Research was done on a sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol and one labeled “natural” with no alcohol. Here are the highlights:
- The alcohol-based sanitizer worked dramatically better in killing bacteria.
- The key is to use enough sanitizer. Get your hands wet enough that they take at least 15 seconds to dry.
- Regular and antibacterial soap were found to be equally effective.
- While the soaps may be the same, it’s how you use them that’s crucial. Wash your hands for 5 seconds, and you might as well not wash them at all. It’s not nearly long enough.
- Wash your hands for a full 20 seconds to clean your hands AND get the bugs off.
The ABC News research found that soap kills more bacteria and viruses than sanitizers IF you wash for long enough. Can’t get to a sink to wash your hands? Sanitizers also do the trick, but look for one with at least 60 percent alcohol.