5 Signs Your Hand Sanitizer Isn’t Really Effective

5 Signs Your Hand Sanitizer Isn’t Really Effective

Due to the outbreak of pandemic, people take extra care by using antiseptic products, gels and sanitizer to protect themselves against Coronavirus. Keeping your hands clean is the most essential practice to prevent the spread of infection. Washing hands with antibacterial soap and water before eating and after activities like using the bathroom, touching a wound, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose etc., is efficacious in killing germs and microbes. But if water and soap is not in reach then alcohol based hand sanitizers play a significant role in disinfecting your hands and have the potential to deactivate many germs.  Many recent studies have shown that sanitizers manufactured with 60-95% of alcohol are effective enough to provide a safety shield.

When to apply Hand Sanitizer?

The best approach is to go for hand sanitizers only when you do not have availability of hand wash with water such as during travelling. Hand sanitizers are portable and can easily be carried in a bag but one must avoid using hand sanitizer when their hands are visibly soiled, dirty, greasy and stained, when you touch chemicals, and also when you are having the flu and blow/clean your nose with your hands.

Efficacy of Hand Sanitizer

Below mentioned are some of the indications that hand sanitizer you are using is not up to mark and does not carry the potential to offer intended protection.

  • If applying on stained hands
  • Hand sanitizers are intended to provide shield to clinical facilities like health care workers in hospitals where sinks are soaps are not available all the time. Whereas if your hands are soiled or greasy due to cooking, doing garbage, playing sport, gardening, fishing or any such activity then hand sanitizers is not proven to be effective in killing bacteria. The grease and dirt act as frictional layers for hand sanitizers and do not let it work well on hands. 

  • If it does not contain alcohol
  • Germs are not killed outright with non alcoholic sanitizers. Hand sanitizer made without alcohol merely just reduces the germ growth instead of killing it. Non alcoholic sanitizers containing benzalkonium chloride as an active agent instead of alcohol are recommended to avoid at all cost as they are not effective for disinfection purposes . FDA also recommends consumers to use only alcohol based sanitizers containing at least 60% of alcohol (ethanol) as an active component. Sanitizers made from essential oils are not efficient against Covid as they do not contain alcohol concentration to break the microbial shield of the germ.

  • Advertised as a solution for Covid-19
  • There was a noted reduction in supply of hand sanitizers when pandemic broke out earlier. The sanitizers were flying off the stores and multiple fake manufacturers penetrated the markets. Therefore FDA made laws for unlicensed organizations to register themselves for making alcohol based sanitizer products. So it is recommended to use those products which state alcohol quantity and effective ingredients rather than promoting their tag as “protection against CoronaVirus” , or any other virus.

  • Expiration date is passed or unavailable
  • Expiry date is mostly printed on the back or top of the bottle. You must view the expiry date before buying the sanitizer because it shows the stability time of ingredients used in sanitizer. Typical time span is 2 to 3 years before the product expires. So if a sanitizer does not contain an expiry date or has passed its expiry date then it is a good approach to buy a new bottle.

  • Kept in humidity for so long
  • If not kept in stable room temperature. Sanitizers can lose their potency with time. It is recommended to store sanitizer bottles in environments where temperature is below 105 Fahrenheit. So for it to work effectively do not keep it in humid conditions like inside a car and rather bring it in steady temperature.

    Following factors must be kept in mind when you shop sanitizers. You can choose those alcohol based sanitizers that also contain building blocks like glycerin and aloe vera to avoid skin dryness. 

    A few key points that can help in identification of good sanitizers, are as follows:

    • Product must be labelled to have alcohol concentration
    • Sanitizers have been tested and approved
    • Manufactured in registered facility
    • Does not contain microbial contamination

    Final Thoughts

    Hand sanitizers are flammable and must be given time to completely dry after application, especially before doing any activity which involves heat or flames. It is also strongly forbidden to make hand sanitizers at home because , if not properly made, it can cause skin burns and infections. Although hand washing is preferred over hand sanitizers but if there comes a situation where you have no facility of hand washing then follow proper step by step guidelines of applying sanitizer on hands. You can also perform some quality checks at home to test the originality and effectiveness of hand sanitizers.