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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Hand Sanitizers

By Joseph Parish

There has been a dramatic increase in the concern for washing hands since the Swine flu has hit the headlines. You now find hand sanitizing equipment in many public locations such as schools, hospitals, day care centers as well as in homes that previously had none what so ever. I imagine that the major question that is on most peoples mind is whether these various hand sanitizer products are worth the cost or a waste of time and money.

Research studies that have been conducted at a Tennessee University which indicate that most of the alcohol based gel and foam sanitizers work well for their intended purpose however there are some which are found on the store shelves or some of the homemade versions which tend to contain too little alcohol in order to be effective.

As a concerned and knowledgeable consumer it is your responsibility to read the label carefully before purchasing any of these products. Make certain that you check the bottles listed active ingredients. Even though you may find one of many different alcohols listed such as ethyl alcohol, isopropanol or ethanol it still actually contains alcohol and that is a plus in this case. The problem lays in the concentration levels. In order to be effective these levels should be in the vicinity of 60 to 95 percent, anything less in totally unacceptable.

We reside in a dollar generated society and everyone is out to make a “buck”. Unfortunately these techniques to make money are not always in our best interests. Take a quick test and visit one of your favorite stores. Pick up a bottle of hand sanitizer and look at the label. Chances are you will see listed 40 percent alcohol. To bacteria this is just as good as no alcohol what so ever.

You must read the labels as these cheaper version will look the same, perhaps have the same price tag and even make the same claims but they simply can not live up to their bacteria fighting expectations, to kill bacteria you need plenty of alcohol.

An example of a useless product is a child’s hand sanitizer which was created to smell like a popular bubble gum. This item has only 33 percent alcohol content which is much too low to be effective. In addition, you must be careful how the listing is worded. In this case they say they include a half a cup of 99 percent alcohol. At first glance that would seem to be good indications however when properly evaluated it actually equates to only the 33 percent listed above.

When cleaning your hands make certain to rub vigorously all sides with enough cleaner to get them damp and continue rubbing together until they appear dry. If this dry feeling occurs within les then 15 seconds you have not used enough cleaner.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish

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