Hand sanitizers have become an essential part of our daily lives. However, not all hand sanitizers are created equal, and not all germs can be killed using them. While hand sanitizers come in handy when you don’t have access to soap and water, it doesn’t mean that they can kill every microbe out there.
So, what germs does hand sanitizer not kill? Here are some surprising facts:
1. Hand sanitizers are not effective against all types of germs
Hand sanitizers generally work best for common bacteria and viruses like the flu, common cold, and gastroenteritis. However, they may not be effective against other types of germs such as:
- Norovirus – This is a highly contagious virus that causes stomach inflammation and diarrhea. Hand sanitizers may not effectively kill Norovirus.
- Cryptosporidium – This is a parasite that causes diarrheal disease. It is resistant to many disinfectants, including most hand sanitizers.
- Clostridium difficile – This is a bacterium that can cause severe diarrhea and intestinal inflammation. Hand sanitizers are not effective against it.
2. Some hand sanitizers contain harmful chemicals
Not all hand sanitizers are created equal. Some contain harmful chemicals that can have adverse effects on your health. Triclosan is a common ingredient found in hand sanitizers that can cause hormonal imbalances, decrease muscle strength, and weaken the immune system.
Additionally, some hand sanitizers contain high levels of alcohol, which can cause skin irritation and dryness. It’s essential to choose a hand sanitizer that is safe and effective for regular use.
3. Hand sanitizers are not a substitute for handwashing
Although hand sanitizers are a convenient way to clean your hands, they are not a substitute for good old-fashioned handwashing. While hand sanitizers can kill some germs, washing your hands with soap and water is still the most effective way to get rid of germs and bacteria.
Furthermore, hand sanitizers do not remove dirt, grime, or other substances that may be present on your hands. Soap and water are necessary for cleaning these substances off your hands.
4. Hand sanitizers can build resistance
Using hand sanitizers frequently can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Overuse and aggressive use of hand sanitizers can cause bacteria to mutate and become resistant to the active ingredients in hand sanitizers, making them less effective in preventing infections.
It’s essential to use hand sanitizers responsibly and as directed.
5. Hand sanitizers can be flammable
Hand sanitizers are usually alcohol-based, which means they are highly flammable. If exposed to heat, sparks, or flames, hand sanitizers can catch fire and cause severe burns or injuries.
It’s essential to follow proper precautions when using hand sanitizers, such as keeping them away from heat and flames, and avoiding smoking while using them.
Hand sanitizers are undoubtedly effective in killing some germs and bacteria. However, they are not a panacea for all types of germs and are not a substitute for good hand hygiene.
It’s essential to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, use hand sanitizers responsibly and as directed, and choose a safe and effective hand sanitizer that contains no harmful ingredients.
Most Common Questions and Answers
- Q: What germs does hand sanitizer not kill?
- A: Hand sanitizers may not be effective against certain types of germs, including Norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridium difficile.
- Q: Are hand sanitizers safe to use?
- A: Hand sanitizers are generally safe to use. However, some may contain harmful chemicals like triclosan that can have adverse effects on your health.
- Q: Can I use hand sanitizers instead of washing my hands?
- A: Hand sanitizers are a convenient way to clean your hands, but they are not a substitute for washing your hands with soap and water.
- Q: Can I get resistant to hand sanitizers?
- A: Overuse and aggressive use of hand sanitizers can cause bacteria to mutate and become resistant to the active ingredients in hand sanitizers, making them less effective in preventing infections.
- Q: What precautions should I take when using hand sanitizers?
- A: Hand sanitizers are highly flammable, so it’s essential to keep them away from heat and flames and avoid smoking while using them.
1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Hand Hygiene Recommendations. https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/when-how-hand-hygiene.html
2. Our World in Data. (2021). Covid Data Explorer. https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data-explorer?yScale=log&zoomToSelection=true&time=earliest..latest&country=USA~GBR~CAN~AUS®ion=World&casesMetric=true&interval=daily&perCapita=true&smoothing=0&pickerMetric=total_cases&pickerSort=desc
3. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Hand Sanitizers: Do They Help Stop All Germs? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infectious-diseases/expert-answers/hand-sanitizer/faq-20459020