UNITED STATES – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is using their website and social media platforms to post news about COVID-19 prevention, including how and when to use hand sanitizer outside your home.
Their overall sentiment is simple enough; clean hands save lives, and help stop the spread of COVID-19. But when should you use sanitizer, and when should you just wash your hands? The CDC has this to say in their “Show me the Science” tab.
“CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs and chemicals on hands. But if soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.”
The CDC website says alcohol-based sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but do not eliminate all types of germs.
“Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can inactivate many types of microbes very effectively when used correctly, people may not use a large enough volume of the sanitizers or may wipe it off before it has dried.”
The information from the CDC says hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy, and sanitizers may not remove harmful chemicals like pesticides or heavy metals. They added that when soap and water are not available, sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol should be used.
“Many studies have found that sanitizers with an alcohol concentration between 60–95% are more effective at killing germs than those with a lower alcohol concentration or non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Hand sanitizers without 60-95% alcohol 1) may not work equally well for many types of germs; and 2) merely reduce the growth of germs rather than kill them outright.”
While no specific type of alcohol is listed as preferred on the CDC website, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is keeping a list of recalled hand-sanitizers due to safety concerns. As of Aug. 25, there were 165 hand sanitizers listed, most of which contain potentially dangerous methanol or propanol contamination.
Most reputable sanitizer companies use isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. SaniGo, a veteran-owned small business producing USA made sanitizer in Indianapolis, IN., formulated their industrial antiseptic hand rub in accordance with FDA regulations.
“It was very important to us to not cut corners when it comes to customer safety,” SaniGo Business Development Manager Jordan Mendenhall said. “We genuinely care about your family, that’s why our sanitizer is made is 75 percent isopropyl alcohol.”
Mendenhall added hand sanitizer is for external use only, and should never be ingested. The CDC website says from 2011-2015, U.S. Poison Control Centers received close to 85,000 calls concerning hand sanitizer exposure in children.
“Children may be particularly likely to swallow hand sanitizers that are scented, brightly colored, or attractively packaged. Hand sanitizers should be stored out of the reach of young children and should be used with adult supervision.”
For more information about proper hand sanitizer use during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the CDC website.