Does Hand Sanitizer Really Kill Germs?

Many families use hand sanitizer to combat germs, but some have doubted sanitizers' germ-fighting abilities. Our health expert cleans up myths on hand sanitizers and shares her tips on keeping your family healthy.

Using hand sanitizer is a good backup if you can't wash with soap and water.

A recent study showed that alcohol-based gels lose their germ-killing power within two minutes of application -- a finding that took many consumers by surprise. But hand sanitizers were never intended to shield skin from incoming bacteria and viruses; rather, they're made to eliminate germs on contact, much like soap and water do, says Megan T. Sandel, M.D., a nationally recognized expert on both healthy housing and teen health. Dr. Sandel has been a practicing pediatrician at Boston Medical Center and Children's Hospital for more than 10 years.

To ensure your hand sanitizer is sufficiently potent, look for a brand that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Just bear in mind that frequent hand cleaning -- whether with sanitizer or soap -- can dry out skin, creating tiny cracks that heighten the risk of infection. So be sure to moisturize regularly, as well.

Comments

Be the first to comment!


All Topics in Health Tips


Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.