Does Hand Sanitizer Work For Viruses, Especially The Coronavirus?


Does hand sanitizer work for viruses, especially novel coronavirus? Read to find out the effectiveness of hand sanitizers and the importance of washing hands

Written By Kashyap Vora | Mumbai | Updated On:
does hand sanitizer work for viruses

Coronavirus' outbreak, has become a global concern with a lot of countries being affected by the virus. Everyone is trying to adopt several precautionary measures to prevent themselves from falling prey to this virus, like wearing a mask while commuting in public transport. Another basic precautionary measure which is majorly advised to be undertaken is to frequently clean one's hands using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when one is on-the-go.

However, hand sanitizers are less effective in comparison to washing your hands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Everyone should learn when to use hand sanitizers and when to wash one's hands instead. The knowledge for this will surely help you protect yourself from viruses including the COVID-19.

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How does hand sanitizer work?

One can clean their hands using hand sanitizers when water and soap are not available. Most of the hand sanitizers are made up of ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol. Both of them help kill bacteria and virus present on the hands. The use of alcohol in various products for killing germs has been a common practice. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended everyone to use hand sanitizers which have at least 60% alcohol in them. According to them, any hand sanitizer which has lower alcohol concentrations are not effective enough to kill the germs. A sanitizer with 90% alcohol is rather preferable to make sure that it completely kills the germs and is not just reducing the growth of germs on your hands.

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Hand Sanitizer vs Soap

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended the use of hand sanitizer as an alternative when you do not have soap and water around. Just like WHO and CDC, the National Institutes of Health also recommends everyone to prioritise washing their hands whenever it is possible. 

When should hand sanitizers be used?

According to the CDC, one should ideally never use hand sanitizer with dirty or greasy hands and should rely on trying to find soap and water instead. Hand sanitizers serve the purpose in hospitals and clinics when you are visiting someone in the hospital, using hand sanitizer is preferable after your visit as it can help prevent the spread of diseases. However, the CDC still suggests you to still wash your hands.

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Does hand sanitizer work for viruses?

Hand sanitizers have alcohol which works in the majority of scenarios, but it does not work with all kinds of viruses and bacterias. Hand sanitizers might seem like an upgrade to soaps. However, soaps are much more effective when used regularly in comparison to hand sanitizers. The CDC is also majorly propagating the use of soaps over hand sanitizers.

Also Read | Health: All You Need To Know About Hand Sanitisers And Their Application

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