Hand sanitizers have become easily accessible thanks to companies selling bottles that are small enough to put it in your pocket or have a clip that can be attached to bags. Hand sanitizers provide a lot of benefits such as convenience and helping stop the spread of illness causing diseases.
While hand sanitizers are great to have everywhere you go, not all brands will do the job. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends to always choose to wash your hands with soap and water when it is available, but if you are unable to clean your hands with water you must use a hand sanitizer that has a high concentration of alcohol.
Studies have found that hand sanitizers can only be effective in killing germs if you use sanitizers that contain 60% to 95% alcohol. Alcohol can be listed on the hand sanitizer bottle as ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Hand sanitizers that have less than 60% alcohol may reduce the growth of bacteria but it will not kill them.
The Clinical Microbiology Reviews has done a study that found that ethanol, isopropanol, and n-propanol can only kill bacteria if it is 60% to 85% concentration. Viruses and disease causing bacteria have an outer layer that protects the cell, which is why you need a higher concentrated hand sanitizer to kill it.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants can dissolve the membrane that guards the protein that keeps the bacteria alive. The way hand sanitizers are used always plays a major role in stopping the spread of viruses among people.
Due to a frequent shortage in hand sanitizers, some manufacturers have been selling hand sanitizers that are not effective in killing bacteria and people have started to use them the wrong way.
This guide will help you know how to use hand sanitizers, what active ingredients to look for, and the best hand sanitizer dispenser in Canada.
How to use hand sanitizers effectively
It is an important reminder that while hand sanitizers are more convenient than going to the restroom and washing your hands with soap and water, it is not as effective on hands that are greasy or soiled.
If you try to use a hand sanitizer on greasy or visibly dirty hands, the alcohol will not be able to penetrate through soiled hands that became dirty from eating oily food, working in the garden, or just finished playing sports. That is why the CDC recommends to always wash your hands with soap and water when it is available for 20 to 30 seconds, while making sure to rub the palms, get under the fingernails, rub between the fingers by interlocking them, and reach all the way up to your wrists.
To effectively use hand sanitizers you must follow the general guidelines and they are the following:
- Purchase alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% concentration. Natural hand sanitizers or low concentrated alcohol will not kill germs, only the recommended types will protect your skin.
- Apply an amount that will cover your entire hands. The shortage of hand sanitizers has made people try to use less to save it or try to mix it with water but that will only dilute it and make it a lot less effective. If you don’t cover every bit of your hands with sanitizer you will not kill all of the bacteria. An easy way to remember this is to think of using hand sanitizers the same way you use soap.
- Rub the hand sanitizer everywhere on your hands and make sure you are rubbing it between your fingers as well. Keep rubbing the sanitizer until it is completely dry. Do not wipe off the sanitizer, it must evaporate to ensure that it kills the bacteria.
- Do not use hand sanitizer that has expired or has a broken lid. The alcohol inside hand sanitizer will evaporate over time and become ineffective in completely killing the bacteria. Make sure you are using hand sanitizer that has a tightly secured lid to avoid accidentally using a bottle that won’t sanitize your hands.
These general rules are important to follow when using a hand sanitizer to minimize the risk of spreading viruses and diseases.
Which hand sanitizer active ingredients to look for and which to avoid
Since stores have been dealing with shortage in hand sanitizers, some companies have begun using active ingredients that are not safe to use on the skin. There are non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers and alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Hand sanitizers who don’t use alcohol will have an active ingredient called benzalkonium chloride that is commonly used in disinfectants. Benzalkonium chloride is considered to be less irritating on the skin than alcohol, but it could cause dermatitis and it is not as effective in killing bacteria.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are preferred to be used to reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, regardless of the side effects that it has on the skin such as excessive drying that will often lead to it breaking and bleeding. Hand sanitizers that are made with alcohol are also more affordable and it is the only type hospitals use.
The active ingredient in alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be listed as ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, or n-propanol. It will also include additional ingredients known as humectants. Humectants provide an important purpose, which is to prevent the skin from dehydrating and keeping the alcohol from evaporating quickly.
To fight against bacteria, you must use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% for optimal efficacy. To damage the membrane and the inside of the cell, you need to use the highest concentrated hand sanitizer.
Health Canada has recalled a list of hand sanitizers that are harmful for the body such as Eltraderm Hand Sanitizer, Gel 700 Hand Sanitizer, Sanilabs Hand Sanitizer, and Walker Emulsions Hand Sanitizer. These hand sanitizers contain industrial-grade ethanol, which are chemicals that are not approved to use.
Hand sanitizers are approved if they are made with United States Pharmacopeia (USP) or food grade ethanol. Some hand sanitizers that are made with technical-grade ethanol have been approved temporarily due to the increased demand. Technical-grade ethanol cannot be used on children, skin that is broken or has a damage, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Industrial-grade ethanol is a risk on your health and has a lot of impurities. Using unauthorized hand sanitizers could lead to chemical poisoning. If you think you have used products that may have contained industrial-grade ethanol it is recommended that you contact your doctor. Some symptoms of chemical poisoning include dizziness, headache, and blurred vision.
Some homemade hand sanitizer recipes have gone viral online as a result of stores running out of stock on sanitizers. The recipe suggests mixing vodka with aloe vera but that will not be effective in killing viruses. Vodka only has 40% of alcohol and you will need 60% or more to reduce the growth of bacteria.
To make sure if what you are using is approved by Health Canada you can check the product labels for authorized hand sanitizers with the Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN) listed on it.
The best hand soap and hand sanitizer dispensers in Canada
When choosing a hand soap and hand sanitizer dispenser to install in your home, office, or businesses you must choose an automatic dispenser that has a smart sensor. The last thing you need is to turn the surface of the dispenser into a home for bacteria.
Installing a dispenser is the best way to avoid spending a lot of money on soap and hand sanitizers. You will need to buy the products in bulk, which will save you a lot of money, as well as reducing the risk of running out. Manufacturers are known to sell a bulk of hand soap and sanitizer cheaper than bottles.
Here is a list of the best automatic dispensers in Canada:
Kleenex – hand soap and sanitizer dispenser
Kleenex offers a hand soap and sanitizer dispenser that allows users to refill it with 1200 ml of liquid. It works without needing to press a button that dispenses the product to help eliminate the risk of cross contamination and the spread of bacteria.
It is efficient, reliable, and comes in a sleek black color or white.
Georgia-Pacific – Touch Free Dispenser
Georgia-Pacific is another great option for an automatic dispenser that can be mounted anywhere. It is large enough to fill it up with 3000 ml of soap or sanitizer liquid.
This dispenser helps to minimize wasting the product by delivering the accurate amount to wash or sanitize the hands. It is also extremely durable and easy to install.
You will need to use 8 AA batteries to ensure this dispenser works properly.
LTX – Automatic hand cleaner dispenser
LTX hand cleaner dispenser is famously known for being extremely durable and can last a long time. It can hold up to 1200 ml of liquid soap and sanitizer.
The dispenser operates automatically to reduce the risk of touching it and spreading illness-causing bacteria.