Hand sanitizer works because of its high concentration of alcohol. However, it is not suitable for cleaning all types of dirt or soil. How one applies it can also affect its benefits.
Alcohol kills most bacteria, and hand sanitizer contains a high amount of alcohol. When it is rubbed on the hands for about 30 seconds, it really will eliminate many forms of bacteria and also many viruses. It has been proven very effective against some dangerous forms of bacteria, like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which can cause the deadly and frightening flesh-eating bacteria.
A person who uses hand sanitizer is also likely to show slower redevelopment of bacteria. People all have some bacteria on their hands at all times. Hand sanitizer tends to slow growth of the bacteria on the hands after appropriate use. It may not be equally effective in preventing all germs, since some viruses are spread through inhalation of the nasal droplets of infected persons, as with the common cold. However, use of sanitizer in schools is relatable to a drop in illness rates and better attendance records.
Another reason hand sanitizer may be more effective in some cases than hand washing, is that it is easier and quicker to use. Truly effective hand washing requires warm water, soap, and lathering and scrubbing for about two minutes. Hand sanitizer can be carried in small bottles, and takes about 30 seconds of scrubbing to achieve, in many cases, the same benefits as soap and water.
However, hand sanitizer is not effective for all cleaning needs. Certain bacteria make using it in hospital settings important. However, it cannot effectively clean the hands when they are exposed to blood or fecal matter.
Hand sanitizer is not effective in the food service industry, where the hands are kept wet frequently during food preparation. It cannot effectively remove fecal matter on the hands from poor hand washing after using the bathroom, or from the handling of vegetables grown in manure. Coming into contact with bodily fluids or with dirt requires a rigorous hand washing.
This product should also not replace hand washing in a hospital setting, or in any setting. In general, hand sanitizer provides the best results when used after one thoroughly washes one’s hands. This is particularly true after one uses the bathroom. Many hospitals have now instituted policies that require use of sanitizer between patients, and hand washing after four uses of it. Further, anytime a medical worker comes into contact with bodily fluids, the hands should be washed instead.
Hand sanitizer does not work effectively if it is not applied correctly. People need at least a dime size dollop, and should be able to scrub the hands together for 30 seconds. If the sanitizer dries in less time, it's likely that not enough was used, and the person should repeat the process.