As the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to spread throughout the world, practicing safety measures has become critical for everyone. Adhering to social distancing and masks mandates is more important than ever before, but so is washing your hands frequently.

However, when you are not able to access soap and water, the use of hand sanitizer is recommended by health professionals. As an accessible product that can easily fit into your pocket or bag. It’s the ideal alternative to scrubbing your hands underwater.

With that being said, hand sanitizers can only protect you from COVID-19 when you are utilizing them with essential tips in mind. To help you follow these suggestions, here is a guide to using hand sanitizers properly.

Select a Sanitizer That’s Recommended by Health Professionals

While there are many different types of hand sanitizers available in the market, not all of them are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. For instance, hand sanitizers that use benzalkonium chloride as a base ingredient can be commonly found in retail stores. But they perform poorly in protecting you against the novel coronavirus.

On the other hand, alcohol-based hand sanitizers have proven their efficacy in inactivating the virus that causes COVID-19. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also recommends the use of hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol to protect yourself against the novel coronavirus.

Fortunately, hand sanitizers that use alcohol as a base ingredient are one of the most widely available hand hygiene products. This makes them easy to find around the U.S. in typical conditions. With that being said, their high demand has caused shortages in some areas amid the COVID-19 outbreak. If you can’t find an alcohol-based sanitizer at your primary shopping location, make sure to look for it at another store instead of compromising on other product formulations.

Use It in Situations Where Hand Washing is Not Possible

While a hand sanitizer is an effective line of defense against the novel coronavirus, it should not be your first approach to clean your hands.

Instead, the CDC recommends that you use soap and water to wash your hands whenever possible, especially if they are visibly grimy or soiled. It is the most effective way to not only inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19 but also to wash any contaminants off of your hands.

However, in situations where you are not able to access soap and water, hand sanitizers can be a good approach to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus outbreak. When you use it with adherence to health and safety guidelines, it allows you to lower the spread of COVID-19.

Make sure that you are keeping a bottle of sanitizer ready with you when stepping out of your home for visits to public areas. Since pocket-sized or travel-sized variations are easily available for popular hand sanitizers, this tip is also quite easy to follow on an everyday basis.

Utilize Hand Sanitizers With Proper Guidelines in Mind

Since using a hand sanitizer does not wash off contaminants from your hands but inactivates germs and viruses, it is important that you use it with the utmost care. As such, it is critical to ensure that you rub the product all over the skin of your hands and do not leave any area untouched.

The closest example of using a hand sanitizer properly is applying it like a hand lotion. The major difference is that you need to keep a close eye on the amount recommended by the manufacturer for each use.

Keeping this in mind helps you follow the required steps with an added sense of ease.

How to Effectively Use Hand Sanitizers

  • Hold out your hand.
  • Pour the suggested amount of sanitizer at the center of your palm.
  • Close the bottle’s lid and put it away with your free hand.
  • Rub your hands together to spread the sanitizer between your palms.
  • Make sure to spread the sanitizer to your fingertips.
  • Move your palms on the back of your hands to continue spreading the sanitizer.
  • Rub the sanitizer between your interdigital folds or the place between your fingers.
  • Ensure that the sanitizer has evenly spread against the front and back of your hands.
  • Continue the process until the sanitizer dries out.

This process might seem lengthy at first, but it takes just 20-30 seconds to complete. It is enough time for the sanitizer formulation to react against the germs and viruses on your hands and inactivate them as a result.

It’s also imperative to ensure that you do not stop rubbing the sanitizer before it dries completely. This can cause the product to rub off of your hand if you touch anything else like your clothing or bag, and lower its efficacy as a result.

You Should Steer Away from Sanitizers in Certain Situations

Using a hand sanitizer in the proper way helps you inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19. But there are certain scenarios where using a sanitizer doesn’t help to the extent that it should.

For instance, if your hands are visibly dirty, then hand washing is the only option to clean them off of all contaminants. Using a sanitizer on your skin when it’s covered by other elements can stop the sanitizer from doing its job. This can give you a false sense of protection and put you at risk.

On a similar note, if you work in an environment that is ridden with chemicals, it is important that you wash them off of your hand using soap and water. This helps you steer clear of associated reactions. If you use hand sanitizers on your skin while it has chemicals on it, it can cause adverse effects and also render the sanitizer ineffective.

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure to use hand sanitizers safely, effectively, and properly. When you use this practice with other recommended measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and washing your hands, it can help you lower the spread of COVID-19.