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Advantages of Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

By Julie Hampton ; Updated July 18, 2017

Since 1995, the use of alcohol hand sanitizer has increased in the healthcare field as well as the general public. According to a 2003 article in "Infection Control Today," most alcohol hand sanitizers contain approximately 60 to 95 percent ethanol or isopropanol alcohol. Gels, rinses and foams are different types of alcohol hand sanitizer available. A variety of advantages exist for alcohol hand sanitizers over regular hand washing; yet, you should always was grossly soiled hands with water and antimicrobial soap, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s hand hygiene guidelines.

Convenience

Use of an alcohol sanitizer is convenient. You can transport bottles in your pocket, purse, car or simply keep a small amount at a workstation or desk. Water and a sink are not always immediately available--including in a classroom setting or at a public sporting event. Avoid the trouble of finding a sink and washing hands or waiting in long lines in the restroom by simply carrying a small portion of sanitizer with you. The CDC recommends cleaning hands before and after eating, when preparing food or when hands are potentially contaminated with bodily fluids.

Less Time

Applying hand sanitizer takes less time than washing with antimicrobial soap. Using a hand sanitizer takes about 15 seconds, according to the website Dr. Green. Washing hands takes much longer--you must scrub your hands with water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds and then dry them.

Better at Killing Germs

Using an alcohol-based sanitizer is more effective in reducing the spread of rotavirus, adenovirus and rhinovirus compared with medicated and non-medicated hand soaps according to studies cited by the CDC. Sanitizers studied included those with 70 percent alcohol. Pathogens, such as gram-negative bacilli, were less likely to transfer from patients when healthcare workers used hand sanitizers instead of regular hand washing.

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