Hand washing is an effective way to reduce the spread of germs and deadly diseases. These days, we are lucky to have more than just one way of cleaning of our hands thanks to the invention of hand sanitisers.
Manufacturers advertise the use of these bottled gels as a substitute for the old-fashioned hand washing with soap and water. They say that it kills germs and efficiently cleans the hands. However, how much of this is true? How do hand sanitsers measure up against hand soaps? Do they really kill 99% of the germs in your hands? Let’s find out.
Time and again, traditional hand washing using soap and water has been proven to rid your hands of bacteria like c.difficile among others, which can lead to a debilitating disease. In order to ensure efficacy, hand washing must be done properly. But what is proper?
Proper hand washing includes using 1-3 ml of soap which you will work up to a lather, up to 20 seconds of scrubbing between your fingers, wrists, under the fingernails, and if possible, forearms, thorough rinsing, and the essential last step – drying.
Recent studies show that drying is crucial to the effectiveness of hand hygiene – the dampness of the hand has a correlation with the amount of bacteria it can transfer to surfaces. In other words, if you don’t dry your hands after washing, it remains or even becomes a better breeding ground for bacteria that is raring to spread.
Another interesting tidbit from these studies that you might want to give serious consideration to is refraining from rubbing your hands during the drying process. According to the authors of the study conducted at the University of Bradford, rubbing your hands together brings bacteria previously embedded into the skin back to the surface.
Your best bet for hand drying? Towels. Hand dryers are fine, however, most people rub their hands together to speed up the drying when using air dryers. With paper towels on the other hand, it is less likely for you to rub your hands together when drying with good ol’ paper towels.
Research shows that antibacterial soaps are just as effective as regular soaps in reducing the spread of infection. But you should be wary about the antibacterial soap you use — consumer antibacterial soap (not like the soaps used in hospitals) can increase bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Should you decide to get an antibacterial soap, it’s best to go with brands that clinical institutions and industrial workplaces trust.
Do hand sanitisers really kill 99% of germs like they claim? Yes. But not exactly on the hands. You see, these products are usually tested on inanimate surfaces and 99% claim is based on that. However, if tested on hands, the results will be different.
Does this mean that hand sanitisers are useless? No. Alcohol-based hand sanitisers are really effective at killing germs. As a matter of fact, plenty of doctors still recommend using them because they find them effective in preventing bacterial and viral infections, with few exceptions.
Hand sanitisers are a good substitute for when facilities are not available, however, it must not replace traditional hand washing with soap and water because there are more aggressive types of bacteria out there that it cannot eliminate.
Also, hand sanitisers are not as efficient as soap and water in cutting grime and grease. So if your hands are visibly dirty, it’s best to go the traditional route — if not, then you can get away with a few squirts of hand sanitiser until you get access to running water and soap.
The key ingredient is hand sanitiser is alcohol, which is an antiseptic. This does not mean you should grab just about any hand sanitiser with alcohol in it. Always opt for one with at least 60% concentration of alcohol — anything less is ineffective.
In addition to choosing the right product, it is also important to know how to use hand sanitisers properly. First, don’t be conservative with the amount; squirt two to three pumps of the product on the palm of your hand. Then rub it all over the hands’ surfaces including between the fingers and under the nails, and don’t stop until the product dries out.
If you are debating whether to invest in hand sanitisers or in hand soap dispensers, then there should be no debate. Get both if you want to keep your workers healthy and happy.
Proper hand hygiene will keep diseases at bay and boost productivity even on the dreaded flu months. All washrooms must be equipped with a hand soap dispenser to help promote the habit of hand washing.
As for hand sanitisers, they have a very significant place in your office — have them strategically placed by the doorways, by the elevators, other busy areas of the office, and floors with no immediate access to a washroom. With this option installed, it will be easier for workers to remember to clean their hands even in the middle of a hectic day.
Alsco can help you find the best hand hygiene products for your workplace. They offer hand soap dispensers, hand sanitisers, hand drying solutions, and more. Visit their website to see the full selection of products and equipment designed to keep your office clean and healthy. You can also speak with their friendly sales representatives when you call 1300 733 177.
Image Courtesy: Chlot’s Run