How to Prevent Germs and Bacteria from Spreading

If soap and water aren't available, use a hand sanitizer to kill germs

Credit: Flickr / Andrew Braithwaite

If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer to kill germs

Regular handwashing is by far your best defence against illness-causing bacteria and cold- or flu-causing viruses. But what do you do when soap and water are not readily available?

Use a hand sanitizer.

Used as a stop-gap measure between regular handwashings, hand sanitizers can be a valuable aid in heading off potential bacterial or viral infections, especially during cold and flu season.

Choosing a Hand Sanitizer

The active ingredient in most hand sanitizers is alcohol (ethyl alcohol, ethanol or isopropanol), which kills virtually all bacteria and viruses on contact.

Select a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% alcohol content, and look for a formulation that includes a moisturizer, as alcohol is very drying to the skin.

How to Use Hand Sanitizers

  1. Squeeze a dime-sized dollop of hand sanitizer in the middle of your palm
  2. Rub and wring your hands vigourously for 30 seconds
  3. Coat your hands thoroughly, including the nail beds
  4. Ensure gel has evaporated completely.

Hand Sanitizers Safe for Kids?

Hand sanitizers can pose a poison hazard if ingested. It is crucial for young children to be carefully supervised until hand sanitizer gel evaporates completely from their hands.

Also ensure that hand sanitizers (and any product containing alcohol) is safely stored out of their reach.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.