According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), washing your hands with soap is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. This is especially important in healthcare settings. While the general rule of thumb is to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water, in certain situations, hand sanitizer may be sufficient. Find out when you should use hand sanitizers over traditional hand washing with tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Clean®.
FACTS ABOUT ALCOHOL-BASED SANITIZERS
According to the CDC, when used properly, sanitizers with an alcohol concentration of 60 percent or higher can effectively eliminate a variety of microbes. However, the product may fail to kill specific kinds of germs including Clostridium difficile, norovirus and Cryptosporidium. Furthermore, hand sanitizer may not remove all harmful substances such as heavy metals, visible dirt and pesticides. That’s why it should only be used to kill germs in between hand washing or at times where clean water and soap are not readily accessible.
NON-ALCOHOL-BASED VS. ALCOHOLIC-BASED SANITIZERS
There are multiple types of hand sanitizers, including non-alcohol and alcohol-based products. Alcohol-based sanitizers contain varying amounts of alcohol, and the greater the alcohol content, the more effective the product will be at reducing germs. The CDC advises that non-alcohol-based sanitizers may not be as effective as alcohol-based ones because of the following reasons:
- Some germs can eventually develop a resistance to non-alcohol-based sanitizers
- Rather than killing germs, non-alcohol-based sanitizers may only reduce their growth rate
- Non-alcohol-based sanitizers aren’t as effective at reducing or eliminating certain types of germs
- Non-alcohol-based sanitizers are more likely to irritate skin than alcohol-based sanitizers
- If you choose to use a hand sanitizer, make sure it has an alcohol content that’s between 60 and 95 percent. That way, you’ll be more likely to eliminate germs without developing a resistance or irritating your skin.
WHEN TO USE HAND SANITIZER OVER HAND WASHING
Hand sanitizers offer a practical solution for people who frequently come into contact with germs. According to the CDC, you should use hand sanitizer over traditional hand washing in the following circumstances:
- When soap or water isn’t readily available
- Before and after visiting someone in the hospital or a nursing home
- hand If your hands are visibly dirty or greasy, hand sanitizer is not going to be effective. In these situations, it’s best to stick with standard hand washing procedures.
HOW TO PROPERLY USE HAND SANITIZER
In order for hand sanitizer to work properly, you must use it correctly. Follow these steps to effectively eliminate germs with hand sanitizer:
- Apply about a nickel to a quarter-size amount of hand sanitizer to your palm, or enough of the substance to cover the entire surface of your hand.
- Rub your hands together for about 20 to 30 seconds, or until dried.
- Refrain from wiping or rinsing off sanitizer before the product has fully dried.
Maintaining a clean and sanitary healthcare facility is of the utmost importance, and educating staff about how to practice good hand hygiene can go a long way in preventing the spread of germs, infections and diseases. Ensuring that your facility remains clean, sanitized, and disinfected as needed by a professionally trained team on a regular basis can also make a tremendous difference. For a full cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of your healthcare facility, call the experts at ServiceMaster Clean. We can work with you to develop a comprehensive cleaning routine that follows best practices and procedures set forth by governmental healthcare organizations. Contact us today at 810-659-4013 to learn more about our commercial healthcare cleaning services.