5 Tips For Using Hand Sanitizer When Dining Out | Muse Health

5 Tips For Using Hand Sanitizer When Dining Out | Muse Health

  Germs and Protection       Safety and Usage  

With COVID regulations lightening up and occupancy limits lifting, restaurants are beginning to see an influx of customers as businesses return to normal. But just like any public place where many people are likely to gather, hand sanitizer is your best friend to defend your immune system when handwashing isn't an option. The CDC indicates that a simple application won't just bolster your defenses against the Coronavirus, but also a slew of other possible diseases lingering on tables and silverware. Here are five hand sanitizer tips to read before touching that fork at your favorite restaurants!

Bring a Small Bottle of Hand Sanitizer With You

Travel size hand sanitizer in purse

While this may seem obvious, most people do not pack sanitizer with them when they dine out. It’s important to come prepared with a small pocket bottle of hand sanitizer whenever you expect to touch surfaces others have touched, and restaurants are no exception. Although the staff are likely to do all they can to disinfect tables and chairs between customers, the best protection for your immune system begins with your own efforts. When handwashing isn't immediately available, sanitizing your hands remains one of the most effective solutions to keep yourself healthy in public environments. Check to make sure your sanitizer is packed next time you head out.

As a general rule of thumb: if you suspect you need to touch something others have touched, use hand sanitizer before and after your use. By disinfecting beforehand, you help to protect the next user from your own germs. By disinfecting afterwards, you eliminate most of the bacteria which may have hitched a ride in the process. Hand sanitizer is especially quick and easy to use, so don’t hesitate to apply it frequently!

Sanitizing before you enter any establishment—especially restaurants—is also a good practice for the same reason. By playing your part and removing any bacteria you might leave behind for others to pick up, you create a safer environment in the entire restaurant and reduce the spread of germs with your clean hands.

Disinfect the Table

Woman hand wiping table

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether or not your table has been wiped down properly with disinfectant before sitting. Thankfully, hand sanitizer can do the trick: simply squirt some onto a napkin, cloth, or paper towel, and rub the table until it is dry. If the table is large, focus primarily on the areas where you and the others at your table will eat and touch the surface. This will ensure residual food and germs are cleared from the table and bring peace of mind while dining. Be sure to do this before the food is served to prevent harmful chemicals from getting in your meal!

The silverware, too, can be cleaned with hand sanitizer, as these will be used frequently throughout the meal. Just like with your hands, remember to rub the sanitizer until it has completely dried—the extra friction can remove stubborn grime and bacteria clinging to the utensils. The 'air dry' method is not recommended for any type of sanitizer, whether used on your hands or the arms of a chair.

If at any point you grow uncomfortable with something you've touched at the table or need to clean after sneezing (sneezes can be unavoidable), wash your hands in the nearest available restroom before the food arrives. Proper hand washing with running water remains the most effective way to wipe the slate when it comes to clean hands.

Mind the Menu

Phone using QR code dining menu

Although many restaurants have practiced using disposable menus since reopening from COVID lockdown, not all take food safety as seriously as others. Plastic or laminated menus are likely to be reusable, and even paper menus may be repurposed for other tables by the staff, meaning your list of entrees might have been previously touched. A quick lather once you’ve decided on your order can clear away a number of germs remaining on your fingers and palms. Those are leftovers you don’t want to bring home with you, especially during a pandemic!

Alternatively, picking up the menu with a clean towel can bypass the bacteria which might linger on the surface.

Whenever possible, ask the waiter for a virtual menu option, or use your phone to browse the restaurant’s website. Many food businesses feature their cuisine options from their home page, meaning you won’t need to handle a physical menu at all. Even better, some restaurants utilize QR codes to quickly guide your smart device to the selections. Make use of these options to cut the corners and save on hand sanitizer!

Sanitize Before Eating

Man and child sanitizing before eating

If there is one use you should find for your hand sanitizer when dining out, it should be to sanitize your hands before you eat. The reason? You are likely going to touch your face more once your food is served than at any other point in your outing, especially if you need to touch your food. The eyes and mouth are especially welcoming to foreign bacteria, and with your mouth opening and closing as you chew, the back of your hand and your fingers are probably going to bump into your face at some point. By sanitizing before you even take the first bite, you’re significantly reducing the chances many different types of germs have to enter your body.

Don't forget to fully dry your hands before touching your food to prevent harmful chemicals from entering your mouth! Additionally, always remember to use a clean napkin to wipe food off of your mouth and face—especially do this for young children. The less points of contact between the hands and the face, the better.

Don’t Forget to Sanitize When You Leave!

Man sanitizing hands on the go

Despite all of your efforts, the last thing you want to do is take some carry-out foreign bacteria home with you! Because the majority of your surface contact stems from your palms and fingers while eating out, no other part of the body is better suited to be wiped clean than the hands. Even bringing bacteria into your car could provide a place for viruses to live and thrive; for this reason, make sure to sanitize your hands after exiting the restaurant and before climbing into your vehicle. The outside air will also dry the alcohol faster with your rubbing. Wash your hands when you get home to seal the deal!

The proper use of hand sanitizer comes about after establishing habits in your everyday life. Train yourself to sanitize after leaving any establishment or public place to best preserve your hand hygiene, health care, and body wellness from day to day. Using a quality ethyl alcohol (ethanol) sanitizer with nourishing oils and vitamins like Muse Health’s Fragrance-Free Hand Sanitizer will keep your hands from drying out after multiple consecutive uses, creating a long-term sanitizing solution for any family event.

Whether you’re heading out for a cordial cup of coffee or a family reunion dinner at a local restaurant, be sure to come prepared with hand sanitizer to keep your immune system happy and healthy!