Hand Sanitizer Mistakes You're Probably Making | Muse Health

Hand Sanitizer     Correct Use     Hands     Safety

You've probably used hand sanitizer before this year, but it's likely you've used it a lot more in the last few months. It's a great thing to have in your pocket when you're out and about, allowing you to clean your hands, wherever you are. But if you're fairly new to using hand sanitizer, you might be making a few mistakes and using it wrong. If you're not using it correctly, it won't be as effective as it should be. Before you continue using hand sanitizer, check that you're not making any of the following mistakes.

Image of a hands with a hand sanitizer

Using Hand Sanitizer as a Total Replacement for Hand Washing

Hand sanitizer is a fantastic addition to washing your hands with soap and water. It’s sometimes the best option, especially if you don’t have immediate access to clean water. However, it’s important not to use hand sanitizer as a total replacement for washing your hands. You still need to wash your hands regularly, particularly if they’re visibly dirty or might be contaminated with something. If you sneeze into your hands, hand sanitizer might not be enough to kill all the germs in the mucous, so you should wash them with soap and water as soon as you can. Hand sanitizer can be excellent for killing most germs, but using it doesn’t mean you should never wash your hands again.

Image of a man wearing glasses with his hand on his chin

Using the Wrong Hand Sanitizer

Choosing the best hand sanitizer to get the job done is essential too. It needs to have enough alcohol in it to be effective at killing off germs. The recommended amount is usually at least 60%. The FDA recommends against making your own hand sanitizer, so look for a commercial product that meets your needs. As well as looking for a hand sanitizer with the right alcohol content, make sure you choose a trusted brand that you know is safe. You might also look for other features, such as sanitizer that’s kind to your skin.

Image of a hand sanitizer on a blue background

Not Using Enough Hand Sanitizer

You might want to try and use your hand sanitizer sparingly so you don’t get through it too quickly. But if you’re not using enough of it, you won’t be covering your hands completely. This will mean that germs on parts of your hands haven’t been killed. For hand sanitizer to be effective, you need to use an adequate amount. It’s better to feel like you have a little too much than to not have enough. The more you use hand sanitizer, the more you will get a feel for just how much you need to use.

Image of two hands

Not Covering Your Whole Hands

When you squeeze out some hand sanitizer, do you rub it all over your hands or just move your palms together? If you’re not covering your whole hands, you’re not doing a great job at sanitizing them. We’ve all had a recent reminder of how to properly wash your hands - rubbing all over for at least 20 seconds. You should be doing the same with hand sanitizer, except without the water. Make sure you get every part of your hands and rub sanitizer over them for a minimum of 15 to 20 seconds.

Image of two hands rubbing each other

Not Letting the Hand Sanitizer Dry

Hand sanitizer should be rubbed into your hands so that it dries. A lot of people make the mistake of wiping their hands before the sanitizer has dried, which just wipes off the hand sanitizer. This means that it doesn’t have time to work properly and your hands won’t be as clean as you want them to be.

Image of a hand sanitizer with some cotton pads and a plant

Storing Hand Sanitizer Incorrectly

It’s necessary to store hand sanitizer properly if you want to be safe and ensure it’s effective. It should be stored at the correct temperature if you want to avoid affecting how effective it is. As with many other products, it should be kept in a cool, dark place where possible, such as a cabinet. It shouldn’t be in the fridge or left out in the sun, so be sure to store it somewhere appropriate. If you keep some in your car, try to put it somewhere it will stay cool without getting too cold.

Image of a metal clock

Not Sanitizing at the Right Times

It’s also important to sanitize at the right times. Regularly cleaning your hands is a must, and hand sanitizing can help you anytime you can’t wash them with soap and water. One time when you might be forgetting to use hand sanitizer is before you eat. It’s important to have clean hands before eating, especially if you’re planning to eat with your bare hands. You should also use hand sanitizer when you enter and leave new places, including your workplace, home, and stores, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Even when there isn’t a particular illness to be concerned about, you should use hand sanitizer in places where more vulnerable people might be, such as in hospitals and nursing homes.

Similarly, there are a few occasions when you shouldn’t use hand sanitizer. If your hands are heavily soiled or look dirty, hand sanitizer won’t help much.

Image of a group of lighters with different colors and a flame

Not Being Safe

Using hand sanitizer safely is also essential. Something that some people don’t pay attention to is using hand sanitizer around open flames. Hand sanitizer contains alcohol, so you need to be careful when using lighters, matches or other items with flames, such as candles. After using hand sanitizer, allow time for the alcohol to evaporate. Additionally, avoid open flames for at least 30 minutes after using it.

Image of a label with an expiration information

Forgetting to Check the Expiration Date

If you’re getting through a lot of hand sanitizer, it’s likely you’re finishing off a bottle before the expiration date arrives. However, if you have an older bottle, you could find that it’s out of date or nearly there. The ingredients in your hand sanitizer will degrade over time and it will become less effective, so it’s smart to check.

Avoid making these hand sanitizer mistakes if you want to use it properly and ensure your hands are clean and hygienic as often as possible.