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At the least, it smells good

September 23, 2009 - Per Peterson
I’ve gotten into the habit of squirting hand sanitizer on my hands once or twice a day since we had two jugs of it put in our office recently. But each time I apply it to my hands, I ask myself: Does this stuff really do anything besides make my hands smell good? I mean, really good. This stuff is better than cologne. Cynical by nature, I’m left to wonder if hand sanitizers amount to nothing more than a liquid placebo. Think about it. How do we really know it kills germs and bacteria that reside on our skin? How do we know it builds some kind of force field around our hands and protects others whom we come in contact with, like when we shake someone’s hand? We’re told to wash our hands more frequently than ever, and I understand that — soap and warm water, it just makes sense and it’s the best way to stay healthy. But as far as perfumed hand sanitizers go, I guess I have to question the effectiveness of it. Again, just being a cynic. According to a study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, at least one brand of hand sanitizer out there on store shelves contains significantly less than the 60 percent of minimum alcohol concentration that health officials say is necessary to kill most harmful bacteria and viruses. I’m not saying don’t use these sanitizers, that would be stupid, especially in an office or school setting. Face it, most of us don’t have a sink attached to our desk — either at work or school. Warm water and soap aren’t readily available for most of us and we don’t think about washing our hands until we go to the restroom where the sinks are. I myself not only use sanitizer, I sent mini-bottles of it with my kids on the first day of school to keep in their lockers — call it peace of mind if nothing else.


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