Flu season is already here! Hand sanitizer is part of a good defense against germs.

Flu season is already here! Hand sanitizer is part of a good defense against germs.

If you’ve ever used a hand sanitizer and afterwards felt like your hands were stickier and dirtier than before, don’t you wonder…Is the sanitizer bad? Is the alcohol drying up in the gel? Have I used too much gel? Am I doing it wrong?

The truth is, most people don’t really know the proper way to use a hand sanitizer. And with flu season already here, knowing the proper way to use hand sanitizer is more important than you think.

Washing your hands with warm soap and water is by far the best way to prevent the spread of flu and virus germs. But really, how many times throughout our busy days do we actually have time to wash our hands? This is when hand sanitizers can be beneficial.

Alcohol-based sanitizers must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective against germs. Squeeze enough of the product into the palm of your hands to wet them fully. Only a few drops are needed to completely cover your hands. Rub your hands together for about 20 seconds or until they are dry. Make sure when rubbing the sanitizer on your hands that you reach all surfaces of your hands, even between your fingers. The sanitizer is only effective if all the liquid is rubbed into your hands!

If soap and water is not available, and your hands are visibly dirty, you may need to wipe them with a wet wipe or towelette first before applying hand sanitizer.

If you like the idea of using a hand sanitizer for extra protection against germs, but don’t prefer to use alcohol based sanitizers, there are a few homemade recipes using essential oils that you can make. Certain essential oils can be just as effective as alcohol because of their antibacterial properties.

Try this recipe for an effective alcohol-free hand sanitizer:

Fill a small, recycled soap or hand sanitizer bottle with 2/3 water. Add one tablespoon of aloe vera gel, and ten total drops of cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, lavender lavender, thyme, rosemary and/or lemon essential oils. Fill the top of the bottle with water, and shake to mix. Spray sanitizer onto hands and rub in for ten seconds.

Because my family and I spend a lot of time in the car driving to work, going sports games and running errands, I like to keep a spray bottle mixture of castile soap and water and some wash cloths. A big fan of Thieves products, I also keep their hand sanitizer in my bag as well.

When shopping around for hand sanitizers, keep in mind the following helpful tips:

  • Alcohol-based sanitizers should contain 60% alcohol. Only a few drops are needed to cover and sanitize hands.
  • Sometimes hand sanitizers can sting if you have cuts or scrapes.
  • If you prefer natural ingredients look for witch hazel and essential oils.
  • Hand sanitizers and gels are only effective in sanitizing hands, not cleaning dirt off hands.
  • Moisturize hands often when using alcohol-based sanitizers and gels.
  • If you smoke, avoid lighting a cigarette after applying hand sanitizer because the alcohol content is flammable.

Finally, proper handwashing is the best way to remove dirt and germs from your hands. Hand sanitizers can remove flu and virus germs but are not 100% effective. Hand sanitizers should only be used as a supplement to hand washing.