5 Mistakes You’re Likely Making with Your Hand Sanitizer

As coronavirus cases continue to spike across the country once again, it’s important to remain vigilant — and our best defense is still to keep a safe distance, wear a mask, and clean your hands often. But, as much as we’ve learned about sanitizers this year, there are still some mistakes that you might be making. Here’s a refresher on what you should know, and what you should avoid, when using hand sanitizer.

  1. You’re using a DIY hand sanitizer.

  2. You’re not using enough hand sanitizer.

  3. You’re not waiting for the hand sanitizer to dry.

Up there with not using enough hand sanitizer is not waiting long enough for it to dry. If it’s not dry, it might not be effective. “Rub your hands together until they feel dry” — about 20 seconds — advises the CDC.

  1. You’re using hand sanitizer when your hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

In order to work, hand sanitizer needs sufficient contact with your skin. If your hands are covered in dirt or grease, rubbing them with hand sanitizer isn’t going to do anything. What to do instead? Wash your hands with soap and water, dry them, then use hand sanitizer.

  1. You’re using hand sanitizer instead of soap and water.

Soap and water are actually more effective in certain situations than hand sanitizer. For example, they’re better at removing germs like “norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridioides difficile, as well as chemicals,” according to the CDC. They recommend soap and water as your first line of defense and hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.